Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I’ve lived in my little flat on St. John’s Hill for over a month now, and as is to be expected after moving into a new home (especially when said new home is in a foreign county), I’ve had to get used to a lot of new things. The most aggravating of which I can name off the top of my head: electrical sockets that you have to switch on, erratic water temperatures, the warped mirrors that make me look like a Dr. Seuss creation, tiny sinks with no counter space, the horrendous green and orange curtains, and the thin walls that allow me to hear every party, every splatter of vomit, and every rendition of “Blurred Lines” from my upstairs neighbors’ flat.

But there are also a great many perks that come with living here—including the gorgeous view of the Salisbury Crags and the Firth of Forth, the complimentary tea-kettle, the newly renovated kitchen, and my incredibly close proximity to George Square, High Street, Holyrood Park, and every Tesco, coffee shop, and Indian takeaway my heart could desire.

But one aspect of living here at Darroch Court has caught my attention recently—the antics of my new neighbors. They are a numerous and fascinating bunch, and for brevity’s sake, I have divided them into three categories for you: the Construction Workers, the Kitties, and the Crazies.

Let’s begin with the construction workers. A new, five-story student accommodation is currently being built directly outside my window. Although the noise often wakes me up in the mornings and I live in fear that the ever-growing structure will soon obstruct my view of the Forth, the constructions workers are a fascinating bunch to spy on—I mean, casually observe. When I work at my desk I have a clear view of all of their comings and goings. Although all are dressed in bright yellow vests and wear hardhats, upon closer inspection, you will notice that they vary greatly in age—for whatever reason, they tend to be very old or very young . Generally the men are serious and focused on their work, but once I happened to notice an older man deep in discussion with a younger one. When suddenly he gave him one of those half man-hugs and an encouraging squeeze on the shoulder, my cold little heart melted.

My favorite neighbors are most definitely the assortment of cats on my street, stray and pets alike. Geraldine, a big black cat I regularly see in a neighbor’s window, meows when I pass and once put her paw to the glass when I approached. Louis, on the other hand (after Robert Louis Stevenson, and yes, I have named them all), is likely a stray, as I find him lounging on a different stoop every time I see him. I plan to lure him back to my flat with an open can of tuna and then he will be MINE! There’s also a little black and white kitty, Charlotte, who hangs out with her elderly owner as she gardens outside her house on Drummond Street. Tragically, accommodation rules prevent me from adopting a flat cat, but at least I can creepily stare at my neighbor’s cats through their windows. It’s not much of a consolation.

And finally, my least welcome, but certainly most interesting neighbors are a group determined, not by their occupation or species, but by their behavior—the Crazies. They usually come out at night (although not always), and tend to frequent the ill-lit road behind Darroch Court. The tamer Crazies will only sing drunkenly or perhaps vomit on the sidewalk, and then hurriedly distance themselves from the scene of the crime. One memorable night, however, my studies were interrupted by a shouting match between two old men who were standing in the road, about ten feet apart. I opened my window to hear them better, curious about the cause of the dispute, but all I could hear was the one man shouting, over and over, “AH NOE YER UNCLE! AH NOE YER UNCLE’S FAMILY!!!” Devoid of context, this seemed an innocent enough assertion to me, but the other man responded with choice words that I should probably not repeat here, and ran away up the road.

But my most dramatic encounter with a Crazie occurred, improbably, on a Sunday morning. Sunday mornings can be eerily quiet in the city—or at least in sectors heavily populated by students—because everyone is either sleeping in or sleeping off a hangover. But this particular morning I was interrupted, once again, by shouting outside of my window. I looked down to see an unassuming man in a yellow shirt standing in the street. In the middle of the street. And he was holding his shoes in his hands. Curious, I opened my window, and although he was making a great deal of noise, I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. Whenever a car came down the road, he would pump both fists in the air and run out in front of it. Extraordinarily, not a single person used their car horn or stopped to yell at him—they just waited patiently for a moment, and then drove around the shouting man. If this had happened in Philly, that man would have been run down by the first car he inconvenienced! At one point the man excitedly threw his shoes into the air, and then, fearing for his mental health and safety, I decided to look up the number of campus security. But by the time I got back to the window he had already gone, and a pair of sneakers in the road was the only sign that he had been there at all.

Since I’ve skimped on pictures this week, I’ve decided to reward you for slogging through all of that boring text with a few bonus shots!

Loving graffiti in honor of J.K. Rowling in the Elephant House Café bathrooms, where she wrote a portion of the first Harry Potter book:2013-09-21 22.22.022013-09-21 22.21.30

My trek up Calton Hill on an unusually warm day a few weeks ago:2013-09-27 20.57.522013-09-27 20.58.06

Hopefully, someday in the future, I’ll find time in between studying and spying on my neighbors to have a proper adventure and take lots of pictures. But it is not this day.

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One Comment

  1. Doreen Carey says:

    Well you sure won’t get bored what with the variety of animal life you encounter. I am so envious!!

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