A few days ago a busker started playing at 2.00 pm outside our flat in the Grassmarket.  The wailing of his vocal cords, which emitted more of a glissando of whines than any recognisable notes and his slow-strummed guitar, both amplified to an excruciating volume, echoed through our rooms so neither of us could think, work or listen to any entertainment of our own, let alone enjoy peace and quiet.

I went down to ask him to stop. He refused, saying the rules of the Council allowed to play as loud and as long as he liked. I said I’d have to call the police. He just shrugged, muttering something about me being free to do whatever I wanted (except, obviously, listen to him).  I rang 101 and was told the police would attend.

A grueling hour later, no police had come. I rang 101, to be told they were on their way. Another ghastly hour, I rang again, only to be told that the police who were attending had been called away, but others were coming.  Thirty minutes later, I went down to answer an enquiry at the main door, and happened to see two police standing nearby looking at the busker.  I asked them if they’d come to stop him.  They said they had a complaint, but had no powers to stop him, and anyway he wasn’t making too much noise, was he?  I explained that sound rose, and in the flat above his din echoed through every room.

They then said they’d have to take my details since a woman had complained about this busker, not me.  They asked me how long I’d lived here. I said 25 years. They replied that I must be used to this then.  But I explained that amplification had made this nuisance unbearable now. They then asked me if I was born in Scotland.  Isn’t this racist?   Eventually they went over and asked him to stop, and then came back, smiling, to tell me he’d agreed to go. They thought they’d done a good job.  They didn’t see the smirk on the busker’s face as he looked at me, scooping up his very considerable takings after playing unstopped for two and a half hours!  

Everyone has a right to peace and quiet in their home and place of work.  Edinburgh is currently failing to provide this for its inner city residents and workers.  

Julian Spalding