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Jane Bradley: Tattoo time, so bang goes my sleep

Every night, at 22:30 hours, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo celebrates the end of its daily armed forces love-in with a fireworks display. Picture: TSPL

Every night, at 22:30 hours, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo celebrates the end of its daily armed forces love-in with a fireworks display. Picture: TSPL

I HAVE stopped going to bed before 11pm. There is no point. Absolutely none at all. For as soon as my head hits the soft white pillow, a series of explosive bangs rattle my window panes and I am jolted out of dreamland back into the reality of Edinburgh in August.

For every night, at 22:30 hours, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo celebrates the end of its daily armed forces love-in with a fireworks display.

And 15 minutes after the first display, just in case anyone living in Edinburgh city centre has managed to drift off again after the first rude awakening, the firework designers set off a second round.

By the time it’s all over and my nerves are back to normal, it’s 11pm and I finally go to sleep, knowing that I am unlikely to get more than seven hours shut-eye before a voice calls out from the other room: “Mummy! Daddy! It’s DAYTIME!”

I’m not, by nature, an early-to-bedder. Pre-child, I rarely hit the sack before midnight. But now, there are days when I just need an early night to allow me to function the next day.

On a Saturday night, however, I am not granted even seven hours of rest. For because those American tourists just can’t get enough of the Tattoo, it happens all over again at midnight to signal the end of the second performance. One more for luck.

And of course, August is not the only time that fireworks are set off in the city’s skies. There’s the Festival fireworks; Hogmanay; St Andrews’ Day; a display to mark the start of the Lantern Parade… the list goes on.

Sleep deprivation is a form of torture, dontcha know?

I can guarantee that under the online version of this article, there will be a lot of dear readers calling me a “killjoy”, a “Festival hater” and telling me that if I don’t like it, I should move to the ‘burbs – or Aberdeen – where I can get as much shut-eye as I want.

But I’m not. I love the Festival.

Granted, I’m not a huge fan of the Tattoo, but I accept that it brings in a large number of tourists to our city. I just don’t see why organisers can’t have a little bit more respect for the people who actually live here, year-round, rather than playing up to 
the visitors so that they can oooh and aahh as the last clarinet-playing band marches from the Castle Esplanade to 
the sounds of organised clapping and explosive bangs which shake the foundations 
of buildings in a five-mile radius.

An online search revealed that a couple of years ago, one lady wrote to Historic Scotland under the Freedom of Information Act demanding to know all of the dates that fireworks displays were planned for Edinburgh Castle that year in an attempt to give everybody with frightened pets the chance to decamp ahead of time.

The nightly Tattoo displays are undoubtedly a scourge 
for certain animals, who cower under the bed or in the garden shed, terrified out of their wits.

Then there are people like me, who have to get up early – whether to watch Mr Tumble and read Julia Donaldson books as I do, or to head off early to work – who just want to get some rest without being disturbed.

And there are young children, who might be frightened by the noises and find it difficult to get back to sleep after being woken by such a loud and sudden bang.

Mine has so far slept through three Augusts-worth of Tattoo fireworks, but I’m on tenterhooks every night.

If all this happened a couple of times a year, it would be just a bit of fun, something to laugh about.

If it was a big problem for an individual household, they could plan to be away during the firework displays. But not when it is every night (bar Sundays) for an entire month. Thankfully, the torture finishes tonight and I can get back to having a full night’s sleep.

I can’t wait.

 

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