There’s a cut-out man tied to a lamp post outside my pal’s house in the New Town. Yes, I hear you all guffaw, but I do have friends who use tea cups, saucers and tea spoons and no, they don’t count them when I leave. Well, I don’t think they do . . .
Bob the Cut-out is a policeman, and very handsome he looks, too. He sports a high-vis jacket and one of those speed measuring gun things that I always think is a hairdryer. He is the very latest thing in anti-speeding technology.
I assume he’s made of something tougher than cardboard, given Scottish weather. One good rainstorm and Bob’s knees will be papier mache. No one wants a soggy PC slumped by a lamp post looking like a Primary 6 project gone horribly wrong.
He does give you quite a turn when you spot him at first, but to be fair, the first time I clocked him clocking me I was strolling along the pavement, and unlikely to be breaking the speed limit. Having said that, there have been times when I have watched women with buggies move quicker than the traffic on Edinburgh’s roads.
Bob first appeared when the road in front of Jenny’s house became something of a traffic rat-run. The area around Haymarket was being dug up, possibly for the third time.
The first time the roads were in chaos around the station was due to the trams, and then the station got upgraded. Oh, hang on, was it something to do with gas mains? Moving bus lanes, perhaps? Putting in a cycle track? Anyone any ideas?
Anyway, the roads had gone all trench warfare and cone forest. Diversions were put in place and commuters were tearing up the roads like boy racers. Perfectly pleasant people, driven insane by the word “diversion’” had turned the morning commute into a scene from Mad Max.
Something had to be done, and so Bob the Policeman was lashed to the lamp post, like the dead captain tied to the wheel of his doomed ship Demeter, as she carried Dracula into Whitby.
Yes, I admit, Bob’s unwavering stare and his attempt at a friendly smile will halt you in your tracks, but only when walking.
Boy racers/deranged diversion victims will be moving at speed, so they may merely register the high-vis jacket and think it’s a stag night prank that’s gone on for a while.
One small step for man, one giant leap for paper dolls...
My aunt went to live in America when I was about ten. She came home bearing wonderful gifts from the land that had put a man on the Moon.
One of my favourites was a cardboard doll called Model Marnie. She came with a book of high fashion, from New York Career Girl to Movie Star Premiere. You pressed out the tailored jackets, smart skirts and evening gowns and – glory of glories – the paper was magnetised and thus the clothes magically stuck to Model Marnie.
We Scots were in the dark ages when it came to dress-up cardboard dollies. We had to use those little paper tags folded around the edges of our models.
This is what made America great. Magnetised paper.
The space race alone was worth the multi-billion price tag just for the ability to stick an A-Line skirt on Model Marnie free from the danger of ruining the haute couture line with little sticky out bits of paper. Yankee know-how, my friends.
If the company that created the wonder of Model Marnie is still trading, we here in Edinburgh have a market for the magnetised cardboard cut-out.
Why are we stopping at policemen, for heavens sake? A quick change of outfit and we’ve got primary teachers. Do we really need shop assistants? Those people digging up roads?
Do we really, really need MPs? Let’s be honest, a magnetised suit and a rosette and you’ve got yourself an elected representative of the people who can’t do any damage. Sorted.
Say hello to my little friend Al
I’ve got form when it comes to cardboard cut-outs. Years ago, when I was cinema manager, I found a life-sized cut-out of Al Pacino in the basement.
It was a foyer display for the film Scarface. Mr Pacino was in full cornered gangster mode with the eye-popping jaw-flexing expression of a crazed drug dealer, or a deranged Edinburgh commuter, and swinging a semi-automatic machine gun around.
Well, I thought, what a wheeze. You’re coming home with me.
Al took pride of place in my tiny living room. I thought he might put the frights on anyone planning to break it. Sneaky, huh?
He did scared the habdabs out of someone, but it was me. It was in the middle of the night when I got up to go to the loo and there was Al. The resulting scream brought the neighbours running from two floors up. Well, at least we got to know each other.