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GNOME SWEET GNOME.

FORMER Cabinet Minister Robin Cook has objected to students being allowed to move into a flat in the upmarket tenement where he lives in Edinburgh. But what if the gnomish ex-Foreign Secretary went for a bonding session with a few of his would-be new neighbours and found he wasn't all that different from them, after all? The results could be like this.

DEAR DIARY

I WOKE up yesterday morning to hear myself described as ``pompous''. Moi?

Still, made a change from being slagged off as a garden gnome...

But really, all I did was object to the flat above mine becoming a ``house of multiple occupation''.

I thought my elegant letter to Edinburgh City Council put my objections very succinctly.

``Although I am no longer in government, I remain very prominent in public life and it is important for me that my home base is a place of privacy where I am secure from any confrontation.''

A ``house of multiple occupation'' indeed. Sounds more like ``house of ill-repute''.

This is such a douce area of Auld Reekie, so tranquil.

That JK Rowling had the good taste to choose to live here ... although I'm a trifle confused over her comment about me being the inspiration for Dobby the house elf.

Still, I suppose Gaynor and I will have to make the best of it.

Just as I was in the middle of practising being very prominent in public life, there was someone at the door.

Some of my new neighbours from upstairs with an invite to their house-warming party. Went along to lay down a few ground rules about the way we live in Merchiston.

Like no loud music, no skateboarding, no bikes chained to the banisters, no headboards banging off the walls at all hours, no cooking foreign food that leaves the stair stinking and none of your drug-and-drink fuelled bonkfests.

And certainly no washing or team colours hanging out of the windows.

At first glance, they didn't seem like descendants of Attila the Hun.

They suggested we went to the pub first. Lots of talk of exams and living in poverty on a grant -bit of a touchy subject, that. Seems students don't think the sun shines out of Tony's ...

Ah, but it did take me back to my old student days. A pint of snakebite, that's a half pint of lager and a half pint of cider, to the youngsters. Now that was a drink that had a kick.

Back to the flat for a bite of supper and a bit of a party. Got a strange craving for a kebab.

Discovered these young people are soulmates. Against the Iraq War!

The music was a bit strange at first. Still, a few more snakebites and Eminem was my main man.

And the chainsaw looked like fun. Love to fire one of those babies up at a Cabinet meeting.

Told the kids about a crazy jape from my own student days. Pinching a traffic cone and putting it on our heads.

Bet they'd never heard of that before.

CAPTION(S):

COOK'S TOUR: I head back to my new friends' place for a nightcap after a snifter at the pub and a draw on an ``exotic cigarette''; PUKE'S TOUR: One too many with the students, I'm afraid. Then it's off to beddy-byes , snuggling up with Gaynor
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 11, 2003
Words:556
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