Scotland

Complaints choir give Edinburgh trams chorus of disapproval

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Media captionTrams, dog dirt and the festival have been irking the Edinburgh Complaints Choir

Instead of singing the praises of Scotland's capital, the Edinburgh Complaints Choir is voicing a chorus of disapproval for all the daily irritations the city offers.

The choir has been put together as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival.

About 30 Edinburgh residents, chosen after an open call to the people of the city, have had their complaints gathered and set to music by two local composers.

They will perform their complaints at various venues around the city during the festival.

Top of the list of the complaints, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the tram project which has blighted the city for the past five years.

The £776m project is due to begin running in July 2014, years behind schedule, hundreds of millions over budget and far less extensive than originally envisaged.

Meanwhile, the public of Edinburgh has suffered years of road works and traffic congestion.

Image caption Tram works blighted Edinburgh's city centre for years

"Huge disruption everywhere/Buses already take us there," is one line of the lyrics to the trams complaint sung by the choir.

"Incompetence beyond belief/Digging up the road to Leith.

"The trams aren't even going there/The council clearly doesn't care," the song continues.

Daniel Padden, co-director of the choir, says the project is meant to be "fun".

"It is not people sitting around moaning and being miserable about stuff. There is a joy to it as well," he says.

The complaints choir idea dates back to 2005 and two Finnish musicians. Birmingham was one of the first places to embrace the concept and it has been repeated in numerous cities around the world, such as Helsinki, St Petersburg, Chicago and Tokyo.

Padden says there are some complaints which are universal, such as dog mess, traffic congestion and recycling arrangements.

Image caption Daniel Padden says it was difficult to narrow down all the complaints

He says it was difficult to "narrow down" the complaints but one of the songs has a section which is a long list of annoyances which did not make it in to the other pieces.

As well as the trams there was one other common complaint which was specific to Edinburgh - the festival itself.

Padden appreciates the irony of complaining about a festival in which they are taking part but the choir members think it is useful to be able to speak out about their city being hijacked by thousands of tourists and performers every August.

Lorna Hoy says: "Sometimes at festival time I want to wear a badge which says 'I'm not a visitor, I live here', because people from the festival just get in your way when you are trying to get to work."

Another choir member Heidi Docherty says the complaints choir gave her a way to take part in a festival which is normally forced upon the people of Edinburgh.

She says: "It was a good way to get involved rather than just moan when it plonks itself on your doorstep."

"Singing about it is very reassuring. It gets it off your chest and it's a good laugh.

"It's a great way to vent your spleen and I think it will cheer the people of Edinburgh up on their way to work."

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