So, it's that time of year again, just a few days until the commencement of the maelstrom of madness that is the Edinburgh Festival. Although I am aware there will be a multitude of festivals occurring simultaneously over the three and a bit weeks in August, I think we can agree that the universal name recognising these events voiced by locals and visitors alike is the Edinburgh Festival. As in, from a local perspective, 'ah cannae get to ma work oan time cause ey the bloody bus disruption, I'll Edinburgh Festival them', to the highbrow visitor, 'I mean, where could you find such a range of experimental theatre, contemporary art and razor edge comedic acuity, other than at the Edinburgh Festival?', and all ranges of opinion in between.
August in Edinburgh can be a strange experience and this year will see the return of a full range of events as we celebrate a return to normal, following last year's brave attempt at a kind of festival and the previous year's no shows as a result of Covid.
It's a time of year when Edinburgh's ubiquitous stag weekenders face being upstaged as they wander around in what they had planned to be the most outlandish get up, only for them to pale into blandness when compared to legions of festival participants in their eccentric and wonderfully creative get-up. Festival period is a time when happy amateurs jostle for position with some of the biggest names in theatre and especially comedy, as the promoters bombard anyone prepared, or in most cases unprepared, to take the leaflet for the show they are promoting.
Best to keep your head down in the city centre, around the old town and the university campus. You might be able to avoid being mugged, pleaded with, promised the earth or simply bullied into attending a show by some lesser known comedic talent, yet to make the breakthrough. You could be lucky and spot the next big thing before they break, or more likely you will be faced with a tired and hackneyed set by some egotist who had been advised by their friends they were not funny in any shape or form and should desist now. However, they instead heard it as, yes, you should take your patter to Edinburgh – you will be a sensation.
As I write, on the cusp of the festivities commencing, I would like to turn attention to the run up to the festival. A time when the normal easy-going people of the capital suddenly begin to act in an erratic fashion. Much like the turbulent behaviour of the animal kingdom during mating season, Reekie's sons and daughters go a bit daft.
Last week, I was walking down the narrowest of streets in the old town, with the large influx of tourists walking four-abreast across the narrow pavement. A smartly dressed chap riding a top of the range bike decided the road was no longer the place for him. Instead, he would navigate his way through the crowds on the pavement, tutting loudly and complaining about people getting in his way. It got worse, the crowds actually parted to let him through. At another time of the year, I would have feared for this man's life.
Further up the same road, I was met with what I would swear was a coordinated effort. As I passed every shop in the street, two random people walked out the shop front directly into my path, causing me to stumble each time. In the end, I was not far short of being convinced that I had been caught up in a pre-festival show – the coordination of the participants was so slick.
The best one though was when I was on the bus last Saturday afternoon in the company of my dog Daisy and a woman got on with her pooch. As she walked past where we were seated, she stopped abruptly and accused Daisy of giving her dog a dirty look. All that and it hasn't even started yet.
Don't, however, be confused and think that I am anti-festival. It definitely has its merits such as the guarantee that the recent drought will come to a much needed end as the near monsoon season descends on us and the rain batters down over most of, if not the entire run, of the festival.
Oh yes, and I have tickets to go see John Cooper Clarke at his only show of this year. I love it.
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