This time next month, all being well, I shall be in Edinburgh experiencing the Festival. It’s (almost) shaming to admit that while I’ve visited the city many times, this will be my first visit to the Festival. Well, my first visit apart from a family trip to the Tattoo in the 1970s.
In an uncharacteristic moment of precision, I tried to work out which year that must have been. I was quite young, it wasn’t long after we’d moved to Scotland, and there were formation motorcycle riders performing amongst all the military bands and dog displays. And then I remembered that knowing what the seating plan for the Tattoo on the Castle Esplanade looked like help me decipher a significant clue in a TV adventure programme I was glued to, well before the protagonists worked it out. So if I could find out when the programme was broadcast, I’d know when I’d been.
If only I could remember the name of the show. This launched me into one of those google searches that against all the odds brought me to the right answer. It went along the lines of ‘it had that actress in it who was in that other thing in the 1980s about meeting the man who jilted her at the altar years before. Wasn’t he in Jesus Christ Superstar in the West End? Her name was Jan something…..?’
It worked. The Long Chase (starring Jan Francis,who subsequently appeared in Just Good Friends with Paul Nicholas in the 1980s) was first broadcast in 1972. So I saw the Tattoo sometime before then. (I even found an online discussion thread petitioning for the issue of The Long Chase on DVD. Interestingly, no-one, me included, seems to recall whether it was in colour or black and white…..)
Anyway, all of this is just preamble to illustrate how long overdue it is for me to visit the Edinburgh Festival. and even though it’s still a month away, I am already aware of the risk of over gorging on it. There is so much, largely because it is not one thing, but several combined, and there is a temptation to want to try a little bit of each. One mercy is that as I am not a fan of comedy I am able to ignore a significant proportion of the Fringe(!).
This week the thing that has been exciting me at the prospect of all the things I am going to see, is that I have noticed pre publicity for works from people I have met during one of my sojourns at Cove Park. One of the founding ideas of Cove Park is to have a mixture of artistic disciplines there, to allow people from different backgrounds and with different objectives to take time out, watch the weather and the light change on the surface of the loch and the hills beyond, to meet and to exchange ideas and inspirations.
I’ve been very fortunate in the people I have met there. Many of them were novelists and poets, but I’ve also met visual artists and actors there. I don’t know them well, but have shared a late night drink in front of the roaring fire in the bar at the Knockderry House Hotel, tartan carpet and all, and heard about their projects when they were in the very early stages of thinking and development. I am therefore full of anticipation at the prospect of seeing them come to fruition as part of the Festival.
Adura Onashile is performing her one woman show HeLa inspired by the story of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were used, without her permission as raw material for some of the most significant medical research in the last century. I met Adura as she was doing the first research for the project, so in a very tiny way I feel like I was there at the beginning, so have to see it come to fruition.
Brody Condon was on a preliminary visit for a joint project with Christine Borland and was using Cove Park as an accommodation base when I met him. I’m not sure at that time that they had a very well formulated idea of what the nature of their project would be, other than they would be doing it jointly; so I’m really interested to see what they developed together, especially as it sounds as if it will be installed in an unusual venue.
Who knew I was so well connected?