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14 August 2007


The true origins of the Edinburgh Festival based on a fact

By Simon Munnery

Here I be, Edinburgh festival, goldfish bowl, cauldron of the vanities, ensconced.

It’s tough at the top, they say, the ones at the top presumably, to remind us to not even try it. It’s not particularly easy at the bottom. It’s tough baby, tough – was that not what you wanted? You came here to suffer; don’t you remember? Perhaps you’ve changed your mind; very well then change your mind: don’t suffer.

Life seldom imitates your glorious dreams. You struggle and get nowhere. Solution: Stop struggling; go somewhere.

Give up – and carry on. Is it a marathon – or a sprint? It’s a dance not a race. You can race if you want; that’s your problem. Winners are crowned every five minutes. Within ten the crowns gathering dust in a cupboard, rotting on a tip, or teetering on the next fool’s bonce.

By all means celebrate your victories, your defeats, your 1-1 away draws. By all means? Except with a machine gun.

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Smoke gets in my eyes, I blink, another moment passes: Do I really need meditation classes? I have fags. Rather; they have me – pinned by the throat and the lung. So be it. Bring it on. I will die and you will die. Isn’t that awful? Remember remember remember we are immortal.

The festival’s become too commercial runs the oft levelled criticism, though like all such oft levelled criticisms its origins are unclear. Who first said it? It doesn’t matter; it has entered the ether; like a question hanging, that seems to need an answer.

The festival’s become too commercial. Oh yes? Unlike the rest of the world?

My friend talks of jacking it in. If only it were that easy. It’s an illness. Sure, you can give up for a bit, but whatever drew you to it in the first place will draw you there again further down the track. They nearly all come back; weaker, rustier, dead.

The options are: Try then cry, or cry then try. The first seems preferable; at least you give it your best shot, eyes untearsmeared. It’s a new word. It worked for Shakespeare. Joyce had a go.

Hay critic! Come and have a go if think you’re hard enough.

let them call you dated
let them call you mediocre
let them call you populist or unpopular
let them call you what they will
you can’t stop them: persevere

In the desert sits the critic
with her shotgun
waiting for a flower to bloom
as the first shoots shoot she shoots
and reconfirms the desert

a glance in eternity’s mirror shows
dated is a day away from classic
and mediocre a current term for great
and what later shall be loved
it’s only now they hate

T.S.Eliot said it’s not important for a poet to have a mass following in his lifetime, only a small but appreciative audience.

I’m halfway there. If only they’d appreciate me.

A Brief History of the Edinburgh Festival based on A Fact.

It began after the second world war when returning soldiers driven mad by prolonged exposure to ack-ack, doodlebugs, and vera lynn spontaneously started singing opera. The enterprising city council corralled the troopers into pens, built venues around them and started selling tickets. The festival was born and it has continued in the same vain every since. For one month a year all forms of lunacy are if not encouraged then at least permitted as long as they bring in de valuable tourist dollar. Although it has been illegal for centuries even to smile in public in Edinburgh, during August even singing is tolerated as long as it’s for cash. The festival began to divide, like the cells of an organism – the film festival, art festival, book festival, science festival, jazz festival and dwarfing them all the festival of the unclassifiable known as the fringe. What are the festival’s aims? Is it trying to take over the world?
Kelp is a form of seaweed.