A Tale of Two Cities

I’ve been back now for a fortnight and perhaps too easily slipped into a routine of mundane activities – a bit of work, a lot of gardening and a fair amount of pouffling that aimless activity that takes forever, achieves nothing but always seems more important than the task in hand. And now I can slip into it at whim for no one is going to question what I’m up to or why it’s taken so long to do so little. Apart from the cats who have an uncanny knack of sitting staring in total disbelief at the wantonness of humans only to then decide that they weren’t really that interested in the first place. The mists of angst and loss and starting to lift, unlike the Edinburgh haar which surrounds Colinton this morning, and forward plans are becoming clearer. And the festival has started. That’s not to be confused with any other festival or suite of festivals (damn, where is she when I need a good collective noun – flourish will do). So the flourish of festivals has indeed begun and we are so spoilt for choice it seems far easier just to ignore the whole thing. But I’m curious so yesterday I decided to cycle to the epicentre at the High Street to see for myself what was happening.

Mayhem it seemed in all colours, forms and functions with invitations to attend that oh so interesting performance being handed out left, right and centre. No sooner had they fallen into greedy hands than they continued their journey to the ground only to be tweaked away by an appropriately disguised rubbish collector. Jane would have hated the seething mass of humanity as it surged down the Royal Mile worried it might miss something.

But I wasn’t there to be tempted and I was soon back on the bike and a return journey along the canal path back in the leafy, peaceful burbs of the real Edinburgh.

When I left all those years ago it was in part because the city centre was completely taken over by visitors and festivals from May to September. In those days the Fringe extended well into Morningside and you just couldn’t move for posters, people and performances. Now it’s all packaged up and sponsored and more or less confined to the city centre. So we have two cities: Edinburgh for its citizens who can continue daily life oblivious to the international exuberance (better collective noun? – an exuberance of festivals) that is the Edinburgh Festival in all its incarnations.

But there are free performances and at lunchtime I was able to enjoy Oksana Mavrodii and Silviya Mihaylova from Live Music Now, P1030770.JPG and their Russian music for voice and piano at the National Museum of Scotland’s Free Fringe Music. They were very good but the beautifully restored, lofty ironwork of the building didn’t make for the best acoustics nor did the cup clearing in the cafe – the family musicians and sound engineers would have been most unhappy. I did speak to the technician but apparently although they used the mic to introduce each piece, and the keyboard was amped, the soprano felt that her voice would carry! Back to the burbs …

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