Issue 210
September/October 2019


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Oct 19, 2019

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Bella-Drumming up an audience

WHEN AT the Edinburgh Festival or Fringe I often find myself wondering whether I am having the best day of my life or shamefully wallowing in a repulsive pit of self aggrandising bourgeois pusillanimous pish. Or both.

I found this thought particularly overwhelming when I was at my favourite part of the Festival, the Book Festival where on two occasions I found myself in an audience that was entirely white and wealthy and talking largely inconsequential froth.

Of course the market is king and with their cash tight you can hardly blame the organisers for giving the punters what they want, which is so often glorious, but you do wonder whether Prof Demarco is right when he says that having witnessed every festival since its inception he is depressed at how much it is all now too much about entertainment as opposed to enlightenment.

For me one of the key points in this conflict was witnessing the art works of the BBC's Andrew Marr, which I found comfortingly ghastly. Ghastly in that Mr Marr admits that they are harrowing expressions of his inner fears that the country is tearing itself to pieces over Brexit and Independence, and are more intended to enlighten than entertain.

Inevitably my reaction to this dilemma was to make a damn nuisance of myself wandering like some ostracised intellectual jackiy amongst the wittering masses asking on perhaps too many occasions of the English visitors whether they were planning on standing for the English parliament which is now being conceived by Boris's casual fortifications with so much that we hold dear.

What I found interesting that in this sea of supposed intellectual debate there wasn't a single soul in the dozens that I asked who had even considered such a situation even although it is now statistically quite probable if the polls are to be believed.

Maybe it's all just ennui. In the first week of August I performed my usual daft street theatre at the Belladrum Festival, asking the punters if they wanted to win a dram by making a speech at my soap box – the Highland Park Corner.

In years gone by I could drum up an audience of over a hundred, this year I was lucky if I could get twelve. Maybe I was just losing it. Or maybe the General Public has had enough of politics.

Or maybe we should have an annual festival of enlightenment in Edinburgh in August, with Ricky finally being given the job of Alpha Male before he moves on to the Festival in the Sky, where at last he will be given the respect he deserves.

MAXWELL MACLEOD


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