As summer grinds into gear, the recalcitrant sun stops cock-teasing and finally treats us to a swatch of its sizzling under-garments. On the Grassmarket, tables and chairs are laid out with military precision. In the lee of the castle, a crane lowers the last pieces of the auditorium into place, in readiness for a more elaborate show of military precision. Meanwhile, over in the Meadows, 1,000 revelers blaze another fattie and pass it to the left. Make no mistake about it – the Festival is on its way.
Like the second coming of Jesus Christ, the dawn of Edinburgh Festival is an eagerly-anticipated event that promises theatre, dance, music and comedy served up with the elixir that forms a panacea for all mankind’s ills – whisky.
Be warned though: it’s not all rosy-cheeked fun. Hubris and hype also come with the territory, like a cheap HDMI cable bundled with a Tesco TV. Peel away the glitz, glamour and marketing spin and you’ll discover a host of undesirable elements lurking in the petticoat tails of Scotland’s Cultural Festival™. If you quaff enough Veuve Clicquot with Loch Fyne Oysters, sooner or later you’re gonna have a lot of shit to clear up.
Even the most prestigious festivals have their share of faecal matter to deal with, and the Fringe is no exception. Among the excrement that smears Edinburgh’s cobbled streets you’ll find strait-jacket-shedding performers bellowing to conceal their lack of talent; opiated junkies stotting through crowds and returning home several wallets to the good; restaurateurs along the Royal Mile hiking prices and cutting portion sizes as part of their August special; Asian gift shop proprietors cranking bagpipe muzak to lure Japanese tourists into purchasing authentic Scottish souvenirs that were made in China.
The Festival is undoubtedly a beautiful thing for snap-happy foreign nationals and guesthouse-owners. For most Burgh residents however, the Fringe only manifests itself when they run out of fuel while trying to circumnavigate swarms of jaywalking Spaniards.
Like an abandoned baby left on their doorstep, many locals prefer to overlook the Festival altogether, reasoning ‘I’ll leave that one for the tourists to find’. Peer beneath the swaddling however and you’d be surprised to discover that there’s a little bundle of joy with your name on, crying out for your attention. That’ll teach you for having that knee-trembler with Shona round the back of Cav.
So now that I’ve piqued your interest in the festival, this might be a pertinent time to dig a little deeper and find out exactly what delights are in store: What sort of acts can we expect to see at this year’s festival? And will it be bigger and better than last year’s effort?
Who cares? Seriously, who gives a rat’s scabby backside?
Amidst all the brouhaha, let’s not lose sight of the reason why Edinburgh Festival exists. It’s here for the same reason as any other festival, be it Glastonbury, RockNess or Taste of Edinburgh – to facilitate industrial-scale consumption of alcohol, weed and cocaine in order to induce casual sex with strangers. Nothing more, nothing less.
Like most of life’s grand occasions – weddings; funerals; masonic meetings – the Fringe has got bugger all to do with pomp and ceremony. It’s all about gunning single malt and Deuchars till 4am before piecing f**k out of a passing Italian who for some reason kept shouting ‘Aiuto!’ as you invoked the name of our Holy Saviour.
It is this bringing together of cultures, customs and bodily fluids that defines Edinburgh Fringe 2012. This year, instead of over-analysing the quality of the shows, why not focus on quantity? How much of Edinburgh’s foreign contingent can you invade during the month of August? How many continents can you tick off? Can you distill everything that’s great about this city into five minutes of pantie-moistening passion? Auld Reekie expects. The 200,000 foreigners who’ll flock here next month might not be expecting it, but they’ll learn to love our perennial drunkenness and amorous behaviour. And if they don’t, well, they’ll be on the first flight home.
Throughout August 2012, Ed Uncovered will be reviewing an array of Fringe shows, from kids’ to comedy. Check back in the coming days for the first slew of EU reviews, delivered in my usual reverent fashion. And while I’m going all-out to ‘engage my target audience’ (spew), why not follow on Twitter for the latest Ed Uncovered updates, plus a bunch of bad jokes?
Jesus Christ might be taking his sweet time getting here, but the Fringe is well on its way. I for one intend to be ready. Hair gelled, balls shaved and pen and pad at the ready.
The festival is coming – look busy.