John Hegley: My Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture

Dear Mum and Dad,

I am up again. I mean I am Edinburgh-up. Up here at the festivities. It's been 27 years in a row now. And every year I have stage-strutted, except in 1999, but I was still up. Up among the upness. Having the crags in view in the city reminds you of the brevity and fragility of human existence and how it is to be made the most of. And so, here you try to make the most of it: shows to do, shows to attend, faces to greet, old and new. Festival-goers feel more open than their usual selves, sharing knowledge about what to see, where to go and why.

There is the Museum of Modern Art, where I traipse each year to reflect upon the delightful permanent collection. And every time, the exhibits make me vow that in the next festival, I will do a performance with a magnificent set. I have not done so, yet, although one year, Dad, I did have one of your paintings as a backdrop and as I carried it out of the theatre on the last day, I felt so proud of your bright atmospheric depiction of old Nice, even though your perspective is a bit wrong.

You would love the Botanic Gardens, Mum. They're beautiful and also nice and flat. I think the hills would be off-putting for you, but the buses run on schedule and people form very orderly queues.

Today I woke up early and have ironed my socks, ready for my performance. I am sharing the flat with Lizzie Shirley from the old Soapbox Children's Theatre group. She sings a stirring song about child labour in which she says there is no magic in a carpet you are forced to create.

With everyone up so late, keeping up the festival vigour's a bit of a problem so I try to stick to eight hours sleep and three and a half pints of lager. But sometimes the figures get confused.

Wishing you were here. Imagining you are.


'The Adventures of Monsieur Robinet', Pleasance Courtyard, to 30 August (0131-556 6550)