Edinburgh Festival `98: Festival Diary

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The Independent Culture
IF I'D RULED Edinburgh years ago things would be very different now. For a start, Edinburgh wouldn't be where it is. I'd have had it built on terrain more suitable for a large metropolitan centre. I don't know whose idea it was to build the city on hills, but if I'd been in charge he would have been fired. It's no wonder the Scots are so well known for their architects and engineers - they build their cities in the most inaccessible places on earth.

I'm not boasting, but when they built Dublin they obviously thought, "Here's a nice flat bit by the river; let's build a city here." I think that I could have shown similar vision had I been around at Edinburgh's conception. "Gentlemen," I would have said. "Put down your tools. Stop building here. The steps budget is spiralling out of control; this is madness. I have heard tell of a city to the west called Glasgow. They may think it's all very well to walk in one side of a building, go up three flights of stairs and then walk out the other side, but we are Edinburgh folk and will not behave in such a vulgar manner. Come, follow me to a region I call Cumbernauld.

We shall recommence construction there."

Unfortunately, it's too late now. But if I ruled Edinburgh today the first thing I would do is put in some stair lifts for the old people and the drunks. I would also pass an edict that all city maps must include contour lines. That way people can judge just how gruelling the walk from the Assembly Rooms to The Pleasance can be.

I would pass many laws that would directly affect the Fringe. First of all, for the duration of the Fringe I would make fly-posting illegal. What do you mean, it already is? Well in that case, legalising it would take away some of its appeal.

Any person found juggling in public would have their hands removed, except for the really good ones who would have the hands of the bad jugglers grafted on to their elbows, giving them the opportunity to perfect hitherto impossible tricks. Furthermore, any street performer caught saying "Do you want to see me do it?" too often will be put to death. It's the only way they'll learn.

The only thing I wouldn't change is the licensing hours. They're fine the way they are.