My Edinburgh: Virginia Ironside, Writer


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The Independent Culture

I can't have been more than 10 when I first visited Edinburgh with my father, who'd designed the sets for a festival production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. We stayed in the Old Waverley Hotel (which is still there) on Princes Street. The whole place was granite-coloured hell. Even the counters at Jenners (which is also still there) were manned by sour-faced old Edinburgh spinsters who looked shocked if you wished to be so extravagant as to purchase anything; the town rolled up its streets at nine at night.

Now it's unrecognisable from the old days. It's edgy, cool, and huge fun. I was here two years ago with my show and have returned this year to do it again. It's on in the mornings (timed so that the old people will be up and the young still asleep) and manned by sore-headed young technicians who have been up sometimes until 6am the night before. I love Edinburgh. I love its cobbled streets, the geometrically designed New Town, with its Georgian buildings. This time round I shop at Armstrongs, a chain of three excellent vintage shops including the aptly named Rusty Zip. And there's the charming Treasure Trove on Castle Street, a Self Aid charity shop that sells knitted sandwiches and other eccentric delights, all hand-made by good people on their uppers.

Virginia Ironside's 'Growing Old Disgracefully' is at the Gilded Balloon Teviot (0131 226 0000) 12.15pm daily, except Tuesdays

Virginia Ironside's Must-See Event

I've got tickets to listen to my latest hero, Thomas Heatherwick, at the Edinburgh book festival on 25 August – he designed the bendy buses, the amazing Olympic flame device with the cauldrons, and the curling bridge at Paddington Basin. And the Cambridge Footlights at Pleasance Dome were brilliant. Clever, original, and fresh.