AL Kennedy: Bananas, baboons and a festival of fun
Edinburgh Notebook: You'll meet at least one person you thought was dead
Monday 10 August 2009
The Edinburgh Festival is not Edinburgh. Edinburgh is always there – it's the opposite of Glasgow, it has scruffy bits it hides down the back of the sofa and an exotic dancing club named after two body snatchers who specialised in murdering ladies of a relaxed social demeanour. It has a New Town, which is old, and an Old Town which is older and built on top of even older bits. It is Jekyll and Hyde.
The Festival only exists in August – it is Penn and Teller, it is Salt and Sauce, it is Wilson, Keppel and Betty. It is full of people you only see in August.
Afternoons will run like a sci-fi reworking of This Is Your Life. You'll meet at least one person you thought was dead. And as someone who generally only meets people I made up earlier it's a joy to – say – sit in The Stand's green room (which is, in fact, leopard print) and discuss hypnotherapy with a German Madonna impersonator.
Above all, the festival is, for a performer, about Your Venue – Your Venue is your happy place. It is where you have conversations about temporary deafness, caffeine levels and the optimum banana consumption for a bouncy show. This year I am in the lovely Assembly Rooms.
We of the Drawing Room dressing room have already developed a rudimentary civilisation based around ironing, audience analysis, and all the sighing, coughing, grumbling and humming noises that people who are about to talk for an hour tend to produce. I suspect we already sound like a distant colony of judgemental baboons.
Outside it may rain, food doesn't have performer discount, things are far away and may bewilder us – stuffed full as we are with words we have to remember and that amazing, utter tiredness we forgot about when we agreed to do it all again this year. "So that's my left leg that's on fire...? Sorry, which leg ? Right... Your left or my left ...? And what is it ? Oh, yes... on fire. Is that a bad thing ?" But inside it is happy.
No laughing matter
If you want to get people into your Edinburgh Festival show you are traditionally expected to have your big, silly mug photographed and then inserted into newspapers or plastered over perfectly entertaining graffiti, or stains about the town. This means you'll end up out in Edinburgh's jovial streets, looking like you do (someone who has received unsuccessful reconstructive surgery from voles) and yet being photographed as if you were somebody.
This process was aided yesterday by the kind lady who passed, took one look at the snapper and myself and collapsed into fits of helplessly pointing mirth. I was torn between humiliation and a desire to charge her for our entertainment value.
Words with A.L Kennedy is at the Assembly Rooms, George Street (£16.50), daily apart from 17 and 24 August. Her latest book is What Becomes.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens trailer: The most extreme fan reactions on Twitter
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'