Edinburgh: the horror

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Last week I bumped into someone very high up in broadcasting who is famous for discovering new talent. "Oh God," he said, "I hate August. I suppose I shall have to go. Every year I try to get out of it but they make me in the end."

I gave up going years ago, as soon as I left the BBC. I had never much enjoyed Edinburgh, but there was always an overriding imperative for traipsing up to the festival. This was one of the few occasions when most BBC bosses were in the UK. Producers would flock to Scotland en masse to try to meet up with their head of department who notionally worked at TV Centre but seemed to spend the rest of the year in South America. Those who do still make the annual pilgrimage fall into four camps:

1 People like my friend who think they mustn't be seen to bestow their patronage on old favourites. They are spotted in a few outrageous venues, feeling conspicuous and old.

2 People who believe my friend is going to discover them if only they can coincide at the right urinal.

3 Journalists on expenses.

4 The audience.

The journalists will have a good time because they always do. It is the other three groups I feel sorry for because I have realised there are five good reasons not to go:

1 God knows we are all in competition with each other but Edinburgh is just a perverse celebration of the fact. Everyone insignificant in the Arts and Media is trying desperately to get noticed and the few who can offer work are trying desperately to avoid being noticed (except by their employers).

2 Even if you go as a spectator, the chances are that you make the wrong choice when it comes to buying your ticket. Within five minutes of sitting down at one venue I was invariably seized by the panicky belief that I was missing five better shows elsewhere.

3 Even if you're not there to be noticed the place is full of desperate, roller-skating young men in tail coats who, in their desire to be noticed, will probably knock you over.

4 The best accommodation went months ago.

5 I have already met Alan Yentob.

My advice is to go home. None of your rivals will be getting anything useful done for the next three weeks.

Adrian Mourby

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