Dateline: Edinburgh, July 1987

Jejune July, & we burghers of Eden wait with bated breath for the annual onslaught of tourists touting their various wares to the unwary, under the pretext of an International Arts Festival. Not till September can we breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Festival Fever like Hay Fever comes round every summer & can be just as uncomfortable. If, like me, you're not (& have no wish to be) a fervent, uncritical consumer of dispensable culture, the only cure is to ignore it. That could be difficult, because there's obviously something in the air & it seems to be contagious. Another remedy might be to go away on holiday. Does anyone know of a local fallout shelter to let for the duration?

Of course, those who have not yet learnt from bitter experience may wish to enter into the spirit of the occasion (& what would the Festival be without its whisky-sponsored Fireworks?) While in Rome, do as the American tourists do! If you can't beat them, join the queue for tickets. Go with the flow & catch that show...

Well, you're welcome to try to take in every performance & exhibition in the programme, but unless you're a spendthrift millionaire with the stamina of a marathon runner on amphetamine, it's most unlikely you'll succeed. Besides, even given that one had the time, the money & the energy, who would have the slightest inclination? Bingeing on so rich a feast of culture could cause a bad case of dyspepsia.

Now, if the whole lot were available on video, we could just relax & watch it in weekly instalments for the rest of the year!

Good training in the run-up to the Festival is provided by the Commonwealth Games. For the athletically-inclined, who prefer to take their exercise vicariously, it is, I suppose, a must, not to be missed at any cost, & cost it will.

Sport as an art form/ ritualised combat/ opium of the masses, it is no doubt all this & more. To sports' enthusiasts, the entertainment value will be unquestionable. It also means good business for local traders & hoteliers. Good for them.

That the nations of a so-called Commonwealth should choose to compete rather than co-operate, strikes me as curious & somewhat of a contradiction. The games people play!

At least it's something to look forward to. Funny how I keep getting this recurring nightmare that I'm a soldier in the Somme, stuck in some bloody muddy trench, about to go over the top. Does anyone know of a cheap psychoanalyst I can consult?

Anyway, meanwhile, summer's with us once again, so get out your umbrellas. Better make them anti-nuclear umbrellas  - the rain may be radio-active (post-Chernobyl, Ed.) . As we wee Scots Scouts used to say, Be Prepared!

This is your raving reporter signing off or, should I say, signing on!



comic tour of edinburgh

milne's bar, edinburgh (poets' pub)



a - z