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Awake at 6am in the heart of Edinburgh, the haar has settled on and around Arthur’s Seat and all is still quiet. In Hanover Street a single cyclist heads up the hill. In an hour or two there’ll be thousands thronging these streets, and multi-lingual reviews of last night’s Festival performances will be overheard in animated vignettes wherever you find yourself in the city.

August sunshine will burn off the morning mist and a quick scan of local news draws attention to some of the day’s starker realities, lately – and perhaps still – shrouded in fog: the bins, overcharged rent, overcrowded accommodation, a few drunkenly incapacitated on last night’s buses. ‘Magical’ as Edinburgh undoubtedly is, it still has its share of the less-than hoped for. Of course.


But the Edinburgh Festivals celebrate life – all-age, international, widely diverse and inclusive life. There’s an irrepressible, earthy, honest, hopeful, ranging, searching spirit at the heart of a huge body of dynamic art that takes many a long, hard look at the human condition and continues to insist that, ‘in spite of everything,’ being alive, being human – always has the makings of a new masterpiece within it. Improvisation on a massive scale.

Today I’m off to see Austentatious – enthusiastically reviewed for years and hugely popular here at the Edinburgh Fringe. Jane Austen novels entirely improvised upon a single suggestion from the audience: as Louis MacNeice has ‘whispered’ in my ear a thousand times by way of his ‘Mutations’ –

The Stranger in the wings is waiting for his cue,
The fuse is always laid to some annunciation.

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2 thoughts on “Austentatious

  1. I hope that you enjoy today’s performance, Simon. It sounds like such fun! It’s wonderful that you can dive into this sea of creativity every day…a welcome respite from the steady drumbeat of bad news that seems to prevail of late…our former president’s continuing reprehensible behavior, the horrific attack on Salmon Rushdie, the rapid progression of global warming…my heart is heavy this morning, so your post is like a balm….💕💕xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our keeping in regular touch here is a beautiful and highly valued drumbeat / heartbeat, Lori – all the more appreciated because of the issues you’ve mentioned and many more besides. The drumbeat / heartbeat here in Edinburgh just now recognises the world’s troubles too, I think, but – like you and I – insists that there’s a special kind of beat that’s ever worth our aspiring to. The theme of this year’s Tattoo, ‘Voices,’ celebrates ‘the power of connection.’ Balm indeed. And yes, thanks, Austentatious was a hoot! 😊🌱xx


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