When I left the Dundonald Street apartment lent us for the Edinburgh Festival I got great joy out of washing up with my children, cleaning the kitchen surfaces, puffing up the sofa cushions, tidying the bedroom, and generally making it look as if we had not been there for two days. And then depositing the two sets of keys on a little wooden plate by the door.
I had in the course of making scrambled eggs for both breakfasts splashed egg on to the splash board behind the cooker. That took a bit of removing. And then I had used the wrong implement on the first day, a saucepan rather than a non-stick frying pan, and that took 10 minutes at least to bring it back to pristine.
We walked in the light rain the 20 minutes to the station and then took our train south; everything went like clockwork.
We had achieved our ends. Two days at the wild-looking festival, with crowds blocking seemingly every piece of pavement, and dozens and dozens and dozens of people giving out leaflets for what seemed largely comedy shows. It was as if the world had come to Edinburgh increasingly to laugh. Or where the world’s laugh-makers gathered.
For all of the fun of the fair there is abjectness. Like London, prosperity will bring like magnets the despairing
Aside from some profanities that sneaked into my part of the Alex Salmond: Unleashed show, as his guest, I probably did well. I certainly met an enormous amount of people who were not just there to laugh, but also to listen to Alex, and to talk about homelessness, and poverty. Though this seemed buried under the laughter.
The flat that I stayed in was in what is called the New Town, though it is circa 250 years old. This is to distinguish it from the Old Town that seems to hang off the back of a long-running hill beyond the station and Princes Street. Fifty years ago when I lived in Edinburgh, the New Town was run down. Weeds seemed to fill many gardens. But now it’s spruced up and must be one of the most beautiful urban experiences anywhere in the UK.