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Festival Rage Reprise

Guy reminded me that one year ago yesterday, I wrote the following, and I thought I’d repost it here rather than leave it languishing on Vox.

To walk the streets of Edinburgh in August is to feel such rage and hatred for one’s fellow man that it is damn nigh impossible to avoid committing terrible, violent acts.

I just manage to avoid ripping off my own arm and using it to beat the living shit out of every fat, lumpy child wheezing their way along Princes Street by engaging in a calming mental exercise: looking at people, and placing the people I see into a number of categories. With apologies to Mr. Borges, they are as follows.

Those that are untrained

Anyone who practices their circus ‘skills’ outwith the confines of a big top. An obvious target, for sure, but stilt-walkers (tall beggars), jugglers (beggars with balls), magicians (just plain twats) deserve the full weight of your hatred. If you wish to give money to someone in unusual clothing with no discernible talent, there are blanket-wrapped homeless people conveniently placed every 200 yards along the city’s major thoroughfares (some of them even have little dogs with them!).

Unfabulous ones

Weak-chinned, furrow-browed inbred fuck-knuckles from a minor public school or insignificant Oxbridge college who believe that the absolute pinnacle of avant-garde theatrical thinking is to mount a production of a Shakespeare play in modern dress (preferably Nazi uniforms, which they self-consciously wear at all times). These over-priviledged mouth-breathers deserve to have their lavishly printed promotional flyers jammed up their aristo bumholes.

Those that may belong in one category or another

Everyone plays ‘Gay or European?’, don’t they? Just in case you don’t, this game rests on entering the mindset of a Daily Express-reading bigot and assuming that gay people wear a lot of pastel shades and furry-collared leather jackets, and knot their jumpers around their shoulders. Gay men don’t do this, but European men do. So it’s quite an unsatisfying game, as the answer is always ‘European’. Still, passes the time. (Similarly, my lovely friend Hannah and I invented a game in Budapest, called ‘Loving Couple, or Mother and Son?’, because there’s either a lot of intergenerational knobbing going on beside the Danube, or Hungarian culture allows young men to walk arm in arm with their Mums without everybody they pass suppressing an Oedipal retch. This one is playable in Edinburgh, but the mystery pairings don’t appear all that often, to be honest.)

Those that should be set on fire with their stupid cigar

Bit of a one-off, this [and it no longer makes much sense], but I saw pompous fatso ‘comedian’ Mel Smith this afternoon, slouched at the entrance of his hotel, and doing a rubbish slack-jawed Churchill impersonation while puffing away on a fat Havana. Not satisfied with drumming up publicity for his no-doubt-shite play by threatening to smoke on stage in contravention of the perfectly sensible anti-smoking laws of Scotland, Mr. Mel ‘I haven’t made anyone laugh since Not The Nine O’Clock News’ Smith was actually smoking pointedly in the street in the hope that someone would bound up to him and applaud his glorious fight against the Evil Bureaucrats and for, er, the precious right to give people lung cancer with second-hand smoke. What a cunt.

Those that resemble twats from a distance

…but actually turn out to be totally fucking cool, so briefly restoring one’s faith in humanity. Two sub-categories for this one.

  1. Teenage girls from Japan. It’s a truism, I know, but no one dresses better than an absurdly wealthy Japanese teenager (except, possibly, an absurdly wealthy Parisian woman of a certain age). Today I saw a gaggle of them all dressed as Axl Rose circa Appetite for Destruction. And they totally pulled it off. Amazing. Hats off to them.
  2. Happily married American couples over the age of sixty five who wear almost-matching beige outfits and absurdly huge sun visors (women) or absurdly huge baseball caps (men), and spend their entire day beaming with deep pleasure at the sight of buildings actually built before they were born. Bless.

Those in hats

Previous sub-category excepted, anyone in a hat in Edinburgh during August is a total fucking shitweasel. Examples: Americans proclaiming their Americanity by wearing a ten-gallon stetson. Outrageously pissed rugby-shirted toffs in ‘See you Jimmy’ bonnets complete with matted ginger wig attachments. 50-something purse-lipped theatrical gentlemen unironically sporting fucking berets. Those women who dress like your Primary School art & craft teacher, with their amber beads, floaty peasant skirts, and big stupid floppy hats that serve to emphasise the fact that their free-thinking eccentricity is bought out of a cheaply-printed catalogue that comes free with some middlebrow Sunday supplement. &c. &c.

Those who can give you directions

Spotting the natives is easy. Once again, two sub-cats:

  1. Plump, ginger, pasty women stuffed into two-sizes-too-small trouser-suits from TK Maxx, smoking furiously. Only on the streets at lunchtime, or just after 5.30pm, but they will know where Thistle Street North East Lane is.
  2. 30-something men in outrageously expensive but grease-stained casualwear and blessed with the sunken cheeks, hollow eyes and scabbed-up hands that only two decades of dedicated heroin use can give. Their directions will be vague, and they may require a donation of a cigarette, but you will probably get an amusing story about them pissing themselves in a train station along with the best way to get to Gayfield Square.

Stray hacks

Workshy Anglowegian journalist snobs with anger control issues who spend 15 whole minutes ranting impotently and pretentiously on a weblog instead of revelling in the fact that they get a) paid and b) pissed for free any night of the week in return for wandering around Edinburgh looking at beautiful things. Twats.

Posted at 4pm on 09/08/07 by Jack Mottram to the art and culture category.
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  1. Festivals can be a daunting experience for first-timers. The Tickets4Festivals survival guide should help you…
    Choose a good pitch - preferably away from the toilets
    Test run putting your new tent up before you go as putting it up in the dark won’t be much fun, if it’s the first time.
    don’t wear your smart designer clothes - they’ll get trashed at a festival.
    Nobody likes a cold beer - take only what you mind drinking warm.
    Don’t take valuables to festivals - apart from the risk of them getting stolen or damaged or covered in mud, do you really need to take your ipod?
    Make friends with those camping around you - that way people tend to keep an eye out for each other - for example it’s easier to spot a “stranger” going into someone’s tent. Plus you’ll have a much better time if you socialise rather than keeping yourself to yourself - this is what festivals are all about!
    …..If you’re getting on famously, remember to practise safe sex!
    If you put a padlock on your tent, you might as well have a banner on it as well that says “there’s something in here worth nicking”.
    The toilets at festivals are notoriously unpleasant, it’s just something you’ll have to put up with. Take baby wipes, and keep your loo roll in a waterproof plastic bag.
    Smile, and have a good time!

    Posted by Dave at 10pm on 21.01.08


    Posted by Dave at 10pm on 21.01.08

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