Scottish High Life

An Aussie reports from her new Scottish Home.

Edinburgh has this funny smell. Kind of like a cross between a roasting chicken and a piece of vegemite toast. The Caledonian Brewery in ‚Auld Reekie’ pumps out a perfume that sometimes smells like Weetabix, and at other times more like cornflakes. It’s a surprisingly antisocial quirk for a city that does hospitality so well.

Whereas a little digging quickly reveals Glasgow’s charismatic idiosyncracies Edinburgh is generally more conservative – except in August.

The city overflows with people, without feeling overcrowded. Walking down the high street there are hundreds of street performers and hordes of souvenir T-shirted performers canvassing for audiences. There is a giant silver inflated castle with lighting effects, ambient music and people napping gently in the corners.

New to Edinburgh at the beginning of the Festival I decided getting involved was the best way to see it from the inside. Armed with a snip of experience and a talent for being in the right place at the right time, I landed myself a job as a Wardrobe Mistress on a rather irritating 1950s attempt at humour.

Surprisingly, it opened to high grandma acclaim and drew solid audiences who were in stitches at the ‚comedy’. I was promoted to chief french-roll hairdresser and my fan club won the youngest audience member prize by about 30 years.

Duly occupied during the evenings, I then had only my days in which to choose from the bewildering array of potential viewing. The Fringe alone has more than 1000 shows including – inevitably – plenty of duds.

Aerial Dance Theatre, for example, turned out not to be floaty dance swinging from the rafters of some stunning old building, but dancers wobbling awkwardly from climbing ropes in a small marquee in the middle of a noisy funfair. One even fell off.

The Military Tattoo was more memorable. With the makeshift stadium nestled against the brightly lit castle ramparts, the traditional finale of a lone bagpiper playing from high on the battlements was stunning.

Despite all the excitement it was almost a relief when the whole thing was over. Streets reopened, rubbish was cleared and the queue at my favourite baked potato shop dissolved.

Students returned as tourists fled the creeping cold and we all began to look forward to Hogmanay. And the Christmas festival. And the Science Festival. And the Festival of the Environment. Auld Reekie it may be, but it does a great line in entertainment.

Have you worked somewhere cool?



quirk dziwactwo
hospitality gościnność
to dig kopać, wygrzebywać
idiosyncrasy osobliwość
to canvas for zabiegać o…
inflated nadmuchiwany
armed with uzbrojony w…
acclaim aplauz; wychwalać
duly zgodnie z oczekiwaniami
bewildering oszałamiający
dud niewypał, do niczego
to wobble trząść się, chwiać
marquee namiot
makeshift doraźny, tymczasowy
rampart wał, szaniec
bagpiper kobziarz
to flee uciekać