Regular readers may be aware that I often refer to my stroke and its aftermath as “StrokeFest 2012”. Now, notwithstanding the title above, let me assure you that I have no intention of repeating this as an annual event. In fact, my doctors have advised me that this would be a terrible idea. But “StrokeFest” does seem an appropriate descriptor. There were tears, laughter, love, and death-defying feats.
It did get in the way of our cultural lives, though. In the month or so following the night of September 30/October 1, we had tickets to go to see Louis CK, Craig Ferguson, and PiL, who are apparently killing it live. A couple of others, too, I think. Although, for the life of me, I can’t remember.
StrokeFest 2013 should be a somewhat different event. It’s just a stroke patient and his girlfriend wandering around events in the Edinburgh Festival. When I was a kid, the “Festival” was the Edinburgh International Festival, a carefully curated arts festival focusing on classical music, theatre, opera and dance, and the Fringe was a large collection of mostly theatrical and comedic events organised outside the auspices of the official festival.
Today, the “Edinburgh Festival” describes those two central events and around 25 other festivals that take place in Auld Reekie, mostly in August. For all that the famously crabbit Edinburgers like to complain about the festival and the annual influx of Auslanders, it’s one hell of a month, and another indication that Beth and I have timed my repatriation perfectly.
While our plans for last fall were somewhat spiked by “events, dear boy“, we’ve arranged to be present at a number of… well, events… this year. Touch wood, here’s Stroke Bloke’s guide to the Festival on a disability benefits budget….
- The Tattoo. Really, this is the only event that stretches said budget. Although in researching this post, I see that the organisers also present free abridged performances at the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens, entitled “Taste of the Tattoo”. I have to admit that I’m not the most militaristic bloke in the world. But there was that time I heard the skirl of the pipes rolling over the soccer fields of Austin, TX, and before the end of the first half of extra time, had instigated a 21-man brawl. The tattoo is one of the centerpiece events of the Festival, and we’ll be going along so I can indulge the uber-Scottishness of the sixteen-year emigrant, and pay tribute to the origins of the word “tattoo”.
- Dick Gaughan. As a corrective to all this pomp and pageantry, we’ll be going to see eminent socialist folkie, Dick Gaughan, as part of the Fringe. To my shame, I’ve only become aware of Dick since StrokeFest 2012 (h/t Kirkie), but, as set forth in the Fringe programme, he’s “[t]he only performer to hold the honours of a Lifetime Achievement award by BBC Radio2 Folk Awards and induction into the Scots Traditional Music Hall of Fame.” His 1981 album, Handful Of Earth, was Melody Maker’s album of the year, and went on to become Folk Roots‘ readers’ and critics’ album of the decade. Here’s why: Workers’ Song.
- The Smyths. Continuing to Oscillate Wildly, we’re going to see The Smyths’ “outstandingly accurate and thrilling tribute to The Smiths… celebrating 30 years since the release of Hand In Glove and This Charming Man.” I mean, I assume faux Moz will cancel due to “illness”, but, y’know…. [Apologies to social media followers who have seen my new favourite joke already.]
- Dandy Darkly’s Gory Hole. These events haven’t been organised in any particular order (I mean, this is apoplectic.me, after all), but I am rather pleased at the ways the links are presenting themselves. [Actually, let’s just file the link for this one under “I was a teenage Smiths fan”.] Here’s a taste of New York. As his site will tell you, Mr. Darkly “hosts variety shows across Manhattan and Brooklyn” and has hosted at the Stonewall Inn. ‘Nuff said. Well, maybe a little more…. On the Fringe this year, he’ll be presenting “…an utterly unique and potentially fatal cocktail of mince and menace that’s not to be believed…. A fat gay lad skins a bear! A rural American town hides its most shameful secrets! A zombie plague decimates disco-era dandies! And more!” ‘Nuff said.
- Tea, Cake and Death.
I spoken about “death cafes” on the blog before. Now we’re going to one, part of the Just Festival (nee Festival of Spirituality & Peace). Don’t know what to expect, exactly. Fearful of a bunch of “life-ies” chuntering on like they hold the keys to the universe, while I sit on my hands. What I’ve been told to expect is “[a] light hearted natter taking the darkness out of death, whether you believe in an afterlife or not. Punjab’n De Rasoi will provide traditional refreshments served at a Sikh funeral.” Edinburghers should feel free to join us at this one.
‘Cos it’s free, and we can chat about your impending demise.
- Bach’s Cello Suite, No. 1. Ah. A bit of class. Another event on the Just Festival Program. Beth’s partial to a bit of cello, and this is only a fiver a throw. According to Ian Wiki, Suite No. 1 (the preludes), is probably the best known movement from the entire set of suites and is regularly heard on television and in films. Can’t say it’s ringing any immediate bells, but if it’s half as good as this, we’re in for a treat: Elgar’s Cello Concerto (extract). We’ve been promised a bit of musical saw, too. Really.
- The Book Festival. We haven’t snapped up any tickets for this yet, but suffice to say that my old delict and criminal law professor, Sandy McCall Smith (always an entertainingly dark and witty lecturer), and my old summer school creative writing guru (and Scotland’s greatest living writer), Alan Spence, will be in attendance.
I’m can’t promise no strokes, but if any of this takes your fancy, we’d love to see you for a wee bit of culture.
Have a lovely August,