Neil Hudson (neilhudson) wrote,
Neil Hudson

Edinburgh diary day one

As regular readers will know, it’s usually taken me a couple of weeks to get around to writing up my experiences in Edinburgh. Always a great respecter of tradition, I have done exactly the same this year and will therefore start with 18 August.

One of the problems with being fan of early 70s German electronic music is that I’m not always sure if the sound is coming from the CD or my car. On this occasion I had to admit that the noise of my brakes wasn’t possible on a Moog oscillator in 1971, but as I’ve solved most problems in my life merely by outliving them, I decided to keep driving and just not brake much. It did look as if my trip would be cancelled before it had even started, but in fact the noise subsided and I arrived at Edinburgh only a couple of hours after Google Maps had promised. One person complimented me on my hat, but this appeared to be an excuse to give me a flyer. I felt used.

There had been nothing I’d come for in particular, but once I’d decided on the dates I’d decided to book tickets for the Kronos Quartet. I had an odd seat, at the right-hand corner of the stage, which gave me an excellent view of the cellist’s back but otherwise wasn’t such a bad place to be, especially as none of the seats around me were full and I was spared the experience of people coughing in my ear louder than usual so they can be heard above the musicians. I didn’t know any of the music on the programme, but this was largely because I didn’t get a programme until on the way out (I sometimes experiment with living backwards, or rather, I‘m going to), and as David Harrington wasn’t talking to the audience to an almost Gothic extent, I was confused - I’d been under the impression that it was a single piece by Aleksandra Vrebalov (whom I’d never heard of) but in fact the first half of the programme was music from the early twentieth century, making me believe that Vrebalov must write in a large variety of styles (although to be fair, Kronos virtually never play non-contemporary music). The main piece was Vrebalov’s Beyond Zero, accompanied by a film of unseen World War One footage that seemed to be in the process of decaying even as it was being shown. I’m pleased to say that I really enjoyed this music and have made a mental note to find out more about her.

There was only one way to follow a film about the horrors of the First World War: Miss Glory Pearl, The Naked Stand-Up. I can report that Miss Pearl would not be prosecuted under the Trades Description Act, although in fact she wore a pair of shoes, as would anyone who‘s ever been in an Edinburgh bar, and hat for decency‘s sake. This wasn’t just a gimmick: her show was about our attitudes to our bodies and sexualities, and besides, as she said, when you’re a stripper, it’s a lot less work if you don’t put the clothes on in the first place. The audience seemed to be half men and half women (the word “seemed” being my assume-nothing gender-issues get-out clause) and Miss Pearl insisted on talking to all of us individually about our own bodies, her main point being that we spend too much time complaining about them and not enough appreciating them. If I were being savagely critical I’d say that this was 101 stuff - you’d have to have given it no thought at all to be surprised by the point of the show - but some people probably haven‘t, and I suspect that most stand-ups in Edinburgh have far less to say about the world. So I thought this was great, it was one of those shows where I felt as if I’d become friends with the performer, and had to remember that I wasn’t. Even though I’d been talking to her while she had no clothes on.

This only took me to 11:30, but I’d spent most of the day travelling and the rest thinking about industrial-scale warfare and naked women. I hadn’t even unpacked. So I went home and unpacked a bottle of wine.

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