The streets are walkable again! Edinburgh festival round-up

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The festivals are over, and Edinburgh is starting to shake off its hangover and get back to work. There are still plenty of tourists in town, but nowhere near the numbers of the past three weeks. It’s nice to be able to stroll around without being constantly stuck in a crowd.

That said, I was surprised to find myself really enjoying the festivals this year. It’s hard to predict if I’ll be able to enjoy things without Scott, since everything brings up memories and feels different without him, especially everything about life in Edinburgh. And sometimes, a wave of grief will hit, and I’ll find myself crying as I wander around George Square trying to decide what I want for dinner and wishing I could tell Scott about the covfefe stand. But the wave will pass, and later I’ll be clapping along to 9 to 5 at Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows.

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The book festival held its place as my favorite again this year. Besides the delightfully death-oriented events, I managed to squeeze in several others, as well. Tim Harford discussed his book Messy: How to Be Creative and Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World, which made me feel properly proud of the chaos that is my studio. Obstacles can be excellent for creativity, and Harford provided some fascinating examples of this.

Continuing the theme of events that will tell me what I want to hear, I also saw Why Reading is Good for You with Josie Billington and Rick Rylance. They made compelling arguments for why literature is good for society and good for mental health.

Two of my favorite British comedians wrote feminist books this year, and I was delighted to catch both of their events. Sara Pascoe discussed her book Animal and Robert Webb discussed How Not to be a Boy. Both came off as thoughtful and engaged, none of the usual dullness that comes with ‘hey a celebrity wrote a book.’ I’m looking forward to reading both.

Also at the book fest, every day at 3pm there’s a free event called Storyshop, where a local writer reads a short story (I submitted a story which made it to the  shortlist for this, so I was eager to hear the work of those who beat me). I made it to four or five of these, and was definitely impressed with the local talent. Continuing on the short story theme, I also went to hear the finalists for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize read from their collections, and was dually inspired to up my short story game for next year.

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Back at the other festivals, I took in a handful of Fringe comedy shows, including my perennial favorites Funny for a Grrrl and other best of the fest compilations (that way if you don’t like a particular comedian, at least you’re only stuck with him for 10 minutes, rather than a long, painful hour). Aditi Mittal and Arielle Dundas were the best solo shows I saw this year.

So yes, a fun August. I am so lucky to live in this city with its annual explosion of culture (punctuated by nightly fireworks displays visible from my kitchen window). I understand why the crowds flock here.

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