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.
The book festival held its place as my favorite again this year. Continue reading
One of this year’s themes at the Edinburgh International Book Festival is ‘Reading the Final Chapter‘, a collection of events centered around death. This feels very well-timed for me, as much of my recent reading (and writing) has been on this topic. I appreciate the open and frank discussions that are being held. Death and grieving are nothing to be ashamed of, so why not speak about them freely?
On Sunday I went to see Richard Holloway, a well-known local writer and the former Bishop of Edinburgh (who has since left the church). I found his mix of thoughtfulness and kindness very appealing. He spoke of the importance of living in the present, rather than in the past, even as one approaches one’s own death – also good advice for the bereaved as well as everyone else, really.
Holloway declared it a tragedy to die without knowing who you were. An audience member suggested the exercise of writing your own obituary from other points of view – how would others sum up who you are? I don’t think I really know the answer to that.
Today I went to see Julia Samuel, a psychotherapist who specializes in grief counseling. Many people in the audience had gushingly positive things to say about her book Grief Works, sharing how it had helped them. She spoke in part about the history of grieving in the UK, how in the Victorian era mourning was fashionable but sex was taboo, but the reverse is true today.
I confess I’d never given much thought to how we talk about death in today’s society before Scott died. Now I’m confronted with the topic daily, never knowing when/if/how I should bring up my recent widowhood. Some people seem to be uncomfortable when I mention Scott at all, even when it’s to relate a memory that has nothing to do with his death. Part of me always wonders – am I talking about him too much? How can I make people more comfortable around me? Am I doing grief wrong? These events at the book festival haven’t relieved me of my ongoing social awkwardness, but they have definitely made me feel less alone in my grief.
I once heard a comedian (it may have been Ed Byrne) talk about how amongst comedians, the month of August is simply known as ‘Edinburgh.’ ‘What are you doing for Edinburgh?’ ‘Oh, I’ll be spending it in Florida.’ Here in Edinburgh, August often just gets called ‘the festival.’ Locals discuss their festival plans, whether or not they involve any actual time at festivals. If you’re in Edinburgh during August, the festivals will be impacting your life whether you attend them or not. They are inescapable.
This year most of my planning for August has involved preparing for a large art exhibition I’ll be putting on. (If you’ll be in town, please come see it!) It has been good to have something to work towards, a way to focus my energy in this post-Scott reality where I am still finding my feet. I’m kind of impressed with myself that I’m doing anything productive at all these days.
Purrcules was as excited about the arrival of the Book Festival programme as I was!
My favorite of all the August festivals is the Book Festival. I haven’t gotten around to acquiring any tickets yet, but I have scoured the programme and used it as inspiration for my summer reading choices. The big names (Zadie Smith, Paul Auster, Ali Smith, Alexander McCall Smith) will have sold out on the first day. (One of the things I love about Edinburgh is the around-the-block queue which forms in the wee hours on the morning the Book Festival tickets go on sale.)
I’ve spent four Augusts in Edinburgh so far. Scott was receiving chemotherapy during two of them, but even those years we managed to see a couple Fringe shows together. I will miss him most during the nightly fireworks at the end of the Tattoo, which we could see from our kitchen window. Whatever we were doing when the first booms sounded, Scott would insist we run to the window and watch them, every night of the festival.
I have kind of fallen in love with the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year. In addition to hosting lots of interesting book-themed events, it’s a charming place to hang out, to meet friends for a drink. Browsing the onsite bookstore Continue reading
This year I am diving head-first into the Edinburgh International Book Festival, just one of the many festivals going on in the city this month. Conveniently self-contained on Charlotte Square in New Town, the Book Festival grounds consist of several theaters, a big book shop, a couple of bars and cafes, and lots of lovely outdoor seating (some of it covered, perfect on a drizzly day). Continue reading
At the Hot Dub Time Machine stage
Edinburgh turns its city center into one gigantic party for New Year’s Eve, a day known in Scots as Hogmanay (pretty much tied with the German Silvester for most adorable thing to call New Year’s Eve). Continue reading
After a very expat Christmas in the US, we came back to Edinburgh to experience the glory that is Hogmanay for the first time. Continue reading
I was so looking forward to the arrival of the Fringe programs this year, I even marked it in my calendar. Yes, all of the shows (over 3,000 of them) are listed on the website, too, but for browsing purposes the paper catalog is much more fun. Continue reading
Edinburgh is a frenzy of activity during August. One of the biggest draws during this time is the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a daily performance held inside a temporary stadium that is erected in front of the castle each summer. Military bands from around the world are invited to perform, and the whole thing ends up being a lot more interesting than the words “military bands” might lead you to expect. Continue reading
So much to see, so little time. The Fringe is exhausting us with its entertainment possibilities. What will life be like when there aren’t hundreds of live shows to choose from each day? Here’s what we’ve seen in the past week:
Tig Notaro ***** Tig was probably the performer we were looking forward to the most, and she did not disappoint. Tears of laughter.
Janeane Garofalo **** Somehow I managed to not even notice her on the Fringe schedule until last week, but luckily tickets were still available. Well worth it.
Rich Hall **** Until recently, the name Rich Hall reminded me only of Sniglets. Continue reading