BALLS of Steel host Mark Dolan’s new Fringe show is called You’re Awesome, as, he says, is Scotland’s Capital.
I LIVED in Edinburgh for four years as a student. It’s one of the greatest cities in Europe. Richly cultural, architecturally jaw-dropping, and per head of population, boasts the greatest range of pubs anywhere on the planet. And ultimately I judge every city on how and where I can enjoy a great pint.
It’s a pumping, buzzing hive of activity and has all the trappings of an important Capital city - massive company HQs alongside towering historical monuments. Added to that, there are the globally renowned sports stadia, the art galleries, theatres and of course countless wallet-lightening shops. But unusually for a major Capital, Edinburgh has the compact geography and intimacy of a large town. If you are a walker, you can mostly socialise by foot, wandering, for example, from your pied a terre in Marchmont, down to the Jolly Roger on the Royal Mile.
Or you can have a nice little hike uphill from Stockbridge to, say, Bannermans on Cowgate. You might even fancy a gentle saunter east from Tollcross to one of my favourite watering holes The Montague (formerly The Maltings) on St Leonard’s Street.
If that wasn’t enough, amid the urban grandeur of Auld Reekie juts the hand of nature - Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill are two majestic mounds I have drunkenly attempted to scale on more than one occasion, sometimes in female company, sometimes, alas, not.
Arriving at the tender age of 18, as a lifelong Londoner, I was struck by Edinburgh’s strong cultural identity. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but it was immediately apparent I was in another country.
I was about to embark on a four-year degree in politics and I was humbled by the knowledge that I was being welcomed as a guest of this great, distinct and proud nation of Scotland. And being educated at one of its great seats of learning - The University of Edinburgh. I was instantly sold. And I haven’t even mentioned that Festival thing in August... Edinburgh, I love you. You’re awesome.
Mark Dolan: You’re Awesome!, Gilded Balloon, Teviot, until 25 August, 7.45pm, £9-£10, 0131-226 0000