Edinburgh was a very different place when young Holy Cross Academy pupil Richard Demarco was enthralled by the city’s first International Festival in 1947.
The teenager, of course, went on to become as closely associated with the city’s festivals as any one person could be. His contribution to the cultural life of the Capital – from founding the Traverse Theatre to introducing countless new artists to a wider public – has been enormous.
Today, it is impossible to think of Edinburgh without its festivals, but it is worth remembering that things needn’t have turned out that way. It is down to the vision and passion of Mr Demarco and others like him that the Capital is today indisputably the greatest festival city in the world.
Mr Demarco – or Ricky as he is known to his countless friends – has been honoured in France, Italy and Poland, and by the Queen. Yet it seemed at times as though one of Edinburgh’s great pioneers was destined to go without proper recognition in his home city. The presentation of the prestigious Edinburgh Award is an entirely fitting way to put that right.
Is Alistair Darling right about the effect of independence on Edinburgh? Certainly many economists will line up to disagree with him.
The important thing for Lothian voters is that the consequences of a Yes vote on the city and region are talked through. Until now, all of the debate has, understandably, focused on macroeconomic issues, such as the pound, EU membership and oil revenues. Voters here also want a debate on how the Capital will be shaped under an independent Scotland.
More public sector jobs? A loss of private sector employment? Greater investment in infrastructure and transport? Whatever the answers, we need the debate now.