John Gibson: Tracking down a bellydancer

Hillary Thacker. Pic:  Steven Scott Taylor
Hillary Thacker. Pic: Steven Scott Taylor
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One of the roving kind. Edinburgh’s best-known belly dancer, the roving Hilary Thacker – trying to tracker ain’t easy – took off from here on Tuesday for Morocco and she was in the Sahara, sand in her sandals, when I finally got hold of her yesterday.

She well knows the road to Morocco. How long this time? ‘‘I really don’t know. A month, two months, maybe three,’’ she twittered down the phone. “I’m here by invitation to a festival of nomads. There’s music and poetry and buy-and-sell. I’ve brought jewellery with me. I try to cover expenses.’’

Hilary, below, never objects to the “nomadic” tag. She opened her own shop, Hilary’s Bazaar, on George IV Bridge before flitting to the Old Town and decamping with that shop to a corner site on the Canongate. ‘‘Since I left there it has become an unsuccessful gift shop and the last I heard it was to be a Kurdish/Turkish barbers,’ she adds. ‘‘But call me basically a belly dancer. I gave a couple of private lessons before I left and I’ve been booked to perform at a wedding in Inverness come September.’’

Then what? “Perhaps it’s the true nomad in me. I don’t know. But it won’t be a shop in the Canongate. Or on George IV Bridge. Very possibly somewhere I’ll have sand beneath my feet.”

Runaway costs

When do we get a new runway for Edinburgh? Do we need one? Do we have the space? Anyway, an encouraging word for the unfortunates who live under the flight path.

I’m told Gatwick Airport has offered its neighbours £1000 per household in compensation for the noise. Gatwick’s chief exec, Stewart Wingate, is saying the payouts will cost £4 million a year.