Susan Morrison: Now here’s a festival that will definitely make history

Deacon Brodie on the gallows in Edinburgh.
Deacon Brodie on the gallows in Edinburgh.
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Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, if there’s one thing this town needs more than a tram system, it’s another bloody festival. So may I proudly present Previously – Scotland’s History Festival.

We’ve got history coming out of our ears here. Edinburgh is soaked in the stuff. We’re almost blasé about it. Oh yeah, we say to passing American tourists, that’s where we used to put people in the stocks for public disorder (just a thought in passing – should we reintroduce this?), behead people for terrible murder (just another thought – let’s not bother with reintroducing this one) or hang people for housebreaking (final thought – seriously, a bit of an overreaction there in the Deacon Brodie case, don’t you think? I mean, these days a bit of a slap on the wrist and some community service).

Well, at least that’s what I say to American tourists who have that charming, slightly baffled expression which means they are lost and therefore prey to history junkies like me. There are those who think I lurk in the High Street like some sort of history vampire, waiting in the shadows for the sound of a street map rustling and listening for the tones of a concerned young woman from Birmingham (Alabama or England, not bothered which) saying “I think we’re lost, honey.” Then I sweep from the dark, ready to infect strangers with my love of Edinburgh’s riots, murders, fishwives and deranged 18th-century coffee shop owners who dressed up as Delaware Indians to drum up trade.

So here we are, a city reeking with history, bung full of festivals, let’s get this show on the road. Now, those of you who know me well, know me well and wouldn’t trust me to open a Caramel Wafer, so a lot of clever people like my chum Ian Harrower, who had a reasonably normal life until I crashed in like something taking out the Ruhr Dam, have put together the aforementioned Previously.

The programme is out now, so please help yourself if you see one. And the website, which is brilliant and shiny and slaved over by my pal Marie Storrar, is right here www.historyfest.co.uk

There are 200 events. I’m going to them all. Yes. You’re right. I’ve done this just so I can spend two weeks gorging on history.

Sofa so good, but sharing will do us all a favour

Oh, and can I just make a plea, if you do see one of our programmes, can you share it about? We’ve got no money, you see, apart from what the lovely people at The Law Society and the Carnegie Challenge gave us. This means we’ve basically financed this entire festival with money we found down the back of the sofa. History Scotland magazine printed the programme for us, but we’ve only got a couple of thou, so, if you wouldn’t mind passing it round, that would be grand. Oh and yes, again, you’re absolutely right, this is a shameless punt for the festival, but like I say, zip dosh requires desperate measures, like sneaking this past the editor who thinks I’m writing a piece about hemlines. If I get this in by two o’clock he’s usually having his nap . . .

Pass round the collection plate and stop complaining about protesters

£14.50 to get into St Pauls down in London? What a shocker. Raised as I was in the chilly atmosphere of the Church of Scotland, where even passing round the collection plate was regarded as faintly embarrassing, this distinctly Mammon over God policy was a bit of an eye-opener. I know they’ve got a lot of marble and stuff to look after, but on the other hand, they’ve got some fairly well-off neighbours down there. Within the swing of a cassock there are at least half a dozen banks who could be tapped for a bob or two in exchange for a bit of reassurance about the “rich getting into heaven /camel through the eye of needle” scenario not actually applying to them. No wonder they’re a bit miffed at having people protest about capitalism on their doorstep.

Ouch, that’s my iBahookie

RELUCTANT as I am to land more bad news on the Apple Corporation, hard on the heels of the death of the visionary Steve Jobs, but I broke my iPhone. Now, devotees of the iPhone will tell you this is a near impossible achievement. I’ve heard of iPhones surviving toddler assault, 4x4 drive-overs and enthusiastic dog chewing. However, this phone failed to survive being in the back pocket of a pair of jeans, when the owner of said jeans slipped on something spilled on the kitchen floor, flew in the air then descended at great speed, backside first.

Clearly the scenario of a high velocity assault by a commodious, indeed capacious, Scottish bahookie was not employed by the testing facility of the Apple Corporation. I’m just warning Samsung now – you might want to think about it.