It wouldn’t be the Festival without Demarco - John McLellan

Richard DemarcoRichard Demarco
Richard Demarco
If there is a living embodiment of the spirit of the Edinburgh Festivals, it’s Richard Demarco, still going strong at 93, still with his camera round his neck ready to record the world around him.

The last time I saw him was not at a performance or exhibition but at the Northfield Community Council, passionately arguing against the demolition of St John’s primary school, and his fire for an argument burns as brightly as ever.

“The fact is we’re not living in a truly civilized city,” he told The Herald newspaper last month.

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“The crowds queuing up to go into the Assembly Hall on the Mound are not people going to see A Satire of The Three Estates or the world’s greatest theatre companies. They are going to get a dose of stand-up comedy.”

I’d argue it’s surely good that people can participate and enjoy what they like, but not for him. “My job is to try to help artists survive, to escape the horror of the world of entertainment,” he said.

He can certainly still spark a debate and that’s as important a contribution as his work itself, and his massive role in Edinburgh’s cultural life has been captured in a new book, Demarco’s Edinburgh, co-written with author Roddy Martine, another city treasure whose wonderful take on Edinburgh society once graced the pages of this newspaper.

The book will be launched at the Boardwalk Beach Café on Marine Drive next Thursday, apparently with an accordionist and an opera singer.

Well, it wouldn’t be a Demarco festival event otherwise, would it?

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