Susan Morrison: Festival antics would deter alien invaders

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Should the Grand Tharg Battle Fleet ever consider an invasion of Planet Earth and send an advance party down to scope the joint out, and should that away team land in the middle of the Fringe, Edinburgh, the great festival city, would save the planet.

Humans, our alien invaders would report, are amazingly slow moving. But this does not mean an easy conquest. Oh no. This is a human glacier. It may move slowly, but it can crush any fool who hesitates to check the bus times on Princes Street.

Anyone who turns and tries to walk against the tide is quickly reduced to a gibbering wreck as the mob buffers and thuds them, forcing them to turn in the correct direction.

Even more worrying for our aliens, this mob is sentient and has a cunning defence mechanism.

The herd mind of slow tourists can detect fast-moving foot traffic behind them, such as an office worker trying to get back to their desk, or a Fringe performer late for show time.

They grind to a complete standstill, apparently under the command of a man covered in silver paint pretending to be Charlie Chaplin. They stand there, waiting. They cannot go forward until the sliver Chaplin has moved at least once because a cute kid has dropped a £2 coin into his hat.

Behind them, they can hear the steps falter, and the battle cry of the busy, “Excuse me, excuse, sorry, can you let me past, sorry . . .” fades as the person in a hurry is absorbed by the mob. The rushed and put-upon suddenly feel at peace as they join the hive to shuffle glassy-eyed towards a weird little Yoda look-alike apparently sitting in mid-air.

Humans, they would note, are like penguins on ice floes, or wildebeest in the velt, they love hanging out in enormous crowds, especially around an outdoor bar in 
St Andrew Square.

Last Saturday, the square was so mobbed that one tiny tourist was trapped in the crush and doomed to circle the monument. Once every hour, he hove into view as he was carried past on the human tide, like a sort of Fringe-going Flying Dutchman.

Humans, they would report, love eating and moving at the same time. They also like to wear their food, and will choose especially messy concoctions to dribble down their clothes.

Bottom line, chief, they would say, body-swerve this planet. The invasion fleet would be crushed underfoot, and the stormtroopers would find themselves suddenly shuffling along clutching flyers, dribbling burger sauce all over their armour and stopping slack-jawed to look at a woman with a face full of piercings.

In any case, Most High Battle Commander, you couldn’t land the invasion fleet. Have you seen the cost of parking down there?


Oh, just a thought. If you’ve ever wonder what I sound like, or really look like, come along to St John’s Church on Sunday at 4.30. I’ll be there talking about the seriously dodgy history of the city, and may even mention bluebottles. It’s part of the wonderful Just Festival, who are like the Fringe, only unbelievably calm.

An experience to chew over

Looking for a word here, people. I’m working in the Yurt in St Andrew Square, which can get hot and stuffy in the relentless Scottish sun, but nothing ice-cold Irn-Bru can’t handle.

Of course I get busy, with sometimes only time for a quick swig before being distracted. Oh, is there any greater joy than that moment when you reconnect with your still chilled Bru, heave a happy sigh, connect lips to can and slug down a whacking great mouthful?

The word I’m looking for would encapsulate that spilt second when the enormous bluebottle, which had previously flown into your chosen beverage and subsequently drowned, thunks against and under your front teeth as it’s washed into your gob on a veritable Niagara of Bru.

That experience.

What’s a 6ft elf talking about in haberdashery?

Things you only see in the Fringe. A papier mache dragon shedding scales in the rain. A 16-year-old soprano rehearsing scales in the park.

American tourists in full heavy weather rain gear, slowly melting in the full force of a glorious Scottish summer day, pointing out, not unreasonably, that it had been raining yesterday and so, in theory, should be raining today.

The expression on American tourists’ faces when you explain that the rain gear is cool because downpours of near-biblical proportions are expected oh, right about . . . now.

A 6ft elf, complete with light-up hat, pointy shoes and a blue face, engaged in earnest conversation about zip fastenings with an attentive shop assistant in John Lewis’ haberdashery department. A fairy buying gin, Gandalf hailing a taxi and an elephant in the room.

Best of all, someone who thinks they are famous being ignored, whilst someone who is famous being left to themselves.

Good job, Edinburgh.