Another plane labours off the tarmac, wallowing under its load of tired and emotional performers still wincing at the painfully fresh memory of the shows where no one turned up apart from one man and his dog, and both of them fell asleep. Jaded critics tap away at articles about how the whole thing is a shambles and should be revamped or scrapped altogether. The frenzy of the Edinburgh Festival is over for another year.
For many native Edinburgh folk, the end of the festival is greeted with a sigh of relief. To once again be able to get about town without being assaulted by English wags in drag or yodeling Greeks dressed as bananas when all you want to do is get home from work, pick the kids up from school, cook the tea.
I grew up in Edinburgh and never saw anything at the Festival or Fringe until my mid-twenties. When I was a kid, it was something for tourists, not for us. It just happened to be taking place in our city. It took living elsewhere for a few years to make me see the city, including the madness of August, in a new way.
Now, when not pushed for time and beset by persistent Greek bananas, I love it. I really do. I love the energy, the passion, the creativity. It restores my faith in humanity to see so many people still care about this stuff, that it still matters, is still an essential part of what it means to be human and alive. It’s ridiculous, spontaneous, flawed and wonderful. Close to my heart, the Book Festival this year was busier than ever with beaming book lovers of all ages, proving that rumours of the Death of the Book have been greatly exaggerated.
Much as I love August though, I think September is my favourite Edinburgh month. There’s such a change in atmosphere between the two months that it feels as if I’ve been away and only just come home and can appreciate it all over again. The whole place seems bigger, the streets wider, the sky higher. The temperature drops and the air is so bright and clear that not only can you see Fife from the top of the Mound, but it feels like you can see every tree, every building. There’s a certain post-party melancholy in the darkening nights, but it’s of that enjoyable sort, edged with a comfortable glow. It was a good party. And it’ll all come back next year.
There’s no need to go cold turkey till then though. The fantastic Edinburgh Mela kicks off tonight for a whole weekend of music and dancing, good company and amazing food. No need to rush the return to normality just yet.