The Leither Alternative Festival Awards

Posted by in September's Magazine

Jesus. Has it come to this? Producing hate-speak to order. Actually that’s a tad melodramatic – which is apt, as everyone is prone to coming down with a bout of the Oliviers come August in Edinburgh; an affliction which sees the sufferer embrace their inner twat for four whole weeks. In 2007, I set out for a loaf of bread and found myself playing a haunted bin bag in Oxgangs Community Theatre’s reworking of The Seagull. Before returning to my usual default setting of shouting at trams and sneering at monuments.

Sorry, where was I? Oh that’s right; trying to bang out another 850 words of lazy bile about the aftermath of The Festival and its maddening milieu. Hang on, I just used the word milieu, I’d better glass myself back into pithy ‘man of the people’ mode, lest I succumb further to this creeping desire to play ‘The Dane’ dressed as a Star Wars Stormtrooper or whatever. Or to put it in English, I’ve committed to doing an overview of said Festival from the perspective of a resident.


Trouble is, I actually dinnae mind The Festival really. It beats having your city carpet bombed with dog shit once a year (although judging by the state of some Edinburgh parks, that may have already happened – perhaps it’s a slow-burn installation by some atrophy obsessed fuckwit who thinks the work of Richard Prince is unalloyed genius). And hey, if you are averse to the whole braying overbearing snootiness of the thing, all you need do is steel yourself and/or prepare some boltholes or alternative distractions in advance. Hating it feels too much like last year’s misanthropy, daaahling.

Instead, this year no exception, I tend to ignore the whole thing and think of the spondulicks which will flow into the city’s coffers. Actually they probably won’t go anywhere near the city’s coffers as the council would likely spend it on a new hat for the castle, a unicycle park or even an absurd transport initiative. Nah, true to the spirit of old Jezza Corbyn’s take on QE, we should take all the dosh and spray the citizenry with spendable. To para-quote ‘Junkie 3’ from the bar scene early in The French Connection – the best police film of all time – “something big coming, we all gonna get well.”

Incidentally if you were looking for The Theatre of the Absurd, you shouldn’t have wasted time flapping about the Pleasance, Bristo Square or a requisitioned Scout Hut near Liberton (Venue 248,002). I refer you back to the aforementioned Corbyn. Seriously, you should have tuned in to the burble-fest that is the Labour leadership contest and you’d have had Beckett (Samuel) painted a mundane impostor, an accountant, not a poet. I mean, where to start – it’s such a never-ending buffet of soul-skewering wrong-headedness.

Let’s just say that when you examine Corbyn’s key policy commitments, he’s about as hard left as The Wombles. But that won’t wash with an MSM determined to rubbish anything vaguely west of Thatcher. I’m waiting for their makeover of The Monday Club, soon to be represented as a cheerful diversion akin to decoupage, keeping rabbits or whipping up a Treacle Pocket for Bake-Off.

Better men than me have ripped the curtain back, so I won’t dwell on the politics of it – recent opinion pieces by Frankie Boyle and Ian Martin on Labour’s woes are so on the money, they’re just showing off really. The overriding issue here is that The Festival and its lumbering half-idiot brother The Fringe (yes, it’s George and Lenny from Of Mice and Men in annual event form) are now officially surplus to requirements. Seriously, we have all the bases covered 365 days a year.

Is that the sound of a collective “huh?” more likely a collective yawn at this point. But stay with me if you don’t have any breathing to do anytime soon. Yes, the arts are for life not just for August. Indeed the main disciplines are covered routinely day after sodding day. Don’t believe me? Well put your hands together please folks, because joining The Theatre of the Absurd in politics are…

The Sycophantic Overtures
A symphony for the faux outraged, the easily duped and the generally confused. The sound of ordinary Joes pandering to the same lies of the broken financial system (and its venal cohort) that caused all this, swallowing guff about maxing credit cards, tightening belts and making sacrifices.

Just for Laffs USA!
Look over there! It’s presidential candidate Donald Trump. Yes, that’s right… presidential candidate. Why aren’t you laughing? And why are you in a foetal position, sobbing and chewing razor wire?

Yanis and The Forty Bailouts
Greek pantomime. Join the howling mob on the moral high ground as Uncle Troika helps poor bedraggled Greece out of a hole and into a nearby bottomless well. Behind you? Oh no it isn’t!

Earth – A Magic Act
Hot stuff this one. Watch in amazement as we make coastlines, species and even whole continents disappear. Slowly. Brought to you by the virus with shoes* called us.

*Apologies to Bill Hicks

Illustration by Dave Sutton

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