The Skeleton

Before I attended the Glastonbury music festival in 2005, I would always say “I go to Edinburgh every year” when other hairy people asked me if I’d ever been to a festival.

I’d know they wouldn’t be happy with this response of course: they meant music festival – and specifically in the one-weekend, sensory-overload, drug-fueled, covered in mud sort of way but my reply about Edinburgh was my punishment to them for being overly presumptive.

If you’re not going to include literature, comedy, theatre or film festivals under your schema of ‘festivals’ then don’t speak to me. You’re prejudiced against squares, you are. Why aren’t you at home listening to music by faux-squares like the Kaiser Chiefs or something?

I’d like to come up with a retort for the similarly presumptive “Who do you support?” question which doesn’t involve football or the supporting of one’s legs in return for their supporting of one.

The best I can come up with is: “Who? Who? I think you mean WHOM! Arsenal!”

The fans of footy don’t like this sort of banter though and pointing out grammatical inaccuracies to them is a good way of finding yourself reduced to your component molecules.

Last week resulted in multiple sojourns to Edinburgh to soak up the foamy suds of the now-in-full-swing Festival. Now that I’m there with plenty of real music festival experience to compare it too, I realize that the two sorts of festival are remarkably similar experiences. Both involve lots of slow walking about in orderly lines.

Saturday in particular involved a lot of this sort of shuffling but was otherwise great and summed up everything I love about festival Edinburgh. I spent most of the time hanging out in the marquee of Luke Wright’s Poetry Party, drinking cheap beer and listening to the UKs best poets (Tim Turnbull, Martin Newall, John Hegley among others) for free, surrounded by wonderful friends.

After that, a quick trip to see Simon Munnery doing Phone Book Live and then himself again with Miles Jupp in the brilliant Johnson and Boswell: Late But Live.

My strangest Fringe experience of the year (so far) took place while poking around the market at Grass Market. A man was selling peculiar and slightly grotesque objects – which might have appealed to Lord Whimsy in a particularly peculiar mood. The salesman beckoned theatrically at a large Aleister Crowley-looking goth who had come up to his table to browse and directed him to the boot of his car.

I overheard him saying to the bald, six-foot goth in floor-length leather jacket, “Come and have a look at this skeleton”.

From the boot of the car a box not much bigger than a shoe box (but not yet a shoe box!) was revealed and presented to the goth in a carefully balanced fashion. The way it was handled by the salesman suggested that the contents must have been highly fragile.

The goth looked at it carefully but unemotionally. I recall specifically that he held his head at a slanted angle akin to a curious emu investigating a hedgehog turd.

Apparently unimpressed, the goth floated away, leathers swishing behind him. I swear I heard a crack of thunder.

The salesman shrugged and put the box away.

I suppose I could have gone and investigated this peculiarity for myself but it was raining and I needed a wee.

But I wonder now what sort of skeleton could have been in the box. A human baby? A small animal? A single skull? I prefer to imagine that it was some sort of carnival grotesquery – a Fiji Mermaid or an Angel or an extra-terrestrial.

Due to my temporary lack of investigative spirit, the readers of this blog will have to remain unsatisfied. Sorry about that. No closure to this anecdote, fatty.

Back in my theatre days (oh yes), we used to play a warm-up game called “What’s in the box?”, devised by yours truly. An empty box was passed around the characters of the play (who had collectively decided beforehand on the imaginary contents); each of them would react in away according to their character and a single onlooker would have to hazard a guess. Of course, it was usually a severed cock.

I motion that we, the livejournal community, play a little game of “what’s in the box?” right now by utilising the limited data of the goth’s expression. We are cheating, I suppose, by having knowledge of the boney truth: the box contained a skeleton. But what kind, you schlub, What kind?

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