Cogan’s travels: Festival Time in Edinburgh
She moves somewhat after the fashion of a heron, with that slow, hesitant, leggy way they have. Yet, the way she moved reminded me of a mantis; the staccato jerks, the looking to left and right. The head also was more insect-like than bird. One could tell she was female though the clothing was male: a dark suit with a stark, white shirt. The problem was her head! What you could see was a covering, a mask of some sort but this had started life as a welder’s helmet. Two holes had been cut where the tempered coloured glass would have been.
Outside St Giles’ cathedral, a man with shaved legs, very provocative high heels and a tight, green dress posed for a selfie with one of Police Scotland’s finest. The shaved legs and the figure-hugging dress were one thing but the low-cut top which exposed a mass of curly, ginger hair and the flamboyant ginger beard could not conceal the gender of the dress’ occupier. To top this assemblage the tautness of the dress was unable to restrain the model’s masculinity. Ah, but a second look, a closer examination and I begin to wonder. Looking at the face, where the beard is, there is a line. I am beginning to wonder if this is not a man dressed as a woman but a woman pretending to be a man dressed as a woman, even down to the frontal bulge and hairy chest? Yes, well!
All this can mean only one thing: I was in Edinburgh in the merry month of August! It’s Festival Time!
The date is the first Saturday in August; the venue is a seat at one end of the temporary stands erected in the Outer Bailey of Edinburgh Castle. We are opposite the redoubtable solidity of the Castle, already alight with braziers. People shuffle their way into seats, cover themselves against the freshening breeze and occasionally look skywards in the expectation of rain. To my right, the couple has bought Edinburgh Tattoo ponchos which balloon and rustle with every movement.
The Tattoo is something that Angela, my wife, is keen to see. She loves military bands and says it brings back good memories from her childhood. The absence of the naval gun teams is a disappointment but the New Zealand Army Band is good compensation. My thoughts on the performance of the American European Theatre of Operations singers and band seems little different from what they were producing back in 1943; the only difference being that this time they were de-segregated! It was a colourful display of excellent music; pleasing in that the Royal Jordanian Army band and display team were precise and sharp, with women musicians. Now, that is integration! Pity one of the white horses chose to “do its own thing!” throughout.
Busy, Busy! Sunday was a day for marveling at how many fliers we could collect in a short space of the Royal Mile. I lost count, but found hiding behind the camera a useful way of avoiding too many. Having my couple of Fuji X-E1s, one with the Mamiya medium format 120mm lens attached and the other with an elderly Leica 35mm lens did mean I received many a funny look. The proliferation of Canon and Nikon top gear rendered me somewhat odd! What else is new?
Finally, Monday was Panda day! Off to the Zoo for the day. First of all, Pandas do not behave as you want them to. Yes, the otters were superb and the red-hog dug with all his might into the mud; several Barbary Apes became active once the day wore on and a Lemur tried enticing a little girl to share food with him. The Sun Bears play fought and rolled around a mere five feet from where we stood; even the Pygmy Hippos staggered from their beds and mud-wallowed a few feet away. But of the Pandas we see hardly anything! The female showed us a leg, and the male looked out once, for two seconds! Not even a fresh stock of bamboo could entice them from their cozy beds. Still, with all the noisy, badly behaved children running around I don’t blame them. I’m sure we never behaved like that when we were young?
John Cogan ARPS