Edin_Thumbnail2(2).jpgAnd so I came out of this late night cabaret – I thought it was lame in some parts, a curate’s leg, and sometimes quite something. A woman had danced wearing a gas-mask and a man sat and cried until the mascara running down his face had blackened his shirt. I guess it was okay but even for me it was pretentious and self-regarding. They’d made a few pot-shots about the popularity of cabaret and the number of ukuleles scattered about the Fringe but I came out and met these Live Art people I met back in Glasgow.

Only they’d been drinking and I was too far behind to catch up and be any fun. I’d interviewed one of them and said something rude about her willingness to lose her self respect and sexual health just to entertain me for half an hour and she said that was okay and laughed. We went down to the Wash on the Mound and hung about until the lights went off and the bouncer smiled because he could go home now. I found a packet of cigarettes and strolled off into the night alone.

The next day and I am trying to catch up on this writing I sometimes claim to be my vocation. It appears I love to watch the shows but sitting down to review then is hard when the office has no daylight and the sun is spectacular. I get restless and sit on the roof and talk to a choreographer. I record our conversation and listen back. I notice the way my questions are longer than her answers and the strange emphasis I give to the words  “sexual” and “in my opinion.” I get distracted from writing it up and wander off to see another production.

This one is all about expatriate Americans and how they all felt so alienated in the !930s. I suppose that is meant to resonate with how we feel today, only we don’t recognise it in that way anymore. It’s all a bit long and at the interval I try to leave only a woman stops me and asks if I am a critic. I’d been watching people drinking on stage and was wondering why I wasn’t doing it myself, but I said yes.

She asked me if I’d seen The Tempest the night before, that Polynesian thing, and told me she didn’t understand it. I was diffident and told her that was okay and she said she had stayed to the end and that it all seemed so slow. I took a deep breathe and replied that the woman standing still had been an angel, watching history and all the events -  the smashing of chalk tablets, the body cut by the half light to a mere torso, the other body covered in oil as if sliding out of the BP slick, the clockwork priests skittering around the stage –  were all the cataclysms of history and the slowness had been to create that sense of timelessness that the angel felt as she watched our history, not as progress but one single disaster that blossomed in space-time, and when the angel screamed it was the scream of God at his beloved’s anguish.

She said thank you. I thought maybe it wasn’t so bad to be a critic. For a moment I remembered what I believed: that the artist was a shaman descending into places where we dared not go, and bringing back messages of hope or despair and the critic was like a priest decoding these messages.  Then I also remembered that I believed I was going to marry a burlesque dancer and make my parents proud and live happily ever after.  My beliefs may not be an accurate guide to reality.