Wee Cherub award to­day car­ries all our hopes for the fu­ture

The Herald - Arts - - OPINION - KEITH BRUCE

IREALLY have noth­ing to add to the ex­cel­lent obituary by Brian Pen­dreigh of former Ed­in­burgh coun­cil­lor Moira Knox who died at the age of 85, with the­atri­cal tim­ing, just as the Fringe Fes­ti­val of which she was the self­ap­pointed moral guardian sparked into flam­boy­ant life this year. If there was nu­dity and blas­phemy to be found on the Fringe – and it has rarely been nec­es­sary to em­ploy snif­fer dogs and foren­sic sci­en­tists – Coun­cil­lor Knox would not bother to root it oot, but sim­ply wait for it to be brought to her at­ten­tion and con­demn it un­re­servedly, sight un­seen. So de­pend­ably pub­lic­i­ty­gen­er­at­ing and ticket sales-boost­ing was her out­rage, some sug­gested she must be on a per­cent­age of the box-of­fice.

I have dissed her as a patsy my­self in the dis­tant past, but, my oh my, do we miss her now. Well, up to a point, Lord Cop­per.

Last Sun­day I made my way from my cap­i­tal ac­com­mo­da­tion to the Scot­tish Na­tional Por­trait Gallery for my first taste of the In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val’s ex­cel­lent Song­lines project as cit­i­zenry and tourists took lunch, many of them al fresco din­ing on pedes­tri­anised Ge­orge Street, the boule­vard at the heart of the New Town, where pop-up restau­rants and bars have taken over from the buses and park­ing bays. The sun shone and the spe­cial fes­ti­val fa­cil­i­ties were do­ing good Sab­bath busi­ness. At 121 Ge­orge Street, at the heart of all this, sits the head­quar­ters of The Church of Scot­land, premises it has oc­cu­pied for eter­nity and from where edicts of re­li­gious be­hav­iour are is­sued to the faith­ful. Although osten­si­bly a demo­cratic body, the Kirk is ruled from “121”. And on this day, of course, its heavy, stud­ded wooden doors were firmly closed to the cu­ri­ous. Now, I ap­pre­ci­ate that those who work for the Kirk have other things to do on a Sun­day – it is their busi­est day – but from an evan­ge­lis­ing point of view, Scot­land’s ma­jor Chris­tian in­sti­tu­tion did seem to be miss­ing a trick. At the very least, some pres­ence at 121 to talk to tourists about the work of the Kirk would be good PR.

But then the church does seem to have aban­doned the Fringe, ex­cept to make money as a venue. The Church of Scot­land’s Assem­bly Hall at the top of the mound is a prom­i­nent “Assem­bly Theatre” venue, oth­ers present pro­grammes of cham­ber mu­sic or rent spa­ces to stu­dent theatre groups. The Fes­ti­val of Spir­i­tu­al­ity at St Johns at the West End of Princes Street is notable by its ab­sence this year, although it was one of the churches an­i­mated last Sun­day af­ter­noon by the EIF’s com­mu­nity choir project, which also reached to St Mary’s in Hadding­ton, Ross­lyn Chapel and Dal­meny Kirk. And from moral guardians like Moira Knox, we hear noth­ing any­more, although “Je­sus Christ” has made reg­u­lar ap­pear­ances at Alan Cum­ming’s cabaret and Lucy McCormick’s much-praised knick­er­less re-telling of the Gospel story at Un­der­belly, Triple Threat, would cer­tainly of­fend many of sin­cere faith.

The Her­ald has per­haps com­pounded this lack of ce­les­tial aware­ness by not hav­ing our An­gel awards in 2016, and they have been much missed. How­ever this af­ter­noon, thanks to the EIF’s outreach depart­ment, I shall be pre­sent­ing the sole sur­vivor of our full heav­enly host, the Wee Cherub award, to the best of our Young Crit­ics, as part of a cel­e­bra­tion of young peo­ple’s in­put to the Fes­ti­val at The Hub. Moira may be gone, but I’m hop­ing the awards will be back, be­cause where there’s a Cherub, there is aye hope of An­gels in the fu­ture.

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