Wee Cherub award today carries all our hopes for the future
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.