1 August 2014

In the Goblin King's Yurt

The sun leaches in through the haar. You blink awake, a gluey aftermath of hops parching your mouth. Your napper throbs. Your eyes look like tormented lychees, your clothes are a rumpled mess. Congratulations! You have passed the first test of the Edinburgh Fringe. But having lurched into the street, and stowed a doughy slab of square sausage in your shifting bilgewater, what's to be done with the tail end of the morning? Gentle mental stimulation seems indicated. Nothing too ferocious, but just enough to get your sluggish synapses crackling with a bit of life.

Ailing lushes of Edinburgh, despair not. Your benevolent compère, David Greig, has anticipated your needs with All Back to Bowie's, which kicks off today and runs until the 24th of August. Of the show's conception, the organisers write:

In response to David Bowie’s famous declaration at the Brit Awards, a group of Scottish artists are setting up camp in Bowie’s (metaphorical) living room for an irreverent lunchtime show exploring the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, and what it might mean for the country to stay with – or leave – the UK. Billed as ‘an hour of gentle thinking and hard daydreaming’, the show – which is in St Andrew’s Square, Edinburgh, from 1-24 August, as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – is a non profit making shot in the dark made by people hungry to bring the ideas, internationalism and insight of the referendum debate to a wider public.

David has assembled a stellar line up of witterers between now and the end of August, in conversations which will cover everything from the gender politics of the referendum (Wham! Bam! Thank you Ma’am!) to the Braveheart myth, Tory Scotland, the future of Scottish foreign policy, England, Ireland, Wales, London - and aptly enough in this Commonwealth Games season, sport.  

They've even pencilled me a few times over the run, beginning tomorrow afternoon (2nd August) on the theme Tactful Cactus – Is There a Scottish Establishment? As attentive readers will have suspected, I was trying to gather my wits on this theme earlier in the week. Cailean Gallagher of the Mair Nor a Roch Wind blog offered this engaging response.

I'll also be back over in the capital next Tuesday (5th) for Bevan Tried To Change The Nation – What Happened To The Idea of Britain? - along with David Torrance, Neal Ascherson, James Robertson and other, intimidatingly talented souls, finishing up in the Goblin King's yurt with Dancing With The Big Boys Negotiations After Yes on the 8th. If you spot me, do halloo. 


All Back To Bowie’s runs from the first to the twenty-fourth of August, at 12.20pm, at Stand in the Square in St Andrew’s Square, Edinburgh. You can book advance tickets here. Bella also have a good deal going for the canny, who like a bargain.


  1. Really enjoyed yesterday in the Yurt. It was good meeting you also briefly at the end.

    There was one issue raised that I had to give some thought about. Mandy Rhodes said that an advisor to Mandelson had come up and said, paraphrasing, that he had seen movements disappear after a failed attempt or in this case a no vote.

    It would be interesting to know when Mandelsons' advisor had seen this. Was it 'Before Internet'? I just can't see the revelation of on-line journalism (of which this blog is a part) which has blossomed in response to a partisan establishment media, completely disappearing should there be a no vote. I certainly could not return to believing or settling for the MSM's offerings again. That Genie is out of the bottle, onto a horse and long gone from the stable.

    I could quite easily envisage a period of depression following a no vote, but I would not predict the voices for Yes staying quiet for too long... certainly not online.


    1. Thanks for coming, Brian.

      On the Mandelson point, I must admit that I wondered about that too.

  2. Recall that there are thousands of people like me - seasoned activists who have campaigned for decades without achieving our goal, but always seeing steady progress towards it. For us a No in September would be disappointing, but we are familiar with disappointment - we shrug and continue.

    There is a difference this time, though. The referendum has mobilised wider and more varied forces than the SNP and Scotland seems settled on a road to democratic reform, win or lose in September. It is even tempting to argue that a No in September, far from causing this movement to disappear, might energise it even further. We've started, so we'll finish.

    1. I agree with you Vronsky, I have been saying that an Independent Scotland is an inevitability for years... it will happen... the only question is when.

      ...and knowing that fact, I am also of the belief that it is better if it is sooner rather than later. I hate dithering... lets just get on with this. :-)

  3. By the way,

    The Scottish Establishment is... advertising for a Scottish Monty Python.