A quiet start to the day but it did include opening presents as today was my birthday. We walked along Princes Street in the sunshine which was ironic as the forecast had, of course, been for rain and the incoming texts from home described the torrential rain there. Still we were going to make the most of it.
Our first festival appointment was a lunchtime audience with The Bletchley Girls, four women in their nineties who had been involved in helping to break the Enigma code during the war. For years I have found the Enigma story fascinating reading books and watching films, both fact and fiction, about it but this was an opportunity to hear first hand just what it was like to be working on the effort to crack the code.
Each woman’s story was interesting but what I found most astonishing was their willingness to join the war effort. All joined up early, one at 16 and most voluntarily. And not just to do some job away from the front line either, they wanted to be in the thick of it, driving ambulances in France for example. However, they never really got that opportunity much because they were whisked away to Bletchley or associated outposts.
It was a really interesting way to spend an hour and I sincerely hope I am that sprightly when I am in my nineties!
Late afternoon we were booked in to see John Lloyd of QI fame. Before going in we went to a local coffee place and while there I looked up and saw John Lloyd grabbing a pre-show coffee and muffin. He sat alone at a table unnoticed, it seemed to me, by the rest of the clientèle. This led me to thinking about just who were the others in the cafe? For all I knew everyone there was someone waiting to go onto perform somewhere. There are certainly enough venues and shows for almost everyone you bump into in Edinburgh to be an entertainer. Where do they all stay?
Things like this are a continual conundrum to me. I am fascinated to know how many of these shows make any money. The average entry price is about £10 and while most of the shows we have been to have been, I would say, at 80+% capacity but pretty small. With promotion, venue costs and the like there cannot be any left for the performers, surely?
This sort of postulating was very much the territory for John Lloyd which while it was amusing, it was more intellectual and thought provoking than anything else we have seen. I had seen him do something similar on a TED talk.
After a meal out to celebrate my birthday we had one more event booked, a 10pm Gershwin piano recital, which was something of a departure from what we had done so far.
Tomorrow we fly back but there is time for one more event first thing if we can be bothered to get up in time for it…