eilidhsd (eilidhsd) wrote in mfu_canteen,

Today's the day...

for a drink and blether with Robert Vaughn, in a free (!) event in Edinburgh right now. And I am not there. I am here at the computer.


But you can download a podcast of the interview afterwards. (pleasance.co.uk)

Yesterday was OK.

voices (2)

We were there sharp, and there were three women ahead of us in the queue (one with an ipad showing that brooding officer from the Bridge at Remagen) The seats are not numbered for Festival events, so we shot straight into the centre at the front when the doors opened.

It was NOT well attended.

There were five modern leather and chrome stools facing us and five chrome lecterns, and when the lights went down, four actors walked on and took their places. (I wasn't worried - they would have taken away the stool if RV had been missing).
There is no stage. The actors faced us and talked directly to us.

It is a cracking piece of drama. I don't know how much our American cousins follow this, but tomorrow we are commemorating (note that word) the centenary of the start of World War One. It affects most of us - of our age group and above - still. Our grandfathers went to those trenches, and returned home alive but damaged.

It is based on the the experiences of those who were involved. Anyway, there was a woman, working in a munitions factory, whose husband had been manipulated into signing up at a night at a music hall; and even in the munitions factory women were dying, or being damaged by the explosive chemicals.

There was a private, a sergeant, and a public-school-educated commanding officer, all talking about their experiences, the excitement of going to war, then events and deaths each more horrifying as they went on. You know it: men drowning in their own lungs with chlorine gas; killing up close with bayonets; and the futility of it all - no quick battle, but three years to advance eight miles of French land, and then the retreat; the private surviving being stuck at the bottom of a trench filling with water, the sides too muddy for him to climb up, pushing the body of a dead German down to stand on, and still the water coming up, and having to wait with the water at his chin until the shelling stopped and he was unexpectedly found by a signaller come to repair the phone line to the trench. (Think that is what my grandfather was doing). Someone lying injured, dying beyond reach, in no-man's land singing 'The Wings of a Dove'.

There was over an hour gone before RV walked on and took his seat. The Americans had arrived in the war! (And there was no clapping or cheering when he walked on. There was not a sound in that auditorium for the whole thing. No-one fidgeted, no-one coughed, no-one sneezed).
The Americans were met by jubilant crowds confident, now, that it would soon be over. But he too had to kill someone up close, and then try to stop his colleague from cold-bloodedly killing a surrendered German. And the lice stopped being so funny when he was burning them (cooking them?) off his own uniform seams in the candle flame .

The officer, who had started off as one of life's natural leaders (he explained!) was the first to leave the stage. He had had to leave an injured man, his legs gone, lying at the side of the road in a retreat; he announced he could not take any more and left.

And RV was next to go, with a cheerful farewell to his new friends.

Altogether, he would be on the stage for about 20 minutes. It is a long way to come for such a short appearance.

But the drama is very powerful, and has been given seven-stars by the Edinburgh Evening News already.

There was no sign of him outside afterwards, and Edinburgh had turned hostile. Our heatwave had ended, it was 14 deg going through, the rain was battering down, and the fog was setting in. I hung around for about ten minutes, did a lap of honour, then stood in the rain in the courtyard and had an ice cream.

I was wearing a full-length dress but with flat sandals, and the bottom six inches of my dress were soaked and tangling round my ankles with every step I took.

Fog at St Giles on the Royal Mile:

So we went to the Museum, to the Ming exhibition, just to get out the rain, then an Italian for an early dinner, and off to the Tattoo. The rain, amazingly stopped for that, and I was snug. I had given into temptation again and bought the cashmere bedsocks on the way up to the castle, and swiped paper towels from the loo to dry my feet and the seat. I had brought only one blanket this year, but I didn't need it. It was very mild.

Back of the castle afterwards: IMAG1171

And I am sorry I am not back this morning to meet RV; nor able to go to the late night gala - we have our own evening procession and memorial service here for the hundreds of young men from this lovely little Scottish town who went away and did not return.

But it was worth seeing; the cast were all excellent, and RV's voice is beautiful.

A good day.

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