Angus McLean: 'The sheer variety and scale that Edinburgh offers has to be unique'
- Brian Donaldson
- 25 June 2021
Avid Fringe-goer and former List magazine street-seller Angus McLean continues our Q&A series about the joys of Edinburgh's festival season
As the countdown moves towards Edinburgh festival season, our collaboration with the Edinburgh International Festival continues as we give you another weekly Q&A interview. Today, we feature Angus McLean, Edinburgh resident and long-time festival-goer who also had the honour of once being a member of The List's street-selling team during August. Here, he tells us about memories of Edinburgh's past, including his beat on The Mound, cycling between venues, and being in an audience of two.
What are your first festival memories of Edinburgh?
My first Edinburgh festival experience would have been in August of 1991. A student at Edinburgh University, I was juggling a number of summer jobs to finance the rent on my flat, my Flip clothing obsession, and vinyl purchases from Avalanche. And, of course, the occasional beer in Old Town watering holes. One such job was selling the Edinburgh festival special edition of The List. This was in the days before multiple free guides – both online and print – so The List was a must-have publication for any dedicated festival-goer.
My pitch was at the foot of The Mound, though my initial foray into the world of sales was fairly unsuccessful. My hit rate was pretty poor (more down to my ineffective sales technique than any question over the quality of the mag!) and I got into a cycle of popping to Oblomov on The Mound each time I had bagged enough sales to stretch to a couple of pints with Phil, my fellow seller. Phil and I did manage to blag a couple of tickets for The List end-of-festival party at the old Traverse Theatre bar in the Grassmarket, so there was certainly an upside to this gig.
What is your all-time favourite memory of Edinburgh during August?
Summer of 2014 when I was 'between jobs'. I made a determined effort to see as many different types of performance in as many diverse venues as I could across all the various festivals. This included being in an audience of two in the basement of a Marchmont bar for a magic show, a variety of free gigs in the Free Fringe, and also discovering new bands via the BBC's free events at Potterrow. I embraced all that Edinburgh had to offer across the myriad of festivals and kept pretty fit by cycling across the city between multiple venues.
If you could curate your own festival line-up for a day, who would you include? Anyone can be on there, dead or alive.
Winter's Bone at the Filmhouse, Reeves and Mortimer at The Stand, Cold War Steve exhibition at The Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art, panel show with Nicholas Parsons at the Pleasance, closing the day with a DJ set by John Peel at The Hub or Leith Theatre. Refreshments over the course of the day at The Pelican and Negociants.
What would you change to improve Edinburgh during August?
There is possibly too much happening in a relatively short space of time. Moving some festivals to other months in the year (like in recent years with the Film Festival) would ease the stress of choosing between events and spread the joy throughout the year.
How does Edinburgh compare to other arts festivals across the world?
The sheer variety and scale of what Edinburgh has on offer has to be unique. Other arts festivals tend to have a central theme but Edinburgh in August has a depth unrivalled anywhere.
Part of The List's My Perfect Festival series, created in collaboration with the Edinburgh International Festival. Read more about other people's festival experiences here.