Edinburgh audio tours from spoken word performers
This article is from 2011.
First thing in the morning, I’m standing on top of Calton Hill looking out to Arthur’s Seat, Princes Street and the Pentlands. It’s a view I never tire of, but on my headphones Jenny Lindsay is giving a different message. ‘Edinburgh, you old tart,’ she’s saying. ‘Your knickers out to dry.’
This is my starting point for (g)Host City, a series of downloadable poems and stories designed to be heard in situ around the capital. Local performance poet Lindsay highlights Edinburgh’s peculiar combination of visual splendour and tourist tat, a place that is both the cradle of the Enlightenment and home, here on the hill, to the pretend hippy religion of Beltane. It is not a vision they give you on the tour buses and is all the better for it.
Neither do the tourists get to hear much about the suicide attempts off the North Bridge, the subject of Lindsay’s second contribution, ‘Jumper on the Bridge’, a wry commentary on a population more concerned with interruptions to the daily commute than the pressures that can lead a 16-year-old to take his own life.
Over in the graveyard of St Cuthbert’s Church, Alan Bissett tells a story of a dope-smoking encounter before a Goldfrapp gig in ‘I Take Bribes’. It’s a tale made all the more credible by the sight of a party of homeless men sitting among the tombstones.
Credibility is not the concern of Momus who enlivens my bus journey through town with a couple of his unreliable bus tours. They claim to focus on the final stops of various routes, but actually focus on the wilder part of the Scottish maverick’s imagination and can be enjoyed at any point in your journey.
Apart from Laura Cameron Lewis’s ‘Quantum Physical’ that requires you to shuffle round the Central Library, the Momus tracks are the only ones I heard that have movement built in. This ‘virtual festival’ is a generally static experience and more than once I found myself leaving the intended site and listening in transit. As the project develops, it’d be good to see a more dynamic response to the city.