THANK goodness, I won’t be in Edinburgh when – or, hopefully, if – the Festival Fringe returns. I hate the Fringe. Note: “Fringe”.

Nothing against the proper, posh, original festival of culture and art that keeps itself to itself, and doesn’t hassle you in the street with leaflets, shoved in your face by bouncy young persons from the Home Counties.

And they’re ALL Home Counties. Good luck finding a Geordie or Brummie. The only other person I’ve encountered brave enough to mention this was my mate. And he’s from the Home Counties. That’s a side issue, though. If they had an annual festival celebrating the Home Counties in Edinburgh, I’d be fine with that. Nice people, on the whole. The point is there are few local people taking part in the “Edinburgh” Festival.

And yet, according to an Edinburgh bye-law, enjoying the annual jamboree is compulsory. That’s when I get uncomfortable.

The last straw came when, having missed a bus, I thought I’d kill time by watching some open-air acts in the nearby Royal Mile. In the cobbled square outside St Giles’ Cathedral, various stalls were set up, and I was standing amidst these when I found I’d become the centre of attention. You know how I hate that.

On a stage a London “comedian” in a kilt was berating me for the look on my face and the fact that I wasn’t watching his act (though I was about to). To be fair to the scumbag, my face in repose is grim. But what had I done to deserve this? I went home, alone and fizzing.

READ MORE RAB: Sean Connery – best Bond ever

Some years before, I’d been forced by an Embra newspaper to attend an event daily and write something perspicacious aboot it, ken? So I went to see a one-man performance about the Vietnam war.

There were two of us in the audience. The other fellow soon left and, shortly afterwards, the performer discarded his clothes and performed the rest of the show naked. In the darkness, on a hot August day, there were only the three of us: me, the performer and his swinging tadger.

You may think such experiences had embittered only me. But I’m not alone. A growing proletarian movement has taken against the Festival, asking: who benefits?

Community activist and sometime election candidate Bonnie Prince Bob made a YouTube video describing the festival as “a spectacular exercise of lies, hype and profiteering, an annual occupation by ****s for ****s”. He added: “It’s not something done by Edinburgh. It’s something done to Edinburgh.”

READ MORE RAB: Randy robots are taking over the world

Bob bewailed the gentrification of the city centre, now “a gaudy theme park”, with desperately needed rental properties now airbnbs. The formerly “anarchic” Fringe had become a marketing exercise dominated by corporate sponsorship, attended only by acts that can afford the eye-watering performance costs, and the expensively hired public spaces now attracting a Wimbledon-style crowd queuing up at stalls to buy lobster (no kidding).

Well, you can shove your lobster. And your festival. I’m glad I’ll be nowhere near this up-itself, bourgeois fete this year.

All walks of life

I WAS surprised to see Embra’s Arthur’s Seat named by TripAdvisor reviewers as the most beautiful walk in the UK.

If you factored out the crowds, and just considered the natural beauty and views, I suppose there might be a case for it. But the place is always heaving. Despite having various avenues of approach, nearly everybody takes the direct route up.

At one time, I used to go every Sunday, but not up that route to the top. I’d approach from the side and settle for a lesser hill. Whenever I see the top of anything, I always plump for something lower. Loser’s Hill, you might call it.

In that spot, on my hillock far from the madding summit, I’d lie down in the long grass in summer and look up at the blue sky and fluffy clouds. My favourite thing.

Hardly anyone, apart from a few local dog walkers, went there. You could look over and see a solid line of hill climbers, including of course the usual show-offs running up the main drag. (“I wonder where I should go for my run? Somewhere where there are lots of people to see me would be ideal”).

A famous place just up the road from me in the sticks comes in at fifth most famous walk, but I’ve never visited and have no desire to do so. More crowds. Camper vans gridlocked on single-track roads. Madness.

Oddly enough, I’ve been to two other places in the reviewers’ top five: Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim and Ingleton Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales. But I was younger then, and not afraid to leave the house.

My current favourite walk isn’t far from home: a stroll along a deserted beach then a five-minute, thigh-strengthening hike up a forest path – which, when the bluebells are out, is as close as you could get to a facsimile of Heaven.

At the top, there’s a little bench from which I look out over sea and mountains. Then, after five minutes, I decide I’d better get home to see what’s happening on the internet.

Clamp down on the pies

THE chances of my wearing magnetic jaw clamps are small. This is the latest device to help people lose weight – by stopping them opening their mouths.

Well, you get a 2mm space, but not enough to chew solid food. In a surprise development, the device has produced results, with obese persons losing a stone a fortnight.

I’ve bragged before about once losing three stones in as many months, without deliberately trying. Neighbours worried, thinking I was seriously ill, but you yourself don’t notice gradual changes to your coupon. It was only when I dropped trooser waist size that I figured something was going on.

I hadn’t set out to lose weight. I just started having “green smoothies” (liquified fruit and veg) for lunch to gain the minerals and vitamins that oven chips lacked. I was on the wagon, quickly became vegetarian, ignored hunger pangs, and eschewed unhealthy dinners, except once a week when, with a female pal, I’d have a Chinese with chips.

Alas, one day I just got fed up with it all. I went oot for a pie and a pint, and then another pie and a dram, and within a few weeks I was straight back to where I’d started, and having to buy bigger troosers again.

I suppose, if I got a set of these clamps, I could still drink a pint of Gaudiness through a straw, and make a pie sookable with a blender. But I suspect that would be defeating the point.

Adieu, Fidelma

IT’S a sad thought that I will no longer be sharing the right hand of these two print pages with Fidelma (one of those so famed her surname was never needed). She wrote so well and so courageously that it was a great honour to share the space.

There’ll be a Fidelma-shaped vacuum in all your Saturdays from now on, I’m afraid, when the rest of us will just have to try and write something interesting and feisty in her stead. These are not really my things, to be honest – too feart to be controversial, and wishing generally that the world were a duller place.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily rep-resent the views of The Herald.