Today is the last time for the climb in the dark in Edinburgh. NVA’s Speed of Light which is billed as an interactive light show and heralded as ‘state art and spiritual collectivism” . In reality a slow blunder up and down a rocky hill in the dark. Groups of 100 set off together after a bit of health and safety briefing in a large tent called the Parade Ground. We are reminded to empty our bladders and given 10 minutes to do so. Then away into the dark, armed with a torch staff to guide our steps.
“Why are we paying £25 to climb Arthurs Seat?” asked my sister-in-law. “Because we are taking part in an amazing light show”. As the blurb says; ”cast yourself in this year’s most extraordinary performance”. We expected outside lighting of a calibre to knock you down gasping, a Dani Karavan eat your heart out event. The publicity literature shows breathless dances of light and lamps shining on the crags of the ancient landform that is Arthur’s Seat. There is a promise too of special sound effects.
And so we creak up the hill at the pace of the slowest person. We stop and gaze across Salisbury Crags to see mini Action Men running in suits that sparkle in changing colours. Sometimes they slow down and walk. It is an underwhelming sight. We clamber up the hill and admire the superior light show of cars moving round Edinburgh in the dark, lit buildings, Murrayfield under spotlight. And nearing the summit at 251 metres, our staves begin to whine like mosquitoes. This is the sound show.
Back down in the Parade Ground we exchange our staves for a souvenir brochure. Solid only in poor value, 700 people per evening have taken part in the event over the last 24 days. Save Arthur’s Seat for daylight.