I’M only slightly perturbed to find myself in Edinburgh again for a second Fringe event inside two weeks. This is double my fringe activity in a normal year. At this rate I’ll soon be cutting about in red corduroys and a ponytail and bearing books ostentatiously in cream linen carrier bags.

When I worked in Edinburgh for The Scotsman Publications I grew to love this city and its circumspect ways. Edinburgh punters in my limited experience were just as friendly and affectionate as my Glaswegian brethren; they just tended to be a little less gratuitous in dispensing their affections. Not that you’ll find many real Edinburgh punters at the Fringe anyway.

A unique kind of festival comportment is evident in the people who throng Edinburgh’s streets at this time. It’s in the way they walk and how they fix their gaze.

They move slowly and there is a look that might be described as rapt puzzlement. Their eyes seem to be fixed on a point about 45 degrees above your head. Occasionally you find yourself looking up to see what it might be.

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At other times there is a glazed half-smile where they seem to resemble monks who’ve been granted a private, beatific vision. Those not carrying loud purchases from the book festival walk with their hands clasped behind their backs, a bearing which ought only to be the privileged preserve of advancing codgerdom.

The event that’s chivvied me from my lairy west-coast fastness is one of those in-conversation performances where interviewers (usually journalists) spend an hour abasing themselves with noisome obsequiousness before their subjects.

This one though, promises something different and more authentic and I’m not disappointed.

The gifted Scottish painter Alison Watt is talking to Richard Holloway, the author, broadcaster and theologian. The 45-minute-long chat is mercifully free from the cloying unctuousness apparent in so many other of these productions. This is probably because the protagonists are both exceptional in their disciplines. There is no false sycophancy here.

Watt describes her subject as the wisest person she knows and more of a philosopher than a theologian. It’s difficult to disagree with her. Holloway has written 33 books.

At one point he rebukes the egotism implicit in such an output.

“The world doesn’t need 33 books by me,” he says.

The enduring appeal of Holloway, once the episcopal bishop of Edinburgh, lies in a glorious perplexity about the purpose of his existence and the unlovely and crooked path of Christendom. Only with some difficulty does he conceal his contempt for those who claim to be certain about our final destination and their prescribed route-map for getting there.

His doubt is compelling and may be one of the reasons why he largely avoids Twitter, a platform which seems to thrum with self-anointed savants proclaiming certainty and truth.

During their conversation, Holloway bears witness to a remarkable account of sheer human love and compassion. It’s about Canon Albert Laurie, the Rector of Old St Paul’s on Jeffrey Street in the heart of the Old Town. The canon ministered at this wonderful old Episcopal Church from 1898 until his death in 1937.

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At the age of 60 he volunteered for service First World War and tended to dying soldiers in their final moments. On his return to St Paul’s in 1918 he could sometimes be found around midnight in his church calling out the names of the dead boys whose last moments he’d shared and consecrating them with incense.

One famous old Fringe venue seems to have begun specialising in telepathy. The Gilded Balloon has employees that will tell you what you’re thinking just by the way you look.

Last week an employee took to accosting customers who were attending Viva Your Vulva, a show performed by professional female physiotherapist. Spoiler alert! The show focuses on the female anatomy.

Thus he began abusing women who he felt had “terf vibes”. According to one complainer, the Gilded Balloon savant began harassing punters “based on their sex, age and gender presentation”.

Terf means ‘trans exclusionary radical feminist” and is a term of abuse used by transgender activists to target feminists who believe in the scientific truth that while men can change their gender and live as women they will still always be men.

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Furthermore, the employee said that it was “rubbish that women only had vaginas”. Why he himself could “buy one that works”.

There’s a helluva lot going on in this little tale. The Gilded Balloon have opted to move their belligerent mind-reader to another of its venues.

Perhaps in advance of attending a show at a Gilded Balloon venue it might be a good idea to inquire of them what kind of apparel emits “terf vibes”. And maybe ask too if their house vulva-dealer might be on duty that day.