The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
ENO's production of La Boheme is a triumph,
Over the last two years some commentators have noticed the increasing political - left-wing - nature of artistic and cultural work in this country.
But it isn't all-pervading yet, so how do you steer a socialist direction through the melee that is Edinburgh at festival time?
One way is to go to venues that feature likely programmes. One such this year is the Assembly Rooms in George Street, this year directed by Tommy Sheppard, who's himself no stranger to radical ideas. It's a good bet for confused lefties
Here old-school left-Labour ex-parliamentarian Tony Benn will be taking the stage to introduce a forthcoming filmed biography My Will And Testament on August 21 and 22. This has been over a year in the gestation and covers, among many struggles, Benn's involvement in the 1971-2 Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in.
This was a struggle he remembered last year as he took part in the Gala Concert staged to mark the 40th anniversary in Glasgow's Mitchell Theatre.
In addition a number of the other participants in that concert, and the subsequent Celtic Connections concert, are coming back together to mark another working-class anniversary - the centenary of the birth of Woody Guthrie, dustbowl poet and singer, communist and inspirer of many of today's folk singers, most notably Bob Dylan. Arthur Johnstone, Alistair MacDonald, David Anderson and Sheena Wellington lead the line-up paying homage to Guthrie in Songs Of Struggle on August 10 and 11
Other shows that look good at the Assembly Rooms are actor and director David Hayman in Rony Bridges' one-man show Six And A Tanner until August 26 and singer-songwriter James Grant with harmonica legend Fraser Speirs on August 25 and 26. Tickets and full programme from www.arfringe.com.
This year marks the 10th year of the Edinburgh Peoples Festival. Originally, and briefly, created as an alternative to the International Festival in 1951 aimed at the people of Edinburgh, and featuring local Scottish talent, this re-creation stays true to the original aims. And it's free.
Subsisting on virtually no money, it still manages to produce events in the communities of Edinburgh.
Stand-outs are the People's History Walk - a tour round the bits of Auld Reekie that don't make it into the guidebooks - The Hamish Henderson Memorial Lecture by Colin Fox and an interesting Independent Scotland debate. Not forgetting, of course, the final comedy spectacular. Details www.edinburghpeoplesfestival.org/whats-on.
One of the lesser-known festivals in Edinburgh, and one that should appeal at least in theory, to Star readers is the Festival Of Politics. Run by and in the Scottish Parliament, though, it always looks a little on the bland - or perhaps that should be safe - side.
The problems of "balance" can work against creativity at times but who would have thought of running an event on humanising the workplace and not inviting a single workers' representative to speak?
Yet this year's offerings do contain some other potential gems even if big-hitter Gordon Brown - who delivers the first Campbell Christie Lecture - is sold out, as he is at the International Book Festival too.
A debate on Migration In Scotland on August 24 promises a serious look at a sometimes politically exploited topic and the introduction last year of arts and music into the political bubble is followed up by some interesting performances, not least by Mull Historical Society on August 24.
But the one that looks the most likely to spark some interesting chat is the long-overdue discussion of Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham on August 18 with Billy Kay, Jenni Calder and literary editor John C McIntyre. Cunninghame Graham was a founder along with Keir Hardie of the Scottish Labour Party and a founder too of the National Party of Scotland, an SNP forerunner.
He is an intriguing character who deserves in-depth analysis and this event might be a start. Details (most events are free) www.festivalofpolitics.org.uk.
And last but not least, at the International Book Festival ex-Black Panther Nile Rodgers of disco legends Chic recounts his life story to Irvine Welsh on August 19 in Charlotte Square Gardens www.edbookfest.co.uk