New Year’s Day, 2010. I was in the bitter cold of Edinburgh, Scotland, wearing everything I owned to combat the -6 degree cold.
While my friends nursed their Hogmanay hangovers, I emerged that evening as the sun was shyly withdrawing behind the horizon, and made my way along the Royal Mile, past frozen puddles and debris abandoned after the festivities of the night.
I was motivated out of the centrally heated apartment with the promise of the ‘blue man’, a giant yet gentle anthropomorphic puppet, due to walk the Royal mile that night. What I found was what looked like a giant, glowing pea pod, and I waited amongst the other expectant onlookers, waiting to see what would appear.
A solemn man rose up on a cherry picker, until he reached the top of the pod. Suddenly, with a flourish, he pulled the pod away to reveal the blue man, an apparition with long golden hair shimmering in the wind. It was remarkable puppet, pushed by a small truck, and manipulated by a dozen strong puppeteers, straining on ropes like sailors. Yet the blue man himself was wonderfully gentle and smooth in his movements as he walked slowly and carefully along the mile to a haunting soundtrack.
It was such a beautiful and surreal experience, and a truly magnificent feat of puppetry, and an ambiguous signifier to start 2010.