Sitting in the Pleasance's theatre programme, 'Years To The Day' is an examination of the nature of friendship in an online age. Two friends come together for a face-to face coffee after years of interacting exclusively via social media, where, as everyone knows, few people really present themselves as they actually are. Can their friendship survive this real life encounter?

Inspired by actual events, this comedy drama explores topics such as marriage, films, politics and gay rights, as well as scrutinising social media. Author Allen Barton, an LA-based writer director, teacher and classical pianist, tells us how it all came about. Click here to read the column.
In a year when politics – and one political debate in particular – is at the top of most agendas in Scotland, the full line-up for Edinburgh's annual Festival Of Politics was announced on Friday, with the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence unsurprisingly a theme running throughout the three-day programme of talks and debates.

Scottish journalists George Kerevan and Alan Cochrane will discuss the various issues around Scottish independence, expanding on their combined book on the topic, in which the former advocated yes to Scotland splitting from the United Kingdom, and the latter set out the case for no. Meanwhile, looking beyond coverage of the independence debate in Scotland and the rest of the UK, Isobel Fraser will chair a panel of international journalists exploring how the referendum campaign is being viewed elsewhere around the globe. And James Naughtie will lead a discussion on what Scotland might look like in six years time with either outcome.

Not every session is entirely referendum focused mind, though sessions on immigration, poverty and Scottish identity may all also touch on what impact a break-away from the UK could have in Scotland. Either way, the Festival Of Politics is set to raise many an interesting topic as it takes over the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood from 15-17 Aug.

Launching this year's programme, the Presiding Officer of Parliament Tricia Marwick MSP told reporters: "When the Festival opens, it will be just over one month to go until the referendum. It is only right that we use the Festival Of Politics to give people the space to gather and discuss the implications of the important decision being made. From oil to currency, Europe to the economy and immigration to poverty, we are offering three days of thought provoking and inspiring sessions within our unique building".

More info at
Another reason to be in Edinburgh at Festival time is all the brilliant talks, walks and other events going on across the city. So even if lectures and debates are more your thing than comedy and plays, there's still something available to suit your palate. ThreeWeeks Co-Editor Caro Moses delivers the facts on her three top talksy tips.

Mary Queen of Scots – The Edinburgh Story (pictured)
It's always a bit of a gamble doing a walking tour in Scotland. But the weather's actually been alright in Edinburgh so far this summer. Well, except at the very moment I'm writing this, when the haar has come down and it's all very damp indeed. But come rain or shine, this walk is worth doing, especially if you, like me, enjoy hearing about historical figures in the settings where they once stood. Especially ones who lived in such turbulent times as Mary Queen Of Scots. The famous monarch spent six years in the Scottish capital at a pivotal time in the country's history, and how better to hear about it than when treading through historic Edinburgh itself?
Outside MacDonald Holyrood Hotel, from 1 Aug until 26 Aug. Tickets here

Carnival Of Curious Animals
Are you one of those people who struggle to resist clicking on links to online filler articles about weird creatures they've found in the depths of the sea? Or about the world's longest-lived animals? Or extraordinary animals that have done amazing things? You know, the online articles composed of a long procession of large pictures and not enough information? Of course, this isn't me we're talking about, but if YOU are one of those people, then I can't help thinking that this might be your kind of Festival event. And there'll be more than just photos here. Learn from scientific journalist Henry Nicholls and Paolo Viscardi of the Horniman Museum about the likes of onesome George the bachelor tortoise. This is only on once, but don't despair if you miss it. I'm sure there'll be other things in the Hendricks' Carnival Of Knowledge line up to tempt the likes of you.
Hendrick's Carnival Of Knowledge, 8 Aug. Tickets here.

Poverty and Life Expectancy at The Festival Of Politics
This event is hosted by Polly Toynbee, and will tackle what is a very current issue, given the presently rising use of food banks in the UK, and the fact that poor diet is obviously and inevitably linked to low life expectancy. And it's an especially important topic for Scotland, as the country's population have a lower life expectancy than elsewhere in Britain. It's just one of the events taking place at this year's debate-packed Festival Of Politics, so don't forget to take a look at what else is on, especially in light of what's coming up in September; I can't help thinking that most of the events will have at least a tinge of referendum about them.
Scottish Parliament, 16 Aug. Tickets here.
© ThreeWeeks is published by UnLimited Media

ThreeWeeks, Fl2 Unicorn House, 221 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6PJ.
t: 0131 516 8842 |