First blog post

So Hi anyone looking at this. Never done anything like this before but have been musing on doing a fringe blog for, oo, the last four years. So finally I’m taking the plunge! The first fringe show I saw was way back in 1985, The Bald Prima Donna at Buster Browns on Thursday 22nd August for ÂŁ2. That Prima Donna keeps coming back every year, still bald as a coot. So if you fancy a stroll along the byways and alley ways of my Fringe experiences, feel free to drop in.

Like I said, I’m new to this so there’s gonna be plenty mistakes (though at least my typing seems ok for a moose) as I’m not really up with this modern technology stuff. So wish me luck and do check in again!

Bruce

 

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You take your eye off the ball for mere moments…..

Hello, dear reader, did you miss me? I do have a tendency to disappear into other things after the Fringe is done. This year I somehow managed to totally miss that Logan’s Close were playing at the Dunbar Music Festival, headlining no less, at the Battery on the Saturday night. And with a new bassist! Okay, so there was a different drummer too, but they’ve had various drummers in ever since Mick left (drummers round here seem to be real tarts, they don’t commit to one band). I’ve seen clips on Facebook and reckon this bassist is a good fit, and he can sing harmonies too, bonus! Check out the Dunbar Music Festival’s Facebook page to see for yourself, there’s plenty of clips of all the bands through the weekend.

Oo, I’ve just spotted one Willie Dug & The Cosmic Gents were playing on the Saturday afternoon. They’re rather good, I caught them at the Voodoo Rooms last Wednesday; I heard there was a free gig with three bands to celebrate the return of live music, yay. Annoyingly I wasn’t aware that Carl Marah was the first support act – until I wandered in during his final song, dammit. I also didn’t hear that he was the guest with the Handsome House Band at Stramash the previous Sunday until after it happened! Three misses in less than a week – no, I was not a happy bunny or moose.

I’m not the only back in the room, the students are all back in droves. This last week has seen masses of wide-eyed, big suitcased young’uns trying to find the right Students Residence (there are an awful lot these days and not all are well signposted, as the fast food delivery guys will testify). The older returning students have been making up for a lost year by hitting all the night spots hard, the local media have been going on about the long queues. Oh, give them a break, cut them some slack, please. Yes, Covid is still here but we’re gonna have to get on with life some time, as far as I’ve seen they’re all carrying masks ready for donning as necessary and have phones out ready to check into places (yeah, this is still what Beyond Level Zero means in Scotland).

Mind, the locals may have yet another reason to moan about the students – shortages of beer and certain food items made even shorter. The beer isn’t flowing as it should (last week the Voodoo Rooms were without any Joker or Caesar Augustus and Stramash has had a few beers missing) and the hoards of students will drink plenty, I would imagine. A couple of days ago, the Tesco’s up on the Southside was devoid of olive oil, much of their own brand herbs and spice range, the pasta, rice and tinned tomatoes were severely depleted as was the cheaper soft loo roll; that’s definitely students doing a first stock-up.

Sadly, the start of a new academic year has meant that Roy the Barista has left Edinburgh to study in London – no more lattes and cheery banter on the Royal Mile for me! His latte was so fine I didn’t need to add sugar to improve it, a first for me. Some years ago the best coffee was to be had from Ruby in an old police box, this summer it was Roy from an old phone box, where will the next best coffee be served from? An old pillar box?!

G’night! Sweet dreams!

Good night, beautiful lady

I just heard last night that the wonderful Lynn Ruth Miller has passed away. At the grand age of 87 she has left the stage and there’s a new twinkly star in the sky that’ll shine bright every night. Ironically, there was a stand-up recording planned for Radio 4 with the working title of Not Dead Yet; it was to have been recorded in July but was postponed after she had a mild heart attack in June, and then came worse news that she had inoperable oesophageal cancer.

Now this was one feisty lady who just got on with life, never stopped, so I suspect she’d have known something was very wrong but shrugged it off with a “I’m old, things get achy and don’t work so well any more, but ain’t gonna stop me doing what I want!” If she hadn’t been in hospital from the heart attack, would she have stayed still long enough for anyone to have realised she had cancer? I don’t think so.

Lynn Ruth Miller was no ordinary American from Ohio, she took up stand-up comedy at the tender age of 70, having lived a full life she had plenty of material and she used it well, entertaining audiences around the world, especially the UK, where she made a new home. She’d already been playing the Edinburgh Fringe a few years, when I first saw her in 2009 at the Counting House doing a free show called All About Me; that was her afternoon show, classed under Theatre (my Fringe diary entry was “a gentle, odd little show ***1/2”). Lynn Ruth Miller was also performing another free show every night at quarter to midnight, Aging Is Amazing Redux, this one classed under Musicals & Opera, oh, the lady liked to sing – in her own inimitable style, witty, funny parodies, miss a line and you’d miss a laugh. She liked to sing bawdy songs, sometimes directly at younger male audience members, always funny!

John Fleming’s blog So It Goes has many contributions by Lynn Ruth Miller, just prior to writing this I shared his post on the sad news, there’s much more there about this wonderful soul. A search on Facebook will bring up tributes much finer and more eloquent than I could ever be. For me she was the epitome of all things Fringe and an inspiration of living your own life and always seeing the funny.

Lynn Ruth Miller R.I.P. đź’›

R.I.P. author/comic Lynn Ruth Miller… — SO IT GOES – John Fleming’s blog

Regular readers will know of the unique, seemingly indefatigable and gloriously multi-talented US comic Lynn Ruth Miller, an occasional and much-admired contributor to this blog. If not, type her name in this blog’s Search.  Multi-award-winning Lynn Ruth died of cancer yesterday afternoon in London. So it goes. In 2019, she explained that she didn’t plan […]

R.I.P. author/comic Lynn Ruth Miller… — SO IT GOES – John Fleming’s blog

And so ends another Fringe

I’m happy to report that my Fringe did end well, though it did look doubtful for a while that I’d get to see one final show. I went up the Three (Free) Sisters a good twenty minutes early, a few folk were scattered around outside the gate, just a few seemed to be In a definite little queue, ah yes, they wanted to see Darius Davies: Don’t Be Shit but hadn’t got tickets either; I tagged on to them. The guardian at the gate, a woman not to be trifled with, yelled “Anyone with tickets for the next show? Anyone?” about half a dozen stepped forward, damn. Every three of four minutes she’d yell out again and more would realise she was meaning them and so got to enter, mind the queue was still growing all the time.

Ten past nine came and went but we all assumed it must be running late as there was no shout that no-one without a ticket was getting in, and none of us were walking away at this point, just on principle! Yes, just after quarter past nine we started to trickle in, the others in front were all heading to the the bar first but I made straight for the door at the back on the right as instructed. Yikes, there weren’t many seats left but I managed to nab one, which luckily had a shortarse in the seat in front, yay!

The lights dimmed and the star of the show announced himself before running on to the stage to great applause. Five minutes in, as he was telling us how bad Croydon is, I realised I had heard this spiel about Croydon before. Where? Ahha, Joke Thieves at the Counting House. Tonight’s show was apparently a Best Bits of what he’s done so far – apparently so far is over ten years!

It was a great show, very funny though at times not really my cup of tea; nothing bad, just maybe a bit antagonistic for me, hey ho. He is a good storyteller, the suited guy on the bus tale and later recall to it were well executed for maximum effect. A word of warning, trying to leave a Darius Davies show early unseen is impossible, no matter how sneaky you try to be, those piercing eyes will target you and his disapproval will be fierce! Oh, and his final punchline had me laughing most of my way home, nice one.

Good night, sweet dreams!

Please, it’s the last night, don’t be s**t

Like watching a fish flopping around, slowly dying out of the water on a boat’s deck, the last vestiges of the Edinburgh Fringe are a sad, pathetic sight; especially this year, what little there’s been is being dismantled and packed up in double quick time! It’s not even officially over yet! The Scottish Comedy Festival @ The Beehive Inn and Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters seem to be almost the last ones going. I’m going to wander along for Darius Davies:Don’t Be Shit at nine o’clock, if it’s already full, well, so be it. I haven’t been to any shows at the Free (three) Sisters, its not a place I’m keen on to be honest.

After the double delight of shows by Tim Fitzhigham and Rob Kemp yesterday, it may be wise to end my Fringe on those peaks, but I’m going to take a gamble on one more show. An unknown to me, so I checked out a couple of reviews and they seemed sound. Why do I need to Fringe to the bitter end? Why? I think the Fringe committee or whoever’s in charge should look at making the Sunday the final day so that more shows will be ending on it, and maybe some of the early Friday closures would then add on a day or two.

Last night’s show Rob Kemp: The Elvis Dead was a brilliant show to end a Fringe on, and actually, thinking about it, it did go on past midnight so technically I have seen a show on the last day of the Fringe. Oh, he’s good, the show is wickedly funny and creative; basically it’s Evil Dead 2 with the story told through the medium of rewritten Elvis songs, sung as Bruce Campbell doing Elvis; yes, Rob Kemp does look quite like Bruce Campbell (I reckon there’s a likeness to Cillian Murphy too) and has a great voice. A screen at the side of the stage shows parts of the film, a great idea that works in well, especially while Rob turns away to spray more blood on himself!

There’s so many Elvis tunes used that it’s hard to remember them all but probably my favourites are Are You Lonesome Tonight and Suspicious Minds; all the songs are very clever and funny and delivered perfectly. I especially remembered Are you Lonesome Tonight from the first time I saw The Elvis Dead, it’s at the point of the film after the mirror bit when Ash is freaking out and everything in the cabin is laughing, the song becomes Are You Losing Your Mind, pure genius.

So when did I see it previously? Ah, the first preview night of 2018 in the Pleasance Above. He’d won a number of awards for it the previous year, no doubt why the Pleasance snatched him away from the Monkey Barrel. Looking back at my blog post about it, oo, spooky, it’s called A Work In Progress (see the title and topic of my last blog post). I barely mentioned anything other than I’d seen the show and it came second place that evening to Russell Howard; I had intended to say more when I had time, I put “more on this show later”. Okay, so it’s three years and twenty seven days later but hey, better late than never!

Toodle pip!

Just when it looked like the end, the cavalry arrived

Some shows finished up on Friday night, some yesterday, more will end today, just a few will carry on until the bitter end, tomorrow. Of course, the Free Festival actually added on a day to finish tomorrow! I know the Gilded Balloon finishes today, saw it on Facebook. I only went to one show there this year and I’m not sure if the Library Bar, a usual Fringe haunt of mine, was open as I never enquired.

Today, the final Sunday is the first time I’ll set hoof in the Pleasance Courtyard this Fringe! Usually I would have a casual wander through whenever I’m passing. Yes, today is the day Tim Fitzhigham is the Cabaret Bar (in fact it’s some years since I last saw a show in that particular room). Oo, I do hope he’s good, no, surely he won’t disappoint! He mustn’t! At least, I have the magnificent The Elvis Dead at quarter to midnight to end the night, and possibly my Fringe if there’s nothing I fancy tomorrow.

I know The Elvis Dead will be magnificent because one, I’ve seen it before, and two, Rob Kemp is awesome. I just saw his other show at the Monkey Barrel Comedy Club yesterday, Rob Kemp:Agenda (WIP) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Have I explained about WIP before? WIP is short for Work In Progress, ie don’t expect great things, the performer will probably be following their notes, losing their place, saying punchlines first,

《at that point my buzzer went, a fellow Tim Fan had arrived early to go to the show, so being a congenial host I paused in my writing…… so now it’s a few hours later》

Rob Kemp did all of the aforementioned, but, he was so likeable it just added to the charm of the show. It almost felt like a privilege to hear his words, his story was frank, funny and moving. And if you’ve seen Big Trouble In Little China it helps – he references it, oh, two or four times! In fact, just watch it if you can find it anyway, it’s a lot of fun, a very Eighties movie. Agenda was great and it would be good to see it again once he’s honed and polished it, but it’ll never be more honest than when I saw it as a WIP.

On to Tim Fitzhigham, yeah, his show Tim Fitzhigham: Here Now is not even at WIP stage really, more just at pre-planning, not like that would be a problem for this raconteur, anyway. He had his notes beside him and a watch to see how long he could keep going, being Tim he overran a tad but no-one, apart from a few that had a train to catch, minded. Plenty of us were obviously regulars to his shows, one group have been coming over from Portugal for ten years to see him at the Fringe; he had a great anecdote about meeting up with one of them in Portugal. Tim also recognised a chap at the end of the front row who had been his tech guy fifteen years ago, ah, he sucks us all in!

it was like Tim was a manic high from finally being back on an Edinburgh Fringe stage again. He had so much to share with us, his joie de vivre was infectious, there was new stuff and condensed classics, he even finished with his traditional final show party piece! One story we hadn’t heard before was about his Venezuelan adventure – I can’t believe he hasn’t done a whole show about it, he really should, I want to know more!!

Well, time is marching on, I could go have a drink at Stramash before heading to Monkey Barrel 4 for The Elvis Dead. I wonder what sort of music the band will be playing?

Toodle pip!

A fine final Friday

Friday morning I popped round to Mums for brunch – no, not all the way to Yorkshire, to Mums on Forrest Road, I’d noticed they do Eggs Benedict. Their full title is Mums Great Comfort Food, and it surely is. Like Luscious it was a no nonsense, no fancy twiddles, proper Eggs Benedict; perfect poached eggs on plenty of streaky bacon, atop a muffin and generous amounts of hollandaise sauce. It never looks like a big amount on a plate but, by God, it fills me up! I was all set to nip round to a PBH’s Free Fringe show at noon.

The venue was the Natural Food Kafe on Clerk Street, the show Van Gogh Find Yourself. Folk were already sat around various table sketching whilst waiting for the show to start (art materials supplied around the tables). Besides the people in the cafe, there was also an online audience, Vincent had two cameras set up so that he was seen and also the picture he was drawing as he spoke to us about his life. We were also encouraged to draw as we listened but it was very easy to become engrossed in his words and just sit back awhile. We started with a quick sketch each to kinda free ourselves up from our selfconciousness before he properly settled into telling his story. A fascinating and relaxing hour, well somewhere over it actually. It felt like we’d been in the actual presence of Van Gogh, I’m so, so glad I went – what did I create? See below.

As it was a gorgeous warm day I wandered up into the Park and dozed a bit. There were a couple of free shows that I could have made it to, but once I was settled in a wee sun spot I really couldn’t be bothered moving! Finally my tummy was rumbling so I headed to a large slice of lasagne for tea (made with hoggat mince from Annanwater at the Farmer’s Market, it works really well).

Last night I toddled back to Stramash to see a band called Moanin Bones, they were rather good, a rocky set and a tight sound. The crowd were well up for it, especially a large bunch of squawking hens; two rather drunk guys were highly entertaining, it looked like there could be murder on the dancefloor at one point. Had something previously happened before I arrived on the sidelines, or was it an ex who’d just come in with her friends? Whatever, the tension was palpable, eyes were throwing daggers at machine gun speed, thankfully (I think?!) he did the gracious thing and left, dignity drunken but not dented. People watching can be such a fun sport!

Mum’s Egg Benedict
Self portrait, Moose in the Park, well, I had to put a seat in there, come on!

As nightmares go, it was rather a fine one!

Yay! I finally made it in to see David Alnwick’s Nightmare Magic, it’s rather good. This show is as much about the storyline as the magic tricks, they’re all a part of the story as it unfolds. Towards the end I did lose the thread a bit, but there’s a good chance that was part of his plan to bamboozle us and wrest rational thoughts from our minds; it worked if it was! David Alnwick is a good storyteller with a quiet confidence in his tone, can I coin his talent as “sleight of voice”? He would ratchet up the tension and diffuse It effortlessly. And the ending was delivered as a throwaway, just brilliant!

I’ve noticed there’s a fair number of magic acts this year, maybe there’s always be this many but they’re more noticeable as there’s so much less of everything else. There’s certainly a demand, David is now doing Nightmare Magic twice a night now until the 29th.I have seen another production involving young actors at a theSpace venue, but as it suffers like other younger shows I’m not going to bother naming and shaming it.

Is it the effects of the last eighteen months that the younger contingent of the Fringe haven’t impressed me; or, in a normal Fringe year with much more choice would my fringedar have automatically picked better shows? Who can say? But bravo to all those who have come and given it a shot this year. I hope they get a chance to come back another year. Mind, I would be happy if the Fringe didn’t go back to how it was in 2019, way too big. There’s big and then there’s just too much! From selling out almost every show this year, the newbies could be sadly disillusioned by numbers from a return to 2019 levels in a second year here.

This is an odd year – as I keep mentioning! I went out late last night because The Kennedy’s Project were playing at Stramash again, this time after midnight. I went for a stroll about to revive myself (I could have easily just gone to bed), it looked like the Pleasance Courtyard were closing up, no throngs of people around the Teviot area, of course no Potterrow this year, just a few still sitting out in the Underbelly garden in Bristo Square. The Cowgate is sooo quiet compared previous Augusts. Stramash was fairly quiet too but it sure picked up when the band came on. Different lead guitarist this time, he didn’t do any singing so it all fell on the other guy. Another great night, the crowd loved them, I suspect they’ll now be regulars there. My, it’s been a while since I last got in at almost three in the morning!

I shall leave you with an Eggs Benedict update. I was going to go to Em’s Kitchen but there was a queue waiting to go in! Er, no, so I went up on the Royal Mile, left or right? I knew everything on offer left so I turned right and headed down the hill. Not far down on the left-hand side there’s a cafe called Luscious, some how it’s never caught my attention before, I crossed over to check out the menu, oh yay! Went in, no menu perusing necessary, thanks, Eggs Benedict and a latte, please. And here it is, pure and simple, just an slice of tomato with it. Perfection on a plate and in my tummy đź’›

A win by a gnat’s crotchet

Remember how I thought Luke Rollason was my top show of this this year’s Fringe? Well, he’s not, only by the smidgiest of smidgens, mind, but Christian Brighty’s Playboy stole my heart. I reckoned it would be close, but that Luke’s show would tickle my funny bone more, it turns out Christian’s joie de vivre won through (call me odd, but I find Luke has a Moomin-like quality, there’s a strange underlying little sadness there). Seeing the three separately (Tom Curzon was in Extreme Nonsense) really did show their own directions and styles and how much they compliment each other.

Christian Brighty:Playboy was obviously going to be fun from the toy bows and arrows on many audience seats and softplay balls under others. Luke was there to lend a hand enticing folk to sit in the front rows and be an angry father just offstage. Our Playboy was a dandy and charming cad about town, even when calling us all munters. Enter Cupid with an arsenal of arrows, cue audience participation, half the front row were being offered undying love!

The show was a great romp! Good plot, clever and witty lines, a very fine performance by Christian and some brilliantly inventive ideas (scenes with the Duchess and Susan were so so funny) helped things along. This is an achingly funny show and while it’s very saucy, it has a sense of innocent, mischievous fun, all in the best possible taste! The particular performance that I saw did have the added pleasure of the front row audience members who really embraced on their guardians of the key roles. Hopefully this isn’t the last of this show, many more people need to see this!

In other news, there was a fire this morning at George IV Bridge, according to the BBC News website it is believed to have started in the Patisserie Valerie cafe. The Bridge, Candlemaker Row and part of Chambers Street were closed off and could remain so for quite a while. It had looked from a distance that it was Frankenstein’s as that’s next door, the other side has the now world-famous Elephant House cafe. Flats above the cafe were evacuated, apparently one person was taken to hospital, let’s hope they’re okay.

I’m off to Porty now, it’s a gloriously hot day out there, definitely time to just snooze on the beach awhile!

(BTW, I’ve put pictures of George IV Bridge on Facebook, check them out, Bruce T Moose)

A Fringe beyond zero

Alas, I didn’t get to see The Flop: A Band of Idiots last night and it was their last night, unless, like many things in this fluctuating Fringe, they decide to do more shows (pretty please?!) Nah, it’s unlikely, at least I have the third Private to see today, Christian Brighty: Playboy. Its like a minibusload of absurdists came up for a week and now they’re all packed ready to head back south just as soon as Christian has taken his bow and said his thank yous. Him and his stuff will be bundled into the bus and with ringmaster, Dan Lees at the wheel, they’ll be gone. Imagine if the outside of the minibus reflected the minds of those inside?!

I had been intending to head to Stramash after the show, wow, drinking and dancing in a no doubt busy room, a blast from the past. How would Stramash be now? Well, it was weird going to the bar, rather than six deep around it, there were two queues stretching across the room. To folk entering it wasn’t immediately obvious so they’d head straight to the open space at the bar, then they’d kinda look round at us, it would click that we were stood in a line, “Er, is this a queue for the bar?”,”Yup!” and they’d head the other way to find the back of it. God, it was interminably slow. Now Stramash has an upstairs balcony area that I’ve rarely been in, I was pretty certain there was a bar up there but not 100% certain, striking up a conversation with a chap alongside me in the other queue I ascertained yes, there was a bar upstairs but the queue was even worse up there, that’s why he was queuing where he was. Considering how quickly my drink (a pint of Holyrood Pale Ale, very nice) was bought and paid for, I don’t understand why it took around twenty minutes to get it! It looks like Stramash has gone cashless, everyone was paying by contactless or their phones, so no fumbling around for cash and change.

It was busy but the doormen were making sure everyone was using the CheckIn Scotland app on entry. I guess its become another habit for some, click in and mask up. I did notice a few folk keeping their masks on awhile once inside, like they couldn’t really believe it was okay to remove them. It is a bit confusing, different places have different rules, many folk I think keep masks on until they’re pretty its ok to remove them. Some Fringe venues are fine with unmasking during performances, well, if there’s a bar many will have brought a drink in. Some venues do make an announcement asking that folk stay masked (half then have to put their masks back on), yes, it’s confusing.

Assembly Roxy has attendants at the door to enquire the size of your bubble and then lead people to appropriate seating. Similar was done at Monkey Barrel Comedy Club; they also have a temperature scanner there (only one I’ve seen so far) and they administer a squish of hand sanitiser to everyone who enters. Many venues certainly started the Fringe with seating spread out in groups of twos and fours, I wonder if some have made the spaces between smaller now to accommodate more seats; certainly some venues now have the usual rows of seats. Some folk do look uncomfortable when strangers sit right next to them, but as the In Person shows are selling out a fair bit, it happens, are they thinking “would it look insulting if I put my mask back on?”?

So, back at Stramash, pint in hand I found a good spot to watch the band come on for the second spot, a band called The Kennedy’s Project. I almost spilled my drink – it was the band from Waverley Bridge! It was great to see them indoors in a proper venue and, my, they were good, really good. As usual both the rhythm and lead guitarists shared out the vocal duties, as their voices suit very different songs it works well across the songs they cover. The crowd (and me too) loved them, plenty were on their feet dancing. Highlights for me were Hound Dog, Bring it on Home To Me and, as awesome as the last time, Minnie the Moocher. My, that guitarist was hot, growling out the words, hotter than Idris Elba even!

đź’›

If you just stumbled accidently upon this blog post and have enjoyed it, I always post a link on Facebook, I’m Bruce T Moose. New friends and followers always welcome (and no, the T isn’t for The).