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 £2. 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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Move over Lionel Ritchie, it’s Bea Arthur’s Seat now!

Hello you, I’m ba-ack, the moose is in the hoose. All my travel bits have been sorted, cleaned and put away, time to play! And yay, tonight sees the Scat Rats back at Stramash. Oh yeah, I realised some time after I wrote the last post that I hadn’t mentioned seeing the Scat Rats before, how remiss of me. A few weeks ago I popped into Stramash on my way to the cinema as I had some time to kill, some band called the Scat Rats were playing. Well, blow me down, it was Carl Marah and Scott Rough from Logan’s Close! Needless to say, I never made it to the cinema that evening, it was well after nine when the lads finished their second set. Just the two of them on acoustic guitars playing mainly covers and a few of their own. Oo, they played Babe Station, love that song, gonna have to go back and check it out on the Limbic TV gig, has it altered since then?

I’ve been back since Wednesday evening, just before six. I know it was just before six because I made a brew, grabbed some digestives and put the telly on just in time for Richard Osman’s House of Games. What a lovely surprise and long time no see, Andy Hamilton is on it this week (he’s doing rather well). He’s a very clever and very funny man; he’s created, written and directed comedies on radio and tv, he acts, writes novels and is known for appearing on radio and tv game shows. Apparently he still appears on The News Quiz on Radio 4, I don’t bother with it any more, gave up on it a few years years ago. For me, the Simon Hoggart years were the best, when Andy was on it regularly with the likes of Linda Smith, Jeremy Hardy and Alan Coren (them were the days!).

Googling Andy Hamilton, I’ve discovered that he performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in the 1970s going on to being a scriptwriter for tv comedies and radio. He’s been responsible for creating some great comedy – Drop the Dead Donkey in the 90s (essential viewing at the time), Outnumbered (out of the mouths of babies, nuff said), Old Harry’s Game on Radio 4 ( it did tail off in the later series) oh, and the wonderful film What We Did On Our Holiday. Bud and I saw him at the Fringe in 2009, he did one night at the Queen’s Hall, Andy Hamilton’s Hat of Doom. The review in my fringe diary reads “Good, sharp, but not really brilliant like we wanted. ☆☆☆☆”

If Andy wins tonight’s ROHOG he’s won the trophy for the week, he may well still win it if he comes second. I want him to win, he deserves it just for getting the answer Bea Arthur’s Seat in the Answer Smash round. Speaking of the Seat, I must go out and stretch my little legs.

Toodle pip!

Bags, uke, that’s me ready!

Just time for a quick catch up before I head off for a wee while, bags are packed, ukulele by the door so I won’t forget it. Yay, I did get to see Free Guy again! Still great on second watch. I also got to see the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, like wow, WOW!! Jennifer Hudson is sooo good. The film ended at the time when she recorded the live album Amazing Grace, the recording of which was filmed, a film I saw two years ago in the Filmhouse, sweet!

This week I luckily spotted that The Green Knight was on at the Filmhouse, a “last chance to see” Facebook post . It’s a re-telling of Gawain and the Green Knight, in this version Gawain is played by Dev Patel (the reason I wanted to see it, he’s getting better and better as he ages). Sumptuous and kinda arty, lots to enjoy, but I did feel it lacked a bit towards the end.

Stramash have very kindly released a lot of gig dates for October and November, so there’s Jed Potts, the Kennedy’s Project and Willie Dug to look forward to, and yay, the Scat Rats (aka Messrs Marah and Rough) will be back, and, double yay, not until after I’m back in toun. Ah, thinking of the Close, I recently went on a coastal meander and popped by Dunbar, look what I found, yay!

Just a jog away from Dunbar is Belhaven Bay, plenty sand, sea and surf. Oh yeah, the surf was up! A great place just to idle a while, shame I didn’t discover it midsummer, ah well. Beach Boys songs swam around in my head as I strolled across the sand; it struck me that it could well have been the Beach Boys sound that heavily influenced the Scat Rats if they’d spent more time on the beach…..

Toodle pip!

That turned out pretty damn fine!

Last night wasn’t a good Friday night, it was a great Friday night! Oh yeah, I finally got round to seeing Free Guy and I think I may have to go see it again on the big screen before it disappears, I ❤ Ryan Reynolds. There’s a lot that I love about this movie – RR, Jodie Comer, Channing Tatum, Taika Waititi, great choices of music for some of the big scenes (especially the scene using Mama Cass’s Make Your Own Kind of Music), it is sooo visually stunning, a wickedly funny, witty script and, for me, great ideas and layers all delivered with a weirdly gentle innocence and charm.

I didn’t actually know much at all about Free Guy but it’s got Ryan Reynolds in it so that’s enough for me. I had heard stuff but had forgotten the details, like that Jodie Comer is in it. When Molotov Girl first appeared she made me think of Danni Minogue, then when I saw Millie, oh yay, it’s Villanelle, ah, yes, when you need someone who can do accents! The opening sequence with all the “sunglasses guy” stuff was such fun, and Channing Tatum too! Something of the premise came back to me, Free City is an online open-world video game and Guy is a background character who somehow breaks from his programming, game world and real world interactions ensue …. As I’m not a gamer at all I floundered a little, er, NPC? A non-player character? Ah, a background character within the game, yeah, I don’t play these games at all.

So, Guy, a mild-mannered bank teller, living a regular life, doing the same things every day, happens to spot the girl of his dreams – not part of his daily routine, it triggers something and he starts being more than he should be, he does the unexpected, he takes a pair of sunglasses off a bank robber, wow, the sunglasses let him see things he didn’t know were there (bit of an unwitting Matrix blue pill moment there). What Guy doesn’t understand is that the glasses are showing him what a game player sees, with them on the NPC becomes a game player and he moves away more from his programming, which causes Millie and everyone in the real world to think he’s a player/hacker. Guy finds Molotov Girl but she tells him he must level up to above 100 if he wants to speak to her again and shows him how to click the side of the sunglasses to see his level. He doesn’t really understand it but he really wants to see her again, how to level up? Take guns and money, she tells him, but he’s a good guy, and so begins the ascent of Blue Shirt Guy.

No more plot for you, just that Guy helps Molotov Girl in his world to help Millie in the real world fight the bad guy Antwan, played deliciously by Taika Waititi. Guy’s fight to be free to do whatever he wanted made me think of Wreck-It Ralph (another great film imo). There’s plenty in this film that sparks thoughts about other films, oo, a fresh one, remember Chris Hemsworth’s dancing in Ghostbusters and Bad Times At The El Royale? Channing’s moves in this made me think of how good he was in the tap-dancing sequence in Hail, Caesar! We need a film with the two of them in a dance-off – Mr Waititi, if you’re not busy?!

Yes, I need to see it again, there’s also Respect to see this week before it finishes, possibly Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings too. Thursday sees the new Bond film oot, that looked pretty good on the trailer. Oh yeah, I saw a trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage too, really looking forward to that!

You may be thinking that was my Friday night done, oh no, I hoofed it quickly down to Stramash to catch Willie Dug and his band (not the Cosmic Gents as seen at the Voodoo Rooms a couple of weeks ago). This was Willie on guitar and vocals with a drummer and a guy on harmonica, nothing more needed to make sweet sounds! Willie Dug is one magnificent hound, oozing style and charisma, shades of a young Malcolm McDowell, especially when he stripped off his shirt and put on a faux leopard fur jacket that was lying on a barrel just in front of the stage.

The Stramash crowd were really up for dancing, the band delivered and then some. For me the best of the bunch were Come Together (I notice it’s become a popular one to cover since the lockdowns), Roadhouse Blues and the final, one more song, Not Fade Away, ah, a song with many fine memories for me. The minimalness of the band recalled Bluefinger for me, Not Fade Away was a fitting number to head out into the night air on. To paraphrase from Free Guy.….

I may not be real, but for a couple of hours there I felt pretty alive

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. 💛

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!