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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He acted with Will Hay, you know!

Oh hello there! I’ve just been watching six scene snippets from the theatrical play Oh Hello on Facebook; back in April Facebook suggested I might like it, being theatrical and all. Oh ‘ello, thinks I, this rings a bell. Hmmm, a one man play about Charles Hawtrey, ah yes, indeed, on watching the first little scene it took me right back to God knows when. When, when? So I spent bloody ages skimming over my old Fringe calendars – nothing! I started them proper in 2004 so it must have been seriously ages ago, I had to delve into my box of tickets (thankfully kept in ticket holder envelope thingies each year) an age of reminiscences later….. Tuesday 6th August 2002 at 20:30 in Venue 13.

Ah Venue 13, I have a soft spot for Venue 13, not really sure why. It’s an obscure little venue in Lochend Close down off the Canongate (that’s the bottom part of the Royal Mile). I couldn’t tell you what it is the other eleven months of the year, maybe a social centre. It is a bit off the usual beaten tracks but Venue 13 has done me well over the years, certainly nothing awful springs to mind but a number of gems do. Each year I wonder if it will be swallowed up into one of the big companies, but it’s stayed independent and long may it remain so! Oh, and it’s also very close to the Kilderkin, a great real ale pub on the Canongate.

Oh Hello was written by Dave Ainsworth, who I think was performing it too (I know that he did perform it elsewhere around that time). Why did Bud and I pick it? See, Charles Hawtrey was part of our youth, our culture, a favourite in the old Carry On films, one of those wonderful comedy actors who make it look so easy. He had an air of bewildered but twinkly charm, which could have been from all the alcohol it turns out.

Watching the clips from this new production it felt like I’d seen it just last year, the writing is so sharp and memorable; and, as when I saw it, the performance really captures the essence of the man. Charles is played by Jamie Rees here, his Charles Hawtrey impersonating Kenneth Williams – brilliant! The last clip flips from ominous humour to pathos, I was left with a lump in my throat just like the first time.

I think it was meant to be at the Fringe this year (another logarithmic reason for Facebook to suggest it to me), so that’s not happening. The plan is for it to be up next year, do hope so, I’m quite a fan!

Toodle pip!

 

2020, ironically the year Eurovision wasn’t

Eurovision may have been cancelled this year but you’d hardly know it from today’s radio and telly in the UK. As I tap this out Nicole is on telly singing A Little Peace (Ein bißchen Frieden) – only the umpteenth time I’ve heard it today! Not that I mind, by halfway through I’ll be singing along again.

This evening I’m indulging myself with prosecco and pear juice, they do go together rather well (and if the prosecco is too dry, pear juice is a good antidote). Well, I deserved a treat after all the tidying round and cleaning I did today. Just because I had no one coming round this year didn’t mean I was gonna let standards slip, ok, so they’re not that high anyway but I always have a massive clean round before Eurovision. Right from Graham Norton’s Radio 2 show this morning I’ve been cleaning, singing and dancing, sometimes all at the same time!

Ah, Graham Norton, a worthy successor to Terry Wogan. So it wasn’t officially a competition but I still raised my glass to Sir Tel at the ninth snippet, Sweden’s song, I believe. Why the ninth? Well, when handing over the baton to Graham, Sir Tel advised young Graham to pace himself by not having his first drink of the evening until the ninth song. So, now every year at the ninth, Graham raises a toast to Sir Tel, it’s quite poignant actually. This evening I thought Graham was very sweet and eloquent when the hosts spoke to him, I heartily agreed with him about how great the show was going, an impressive production in these extraordinary circumstances.

Eurovision is feelgood tv (even during the voting) and especially this year with the personal messages from each performer after their song snippet. I’d like to think folk feel a stronger camaraderie with their fellow Europeans after sharing all this music; a celebration of musical differences and similarities, an insight into nations’ souls. The mass love-in of all the performers singing Love Shine A Light was great touch in this time of musicians putting out stuff from their own spaces (often bedrooms, I’ve noticed!)

Mind, we in the UK often wonder why we can’t send a decent song that reflects us now, our songs do tend to be on the naff, dated side. Do other nations feel the same about their entries? Do the Finns, Moldovans or Germans consider their songs reflect them well? My recipe for UK success is Jack Savoretti; my eurika moment came the first time I heard Candlelight, a perfect Eurovision song and a voice to penetrate the hardest of hearts. I’m sure he probably has something that would be perfect – and not written to be a Eurovision song, important methinks.

Tonight we only heard short blasts of each song (blasts almost literally in some cases) so we missed out on costume changes, key changes, great powerful endings from soft beginnings, all staples of Eurovision and it’s associated drinking games. But, going on just the snippets I observed I liked France, Belgium, North Macedonia, Austria and Armenia, with additional mentions for the Italian guy’s voice and the Finnish lad’s blue jacket. Who knows what might have been?!

Tomorrow I intend to look for the ukulele chords for Alexander Rybak’s Fairytale, I rather like it hearing it again today, possibly playable. Today’s find was Boom Bang-a-Bang by Lulu, a couple of tricky chords but I might be able by next May!

Good night, peeps! Stay safe!

Moon stalking – tricky under Scottish skies!

Today’s outdoor exercise was hunting down the Flower Moon, more like the Shrinking Violet Moon. The city sky was almost clear but the East Lothian skies were full of clouds for the moon to stay hidden behind. She hopped from one cloud to another, it’s not often I go out of an evening just to watch the moon, try it, she moves faster than a watched kettle boils! I know, who’d’ve thunk it! I calculated it would probably be around midnight before she reached clear sky, no chance, I wanted to be home way before then.

Why,  I even forewent watching Antony & Cleopatra from National Theatre Live tonight to go moon hunting. I’ll watch it at the weekend (mind, as time goes by, who, like me, wonders like a certain magnificent Dowager Countess “what is a weekend?”). I have never seen Antony & Cleopatra but should like to as I studied it at A-level, will any of it come back to me?!

Last night I had the great delight of more spooky tales from Will Seaward! Usually I have to wait ’til August to get my fix of silly spookiness, Wednesday evening was my third dose this year already!! Yes, three times already and its only May! Jam With Humans are doing a lot of stuff online including co-hosting Will Seaward’s Spooky Ghost Stories, with the Jam With Humans supplying very atmospheric musical accompaniment. This week’s terrifying tales were about a spooky castle, and then one set in the Wild West; both thoroughly enjoyed along with a rather nice bottle of Sicilian red wine and a large plate of spag bol!

I would continue but I’ve just noticed it’s way past bedtime. I’ll never stay young and pretty without my beauty sleep. I shall leave you with my earlier game of hide and seek with the moon….

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She’s there somewhere, I think?!

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Oo, a cheeky peek-a-boo!

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After all that I was expecting something more spectacular – like with bells on!!

 

Fluffy bunnies, fluffy bunnies!

Fluffy bunnies! Why? Err, a friend in school said it to me many years, told me it was the first thing you should say to anyone on the 1st May. Who was I to argue? I just googled it to see if it really is a thing and apparently some say “white rabbits” at the start of March, while others say it at the start of every month. Hmmm, a tenuous similarity. Does anyone else say fluffy bunnies on 1st May?

I had thought I would trot up Arthur’s Seat early doors to wash my face in the morning dew on May Day – tis said this will keep one young and fresh-faced! Yeah, right! As every other year I’ve battered my alarm off and gone back to sleep. Besides, there is social distancing to be adhered to, supposing hordes had descended on the same hill? That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Goodness, time is marching on and I’m yet to my own marching for the day. I shall leave you with some pics I’ve taken out and about recently.

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Duddingston Loch.

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A pheasant in Holyrood Park enjoying the view over Portobello and the Forth.

 

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Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile in the foreground, part of the high rises of Dumbiedykes visible behind, all dwarfed by the Salisbury Crags in Holyrood Park, with Arthur’s Seat peeking over at the back.

 

 

….meanwhile in lockdown

Kia ora, dudes! Day Whatever of lockdown. Today I’ve come to a decision to be more impetuous! Yeah, I know you all see me as a carefree, live for the moment kinda moose, but not really. I may not post that often but that’s because I put it off to do other stuff (like faffing, watching telly, surfing YouTube and occasionally some cleaning). My table is covered in bits of notes for blogging ideas that I haven’t got round to writing; when something grabs me I don’t rush to share it, my head goes, No, take a note, think about it, write it up later. Needless to say, impetus lost, I don’t. Listen Head, shut up, if ever there was a time for some impetuosity it’s now. There’s nothing that needs to be done that can’t wait. That picture taken on a walk? Share it! Great vids on YouTube, resurfaced memories, Fringe friends up to stuff? Don’t write a note, write a blog post!

A few notes lying around – Jäähyväiset! (I think that’s farewell in Finish), a voodoo octopus, lamb with anchovies – dauphinoise potatoes, The Trap Pleasance Over the Road 2, Jam With Humans, Will Hay, zombiesaur. Guess the ones relating to Will Seaward! I’ll get back to those later 😂😂 See? Did it again.

Today a Facebook friend shared an episode from 60 Second Docs by an artist Mike Bennett from Portland, Oregon who makes great pieces of cartoon art from recycled wood and paints then sets them free into the wild! Well, he puts them out for people to enjoy and raise spirits. He’s raised money for local charities with his artwork, a really nice guy. The artwork is quite Seussical, not in style but in flavour, mischievousness and joie de vivre. Check it out!

Another share (obviously up rather earlier than me) was a brilliant video by Tusk Puppets for the New Zealand Police Facebook page. Hmmm, the NZ Police page has good stuff, some great kiwi humour on there to brighten up lockdown. And bubbles! I haven’t heard mention of bubbles here in the UK, I love the concept, bubbles, it’s a cheery word, not all doom and gloom. Yes, I feel more content now, visualising my bubble around me, gonna float along next time I’m oot. Anyway, Tusk Puppets have written and performed a great little number called “One day I’ll go outside again”, it quite rocks out towards the end!

From there I wandered through the New Zealand Police and Tusk Puppets Facebook pages (my tablet sneakily changes Tusk into Rusk, it just tried to do it that time too😄) where I found a video of a lovely lady tap-dancing with a puppet from Tusk, oh my, impressive! (makes me wish I’d kept up my own tap-dancing from my youth).

Whilst I’ve been tapping away, my friend has also shared a vid by the lovely Carl Marah of Logan’s Close. He’s singing a Bob Dylan cover to his washing machine, I think he may be taking lockdown hard!

Well, I suppose I should head out for my daily trot around the park. It’s great how many people are there everyday now and not just at the weekend, yes, there are quite a few folk out but everyone seems to be generally adhering to social distancing rules. Guess we’ve all been appreciative of the lovely sunny weather we’ve been having recently (yes, that’s right, lovely sunny weather in Edinburgh, Scotland) and that we have an awesome piece of rugged parkland close by the Southside.

I shall leave with another artwork of Edinburgh in smithereens by Pete Standen. Oh, and I’ll stick a piece of graffiti I came across on a walk last week (yes, something I’ve sat on to use later), look twice, there’s something really quite sweet there!

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If the audience can’t go to the theatre…..

Ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs, meine damen und herren, naiset ja herrat. Hi peeps! I was just flicking through the tv channels – can you guess what film almost sucked me in? It was tough but I managed to switch it off.

Earlier this evening I did watch Twelfth Night on YouTube from National Theatre Live. Most excellent! I saw it when it was shown in cinemas and was delighted that it’s been included in their lockdown #NationalTheatreAtHome run. This is a brilliant production but particularly outstanding for me were Tamara Lawrance as Viola and Tamsin Greig as Malvolia (yes, that’s right, they’ve made Malvolio a woman!). I’ve loved Tamsin Greig since Black Books, she was a big part of why I saw Twelfth Night in the cinema, and by god, she was magnificent.

There’s seven days to catch Twelfth Night on YouTube until Thursday 30th April when another NTLive production is shown. And what a treat next week! Not just one but two!! Well, the same play with the leads alternating, that’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller as Frankenstein and his creature. I was lucky enough to catch both versions at the cinema and will no doubt see both again over the course of the week.

There’s certainly some great theatre and music to be had on the internet to keep us going in these troubled times. I’ve recently been delighted to watch scenes from Oh Hello, a one man show about Charles Hawtrey, on their Facebook page; and how delighted was I to hear a spooky poem featuring Clarence and Louloulou the other evening? Very, very, indeed. More about those later.

Oh, and I have acquired Spotify on my phone (for my daily walks) and am enjoying playlists from the lads at Logan’s Close, so many bands I’ve never heard before, but in the main really good.

Sweet dreams!

 

Saturday night at Chez Brucie

And it’s another late night for yours truly. I did spend plenty of the evening in the kitchen with Elvis making meat sauce for a lasagne (tea tomorrow). Yes, Elvis, well, a compilation cd I made a few years ago from records I’d put on my computer. Probably not the songs you may be thinking of like Blue Suede Shoes or In The Ghetto; no, my siblings and I loved watching his films on the telly, those were the songs we wanted, from the likes of Blue Hawaii, Kissing Cousins, Viva Las Vegas.

Easter weekend, it seemed right to reminisce, sing along and have a wee dance. It’s easy to forget how amazing Elvis’ voice was, man, he was gooood! But hey, all the words came flooding back, from I Got Lucky at the start right to Tender Feelings at the end, via two big big favourites of mine Someone To Lean On and Beach Boy Blues. Honestly I was doing some cooking too, a good ragu sauce does take time you know, lots of chopping up to do.

By the time the music and sauce were done it was late and I hadn’t actually had any tea (possibly the two white chocolate cookies I’d had earlier might have kibboshed my appetite). Hmm, what to have? A small bowl of sauce with added cream and quickly rustled up very garlicky bread, washed down with a bottle of Peroni.

Nice, J.J.Abrams’ Star Trek was on the telly, nearly halfway through but I know it well enough. It’s a great movie, how scared were we that it wouldn’t work before it came out?! Rather, but Chris Pine and all were brilliant, Pine especially was perfect as Kirk and Karl Urban as McCoy, uncanny at times. The only blot on the copy book was Simon Pegg as Scotty; he was fine enough but it seemed rather hammed up for me.

That’s my glass empty, time for bed.

Ciao, dudes.

And I thought 2020 was going to be an auspicious year!!

It’s official, August in Edinburgh is cancelled. No art, no books, no classics or comedy, not even the cavalry! The Military Tattoo, the International, Book and Art Festivals along with the Fringe are now cancelled for 2020 in light of the COVID-19 situation; it ain’t going away anytime soon. Even afterwards life could take some time to get back to normal, and that’s those who haven’t lost their loved ones, their jobs, their businesses.

As I’ve taken my daily exercise I’ve been pondering which little local businesses will go under as a result of being shut so long. Oh, the government may say there’ll be help but I’m sceptical it’ll be anything like enough. As if Brexit and the ongoing negotiations with the EU weren’t bad enough, COVID-19 came along and really stuck the boot into 2020.

Wherever you are, I hope you and yours are well, and please, remember the words of George Michael – you gotta gave faith. And if you can do just one kindness, give someone a smile (today I remembered reading a poem years ago about an infectious smile and how we should pass it on), it might just be what they need.

I’ll leave you with another Pete Standen; the Scott Monument, instantly recognisable even if it is surrounded by devastation.

Goodnight, and may your God go with you.

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The end of the world as we know it??

These are strange times we are living in. I think I would much less surprised if our local extinct volcano came back to life now than I would have been a few months ago. This coronavirus thing is bad, I’ve seen less scary zombie films; and like in zombie films there’s the dumbass “cool” guys, all showing off flexing their muscles, reckoning they’re somehow immune to the dangers. Newsflash: You’re Not!!

Being a moose, I, like cats and dogs, can’t get Covid-19, but just to be on the safe side no more hugging until we can ALL hug together again. I did see a worrying post on Facebook the other day, it asked folk not to abandon their pets as they can’t spread coronavirus. What?! Please people, do not abandon your pets, it’s times like this the affection and solace of a animal companion is to be cherished. In a way I can understand the consuming, confusing fears some owners will feel; but I also know that some folk are callous, heartless bastards. Sad but true.

I’m almost surprised there’s been no apocalyptical, doomsday cults popping up out of the woodwork. Or is this just too real and immediate a situation for them to create fantasies from?

If you’re wondering about the picture, it’s by Peter Standen, originally from Surrey but he’s lived in Edinburgh for ages . For some years now he has been at the West End Craft Fair during the Fringe, showings his etchings and postcards. I bought this one just last year (I have three others bought in previous years along the same destruction of Edinburgh vein). When I saw it I actually initially laughed with delight; from when I first learnt that Edinburgh was situated on an old volcano (as in the picture, Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat are two of it’s vents) there’s been a scary, fantastical What If? in my head and here it was in front of me. No, it’s not framed yet. I’m happy to wait for the perfect frame, I just haven’t seen it yet. No worries.

Stay safe, peeps, and as my father used to always say “Be good.”

 

 

Later on, that same evening …..

Hello again! And it’s still Friday the 13th, so more happy returns of the day to George MacKay, the remarkable star of the Not So True History of the Kelly Gang. I found both him and Orlando Schwerdt, who plays the young Ned Kelly, very watchable and believable. The performance of Essie Davies as the family matriarch Ellen is really powerful and a tad scary, shades of Lady Macbeth (interesting as director Justin Kurzel made his own telling of Macbeth in 2015); but Nicholas Hoult as Constable Fitzpatrick quite mesmerised me, such a charm and ease, and cold hardness (hmm, it just struck me that Hoult could make a rather good Flashman).

Sergeant O’Neil bugged me as I couldn’t quite place the actor; then I reckoned it was just that he’s like a cross between Tom Hardy and Heath Ledger; much later I realised I’d seen him just a few weeks ago in The Gentlemen, Charlie Hunnam, doh. It was lovely to see Thomasin McKenzie again (Elsa in Jojo Rabbit) and Russell Crowe (another born in Wellington like Thomasin) gave a rather good performance as the bushranger Henry Power (I have to admit I’m not particularly fond of the man).  Also, a mention for Earl Cave (indeed, son of Nick) as the feral Dan Kelly, he was really good; and, as I checked out as soon as I got home, a deadringer for a young Malcolm Young on the cover picture of Highway to Hell!

The Not So True History of the Kelly Gang is an atmospheric,  on-edge film, it gripped me from beginning to end. Visually it is brilliant, the cinematography is awesome, but then Australia is kinda awesome for a backdrop. One thing, it’s not so much about the Kelly Gang, more the personal (fictionalised, remember) history of Ned Kelly with the Gang thrown in as part of it; it’s Ned against his father, against Sgt O’Neil, Henry Power, Constable Fitzpatrick. For me there were shades of Peaky Blinders not only in style but that, like Thomas Shelby, Ned is driven by family loyalty and responsibility (and lost in it too?).

If one was to watch THotKG on such as Netflix, it would make a great double bill with The Proposition or Lawless. Or you could precede it with Captain Fantastic from 2016, in which George MacKay plays the eldest son to Viggo Mortensen, great performances from both. If you prefer horror, there’s The Secret of Marrowbone, another stellar performance from George, I caught this at the EIFF in 2018; horror as in suspense not gore, and an ending that may cause some sniffles.

I expect a great future for George MacKay, I’ll be watching.

Toodle pip!