Bruce the Phantom Moose

There’s nowhere quite as good as Greyfriars Cemetery for a few Hallowe’en shenanigans. There are more pics on my Facebook page, that’s Bruce T. Moose (and no the T doesn’t stand for what you might think it does).

Happy Hallowe’en  👻👻🎃

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Peek-a-boo!

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That looks spookier than me.

 

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Rather fetching, if I do say so myself

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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Some Lillies are Tigers that bite

Last night I headed down Leith to the recently re-opened Leith Theatre to see a performance of The Last Days of Mankind by Karl Kraus featuring the The Tiger Lillies. No, didn’t know anything about it, but the poster suggested a hard-hitting, provocative piece of theatre about man and war, and The Tiger Lillies! Oh yay! If they were providing the music, then definitely hard-hitting, plenty of sarcasm and black humour and no shying away from man’s vileness and depravity. It’s been just over five years since I saw The Tiger Lillies at the Fringe, way too long…….

The first time I saw them was 2004, performing Punch and Judy at what was called Pod Deco, this was an odd pop-up venue in the much-loved but sadly closed-down Odeon cinema on Clerk Street (I saw many films there, it was a proper old cinema). This was no family-friendly puppet show – the big clue being the blurb in the programme, “A lurid operetta, with supporting cast of shadows, glove puppets and rubber blow-up dolls. Step into the dirty, chaotic and violent world of Punch”. Yeah, violence and blow-up dolls, but still some idiots brought children along, only to leave before the second song was over! My friend who’d introduced me to the TLs told that when he’d seen them the year before at St Stephen’s the singer warned a mother with two children, she waved him off only to skunk out during the first number!

Punch and Judy was like nothing I’d ever seen or heard before, grotesque, heart-searing, beautiful, depraved. I came out needing a good shower to cleanse my soul – this reaction became my benchmark for a good TLs show. To paraphrase Eric Olthwaite, their humour is black, very black, even the white bits are black. Not for everyone, given the lyrics, but the music itself is sublime; a trio of very talented musicians who will spell-bound you and Martyn’s voice will stay with you forever.

Described as “an avant-punk Brechtian cabaret trio” the Spiegeltent was the perfect venue in 2005. We felt transported to another era, just without the thick cigarette smoke that would have been there. They returned to the Spiegeltent in 2008 with their 7 Deadly Sins. Loved, loved, loved this show, a brilliant set of songs, a burlesque dancer and a puppeteer/clarinetist with little angel wings who seriously looked like Timothy Claypole (a character from a long-ago children’s tv show).

The next two years the TLs were in the Pleasance Beyond, a soulless, functional, modern theatre with no ambiance at all. The performances were great but after the sleazy atmosphere of the Spiegeltent, well, it wasn’t the same overwhelming devineness, they were a band on a stage.

It was 2013 before they returned to the Fringe, playing at the Underbelly’s Cowbarn (aka Reid Concert Hall). A much better venue for them, I seem to the remember the lighting being really good, especially the uplighting on the bass player’s face, fair gave me the willies it did! Another great show with the usual crowd around their CD stall afterwards, they are quite prolific doing all sorts of musical projects, so there will always be new CDs to procure. Sadly I haven’t seen them at the Fringe since, so when they put a picture on Facebook with the comment Watch out Edinburgh, ooo.

So I got me a cabaret table seat in an old slightly dilapidated theatre, even walking in the ambience was right, a piano was centre front in amongst the cabaret tables, percussion at the right wing, bass in front of the left wing; liking it. Two gents with paled faces sat at desks on either side of the raised piano. The Tiger Lillies walked on to their instruments and played…

What a theatrical performance! Everything just outstanding!! The Last Days of Mankind was written in the early twentieth century, satirically charting the war and it’s effects on humanity as the author saw it in Austria; the collapse of civilisation in Europe at the time. Apparently the original play has over 200 scenes, almost 500 characters and an estimated 10 day running time! This new adaptation had a cast around 30 (from all around Europe), 35 scenes and a running time of about 3 hours, phew!

The whole theatre was the stage, with scenes emerging from the sides, the back of the central aisle, even the balcony! Pictures and film clips were projected on to the backdrop and curtain of a sparse stage. Martyn moved between the piano and stage to serenade us with his sarcastic dark wit (his accordian was a thing of beauty, always fancied learning to play one). It was a breath-taking, thought-provoking, mesmerising evening. My cabaret table seat was great, sometimes being right next to the action, but I am quite tempted to go back before it finishes to see it again from the balcony! After all, god knows when the Tiger Lillies will come back to town.

Toodle pip!

 

 

 

We need to talk about Seann

Yes I’m going to go on about Strictly again! This Couple’s Choice thingy is interesting, not something Strictly needs, just another show dance, ok so that zoot-suited dance was more than just a show dance, like awesome, man. Danny J-J didn’t disappoint with his jive as his score of 37 testified and how great was Alfonso Ribeiro!? He impressed me that he’d done some homework on everyone’s previous dances so to see how each had progressed, see, a lot smarter than he looks, and his Bruno impression was fun. Alfie should come over more!

Hallowe’en is a great week on Strictly, hair, make-up and wardrobe really go to town. Kate and Aljaz looked stunning as ice statues, shame their dancing did match the same standard but it was the rumba; Lauren looked fab as an evil queen and really channelled her inner Disney villianess for her paso doble; and Stacey made a cool Dr Who, her outfit was fab-u-lous, those cullottes – so stylish, Jodie Whitaker’s probably on to wardrobe now dropping hints! Kevin’s choreography made for a daring tango that they pulled off with aplomb.

Some of the tunes and singing left something to be desired, but I seriously loved their 90 second take on Screamin Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You, sleazy, sparse and soulful. I’m assuming giving that piece to Seann and Katya was no amusing accident, come on, we weren’t all born yesterday! But if you’re gonna go, that’s the music to go with, and then for an encore their final dance picked up from the middle of Bat Out Of Hell, “If I’m gonna be damned you know I wanna be damned, dancing thru the night with you…” I’d say that was a clear two fingers up to the “outraged and disgusted” mob. Good for you, mate!

So yes, we need to talk about Seann (or at least I intend to). The last few weeks I’ve delved into the Facebook Strictly page and my, the self-righteous, vitriolic, plain downright nastiness of some posters took my breath away! Seann Walsh could have had no idea of the world he was stepping into and how OTT the media and zealous fans can be. So he’s doing pretty well as a comedian, he will have had some dealings with press and publicity but never anything on this scale, and acting like a baying pack of hounds out for blood – his!

He isn’t the first to have a drunken snog with someone he shouldn’t and he sure won’t be the last. As for all the comments of how cocky and smug he is, really? I didn’t see any of that enough to slam him for it, we can all come across as smug or cocky in a moment or two, but really, he’s just a fallible bloke. Let’s not judge him for unwisely (and under the influence of alcohol) giving into the temptation of kissing a beautiful, passionate woman with whom he’d been up close and physical, after all, he’s a comedian not an actor who’s day job is to turn passion and emotions on and off as necessary – let’s face the professionals who should be able to deal with it better often don’t, let’s see, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise….

But Bruce, he left his poor long-suffering girlfriend on her own on her birthday, what a selfish prick! Err, she mentioned that in the same statement she claimed she didn’t want to come across as a victim, but hey, she knew the mob won’t notice the contradiction there! They’d been together five years, she must have known what he was like, warts and all, but she chose to put with his foibles as he put up with hers (everybody has foibles!) This strong independent young woman was sitting at home alone on her birthday – notice that she never mentioned whether they had arranged anything or that he was expected to be there. Woman, we’re not mind-readers, your birthday, why hadn’t you called the shots? Why weren’t you out or in with friends? The fact that she never mentioned that he missed anything that had been planned speaks volumes, she should have made it clearer she wanted him home straight after practice. Again, five years, long enough to know him.

At the end of the day, Seann was never going to get to the final anyway, better dancers than him will fall by the wayside. He gave it a shot, he learned many lessons along the way, he made a stupid mistake, but he’ll always have that Matrix Paso Doble!

 

It’s strictly about the dancing!

This year is turning out to be fun!! And at present we get the rivetingly marvellous Killing Eve later on (enough time to do the washing up and plonk back down with a glass of something). I was away to darkest Yorkshire last weekend so recorded everything to enjoy once I was back up, including Dr Who (of course). Yes, they do have telly in Yorkshire but I’m always way too busy to watch any!

Movie Week is always good, but I sometimes wonder about the choice of movies and the music, and who makes the choice and determines which couple gets what? The Powers That Be can definitely make or break couples with their decisions this week. Poor Lee gave it his best but the cha cha has brought down better male celeb dancers than him and The Power of Love is a tad overplayed and cliched now. Even an improved dance-off performance wasn’t gonna save him. Mind I only placed him in the middle-rank, didn’t reckon he’d make it to the end anyway.

My highlights were Vick & Graziano, Kate & Aljaz, Stacey & Kevin and Seann & Katya. I must just say, I’m really having to watch what the print goblin in this tablet is playing at, he clearly doesn’t care for Strictly considering how much he keeps changing names and words when he thinks I’m not paying attention! Those four dances also had the best music for me, especially Why Don’t You Do Right? Kate nailed that performance, wowzah! Happy keeps floating in and out of my Desert Island Discs, but I was unsure beforehand how well dancing minions would come across, hey wow, I loved Stacey & Kevin’s routine.

And then there was the Matrix paso doble! Wow, he really trained hard for that and gave it everything. That foot lift and slo-mo bit – she has incredible core strength. Orchestrated music rather than a song can really make a performance stand out from the crowd as well, who would have thought we’d have the Matrix Theme on Strictly?  And I loved Seann’s comment afterwards “Bruno, you can have your trousers back now!”

Strictly speaking Dr Ranj and Janette could have done their paso last week too as Cancion del Mariachi is part of the soundtrack of Desperado, check it out on YouTube, it has Antonio Banderas singing it! Late on last night I had to play it, one of my favourite soundtrack albums, not a bad track on it. I may have to watch the film again, and that means I’ll have to watch El Mariachi as well, I would thoroughly recommend both, if you don’t mind a bit of violence, that is.

So I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, who will be oot this week? Well, if the public vote similar to the judges then the dance-off will be between Kate and Katie as theirs were the lowest scores, 20 and 18 respectively. Next above them with 25 a piece are Charles and Lauren. That’s Charles’ fourth 25 in a row, dancing to a great disco classic; but no matter how well Lauren danced, jeez those dress colours were distracting and not in a pleasant way!

I did feel for Kate having to dance to Africa by Toto and a samba too! Not a kind dance anyway – but to Africa?! Toto only ever had one good song Hold The Line and even that has lost something over the years (yes, I’m really showing my age now). On the other side of the scales, one of THE naffist, overplayed songs Hi Ho Silver Lining was a joy to hear with Stacey looking totally mod and really selling the performance.

Ok, but strictly about the song and dance – the charleston to Bills, well the song doesn’t move me but neither does it annoy me and it does kinda tie in with a busy pizza place. Seann did do plenty of swivveling and that first lift! Loved it! Did the judges mark up? (For the first time ever I had a look at the Strictly Facebook page, the comments are brilliant, people don’t half get their knickers in a twist!) Yes, I think they did but as I’m ranking him in the middle still, I don’t think there’ll be any harm done from it. Plus, the silly sod could do with a boost after the week he’s just had 😉

So what was so important last Saturday? Exploring pubs in deepest Yorkshire that time and town-planners forgot……

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Strictly honestly – I was in the pub!

Yeah, what was going to be a lunchtime/afternoon session rather overran. There was me reckoning I’d be home for Pointless Celebrities, which was a Strictly line-up, and next thing I knew it was quarter to eight! Well, there’s a lot to put right about the world in these current times, a couple of pints wasn’t anywhere near long enough to cover everything! And when the fresh air hit me I was rather hungry so a fish supper had to be purchased, yes, had to be (a fish supper means fish and chips, in fish and chip shops here if you want anything with chips it’s a supper). So after all that I only made it home for the last two couples on Strictly, damn, but it was a fine pub session taking in the Jolly Judge, Bow Bar, Dagda and the Cask and Barrel.

Hurrah for BBC iPlayer, I watched both shows on Sunday evening instead. No, I didn’t watch Bodyguard, am I the only one in the country who hasn’t seen any of it? Maybe I’ll get round to it sometime before another series comes out.

So Strictly…… well I did say about making some reference to Danny John-Jules’ Cat and, blow me down, first off was himself and Amy doing a foxtrot to the theme tune to Top Cat – I loved that cartoon so much as a calf. He’s the oldest celeb but crikey he’s pretty fit and has some great moves, I reckon he’ll go far.

Poor Seann had the tango, not an easy dance for a male celeb to start with, but he did go for it so he gave it plenty of attitude and character to make up for lack of technique. The scores weren’t helped by Katya putting in a lift that wasn’t allowed, but ever a comedian Seann said it wasn’t a lift, more of a “chuck”. Being used to hecklers and the like, the judges may find he’s one contestant who’ll always have a smart quip back at them.

My other immediate favourite, Charles Venn, wowzer! Oh yay, he can dance, and he and Karen looked amazing together in red. Joe Sugg was actually pretty good at the jive, I was pleasantly surprised, but I’m not sure how he’ll cope with a rumba! Kate Silverton Cha Cha’d with plenty of attitude, but I reckon she’ll be a half-wayer. Another half-wayer I reckon is Graeme Swann, but I did love hearing Soul Limbo, of course he had to dance his Samba to the cricket theme tune, and Oti was as scrummy as ever!

Generally it’s another pretty good year with plenty of potential winners. More about the others next week. First out? If they’re in the dance-off, Susannah and Anton. Of course, if they get enough public votes to avoid it ….. but I’m not sure she has enough fans, even with Anton’s over-the-top antics.

If you’re thinking, what? Another post about that dancing tosh! Well, let’s say, if the title contains the word Strictly that’s what it’ll be about, forewarned and and all that.

Nighty night!

 

Damned statistics!!

Pardon me for not blogging recently and now I’m back just to have a rant! I have this particular rant every year around this time, every year? I hear you ask, yes indeed, let me tell you all about it, you might want to make yourself a cup of tea first…….

Ready? Then I’ll begin. Edinburgh Fringe 2018 put a post on Facebook to announce another record breaking year with ticket sales up 5% on last year. But Brucie, surely that’s good, isn’t it? Ah, but, dear friends, that statistic doesn’t really mean much on it’s own. The next statistic was just laughable, that ticket sales were up “a whooping 52% on the 2009 figures”, I should bloody hope so considering how much bigger the Fringe is now!

They also attached an article from The Scotsman about the latest statistics from the International, Book and Fringe Festivals, which was a bit more illuminating as it pointed out that in 2017 there were 53,232 performances of 3,398 shows compared with 56,796 performances of 3,548 shows this year. Hmmm, so that 5% increase in ticket sales isn’t a big deal considering the increase in tickets on sale, was it even enough for audience percentages to remain the same?

Oo, I was going to mention that the Pleasance audience figures were up this year, but on reading and re-reading and re-re-reading that part of the article again I rather think that bit is somewhat ambiguous (at least I don’t think it’s very clear). I think they are up, but not as much as I thought on first reading. Hurrah for the spokesman for Space UK, he said attendances were up 11% and they had a 20% increase in sold out performances. At least that does mean more bums on seats.

See, that’s my point! A 5% increase in ticket sales doesn’t mean diddlysquat on it’s own. So there was 5% more bums on seats, but if the overall number of seats for bums to sit on (ie, the number of seats available for every performance of every show) has also increased by 5% then there’s no real increase at all and a 6% increase in seats would mean audience numbers are down – audience statistics would be a far better way of judging whether the Fringe was more successful than previously.

Also, might one enquire how many tickets were sold at the Half Price Hut? After all, every ticket sold there is kind of like half a ticket, and let’s not forget the Friends of the Fringe 2 for 1 tickets, again they’re like half tickets too. They might make a company feel better seeing more faces but if all the tickets sold were at half price, how much of a comfort is that?

As a punter I love the Half Price Hut, it is a necessity with the Fringe having become so huge to help some shows get folk in, I check it most days hoping one of my possibles comes up. On the other hand, there wouldn’t be such a need for it if the Fringe had a slightly smaller huge choice of shows. Ok, so no one outside of the big acts makes any money, but if a show with tickets priced at £8 only manages to sell tickets at £4 it’s not doing well at all, surely?

Now I’m feeling despondent for all the little shows trying desperately not to sink beneath the waves of the great ocean that is Fringe. I do love the Fringe but sometimes I wonder where it’s going.

Nighty night  x

 

 

Strictly for the fans

Well I just had an evening of all sparkly televison, from first Strictly, then the Last Night of the Proms, then flicking over to Elton John, Glam Rock and finally a 70s pop round-up. Plenty of glitter all the way!

So, Strictly – The Pairing Up Bit. There’s been quite a bit of negativity this time that the quality of celebrity is going down with no “big names” this year, but then some people are never happier than when they’re complaining. Yeah, at first look I haven’t heard of about half of them, but then I never watch morning, daytime, news or sports television. So lets see who the fuss is about ….

The news mob, Kate Silverton is a BBC News presenter, Dr Rank Singh is a “TV medic” (that’s what it says!), Stacey Dooley (MBE) is a presenter, journalist and documentary maker; so all pretty intelligent, good careers, all probably well-known to a vast amount of people. Is there a problem with these guys?!

Vick Hope is a multi-lingual radio and TV presenter, a print and broadcast journalist, and an Amnesty International ambassador; Katie Piper is a former model who suffered a terrible acid attack, but has since worked on helping others with disfigurement injuries through television work, writing and her own charity. Two strong, principled ladies and great role-models, I had heard of Katie but not Vick, but millions will know both.

Lauren Steadman is another inspiration, a paratriathlete with a rather full awards cabinet! I have wondered, and as a fan of The Last Leg, is it ok to ask how will the lack of a right hand be dealt with in the ballroom (come on, we all thought it!). Graeme Swann, a cricketer takes to the floor, Strictly does like it’s sports stars. As athletes they’re obviously disciplined, fit and competitive, but out of their own fields it can be tricky! Their bodies are fit for their sport purpose but dancing training is often in opposition to how they did move.

Then there’s Joe Sugg, who?? A YouTuber apparently. Not sure how seriously he’s gonna take it, but I was touched that he would like to make it to Blackpool as his Nan used to dance at the Tower Ballroom. Then again, he does have millions of followers on YouTube so they could easily get him there whether he deserves it or not, hmmm. I do hope he turns out to be pretty good, otherwise it’s another Sergeant Scenario.

Susannah Constantine, only know her from the Trinny & Susannah TV shows, which I never cared for, I assume she’s still some sort of fashion guru?! Faye from Steps, apparently apart from Steps the lass has done a plenty of musical theatre and the odd panto (Oh no she hasn’t). Ashley Roberts was one of the Pussycat Dolls, she left the group to go solo and then ended up doing all sorts on British telly, very versatile and game for anything. Lee Ryan, another pop star, and apparently was also in Eastenders a while. All famous celebs, they’re kinda like the red sweater guys in Star Trek to me, cannon fodder, but I will pronounce my predictions proper next week.

I’ve saved my already favourites til last, not favourites to win, just ones I’ll enjoy watching. Charles Venn, another soap actor, wow I like his charisma! And he’s dancing with Karen Clifton, lucky man! Next, well I have thought a number of times that he should do it and finally, yay! Cat from Red Dwarf aka Danny John-Jules is reacquainting himself with sparkliness. I so hope they Cat him up one week, Halloween or movie week?

And finally, Seann Walsh, a Fringe regular for some years now (see I got in a Fringe connection) but I have to admit I’ve never seen any of his shows, but I have seen plenty of him roaming the streets of Edinburgh. Yeah, he must stay fairly close to me when he’s up, never remembered his name, he was “the dirty blonde guy” (as in a dirty blonde colour not dirty as in filthy, but then I’ve never seen his show!) forever wandering past me. Umm, I might even peg him as the dark horse, I reckon he may well have the attitude and self-awareness to succeed, as long as he has some sense of rhythm too!

So there’s no A listers up there, but neither are anyone of them vacuous celebrities. They are famous in their own spheres and the outraged are just mad that it’s not a line-up all from within their own little world sphere, get a life!! Strictly is like a Venn diagram, spheres collide, new mixes come out of it.

Toodle pip!

 

Post Fringe Blues

Hi folks! I’m writing this from the doldrums, the pit of despair, aka postfringe-Edinburgh. Motivation is currently a four-letter word. My get-up-and-go got up and left with the Fringe and all it’s accoutrements. My joie de vivre has taken on the tone of Marvin, “Life? Don’t talk to me about life.” Was it only six days ago it all ended again? I was still in full Fringe-mode this time last week (eleven o’clock Sunday night).

This time last week in the rather warm Monkey Barrel 2, I was trying to see round a rather large gentleman to watch some bad wrestling matches. Yes, I finally got round to going to Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana Do Comedy and Commentary to Bad Wrestling Matches and can confirm you need know nothing about wrestling to enjoy this show. It may help to know something or be a fan, but just an enjoyment of hilarious video clips is enough, and the banter between Burns and Cabana is a joy to behold, like some old married couple. There were a few guests on to add to the mix and chat, the last of which was John Hastings; he must always have a lot of posters up as I’ve never seen him but I knew who he was  (unlike the other guests).

Then, what happened at the very end of the show made me very glad I’d finally gone ….. Brendon announced it would be his last time of co-presenting it!! His reason being he’s getting old – er, 47?! Old? It was quite touching the emotion in the room, while everyone tried to stay very manly about it! Ya big softies! So I’m very glad I finally made it to BBACCDCACTBWM for Burnsy’s swansong, now I wish I’d been earlier, like six years earlier.

Toodle pip!

The party’s over 😭

Give me a few days to tidy all the mess of the last month, wash all the washing up, catch up with work in work and sleep in bed, much, much sleep in bed!!

To tide you over, here’s a few pics of the final furlong and if you have a look on Facebook (Bruce T. Moose) I arranged for an old friend to sing a farewell song to Fringe 2018 😉

 

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One last show to desperately advertise or how they felt by the last night?!

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Psychedelia at the Pleasance Dome

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Will Seaward in full scary mode intent on scaring the bejesus out of all who dare entire his domain!

A walk on the fringe side

Last night walking through the Cowgate, Fringe posters everywhere, I got to pondering if someone was trying to remember a recommendation …. “I remember it’s John, yes definitely John, the surname was something like Roberts, or possibly Robertson? What’s that? John-Luke? Oo, not sure, the guy said he was very good. Huh? Roberts? No, I think it was Robertson. Well, they’re both comedians, how different will they be?” Well, sir, they are very different, just like porters and golden ales are both beers but one style is bogging whilst the other is rather nice; pick the wrong one and the result may leave a rather unpleasant taste! Personally, of course, I enjoy both Roberts and Robertson but I don’t like porters.

Earlier today after seeing Scary Story at Paradise in the Vault I headed home the roundabout way down the Royal Mile, now the last chance saloon for flyerers desperately trying to drum up one last audience. Also walking along was one of the silent disco walking tours, yeah right, silent?! They dance around singing loudly and badly to the amusement/annoyance of other pedestrians. Today I happened to catch their rendition of Sheena Easton’s 9 to 5, damn them, it’s still in my head! And I remember all the words, oh the shame!

Let’s make it a threesome, yesterday afternoon heading from the Gilded Balloon up the Royal Mile I happened upon a chap typing up instant poetry on the street. Ho, I thought, never had a poem written just for me, so I commissioned him to tap something out. Him was Ben, a lovely American chap who’d seen it done in New Orleans and decided to give it a whirl himself. We had a lovely chat, enjoying the late afternoon sun as the world passed by. Here’s his endeavours, a new treasure to add to my Fringe Box.