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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Happy?!

In 2019 the loveliest man to grace a Fringe stage was back again with his new show Aidan Goatley: Happy Britain Part I, naturally I went along. Happy Britain? He told how he came up with an idea of going to the centre of every county in the UK and asking the first person he met, “What makes you happy?” Part I? Well, you know, life, best laid plans, et al, there was to be a Part II this year, and a book too! God only knows when that’s gonna happen now!! Mind you, his wife is a vicar so she could make enquiries!

The show was as good as expected – that being an engaging, charming, thoroughly entertaining hour that went by way too quickly for my liking. I could have happily sat another hour in that state of warm, fuzzy cheeriness (oh and the room did have good air conditioning – a bonus). The pic is from Mr Goatley’s bit in the Fringe programme. I think his attire may be a reference to Arthur Dent in HHGTTG, I seem to vaguely remember something, but I could have dreamt it.

Some time later I found myself musing on Aidan’s question, indeed, what made me happy, really happy? Where was my happy place? Could I answer that without resorting to flippancy? You see, though I always do my best to present myself as a jovial and happy-go-lucky chap, I am no stranger to melancholy; I knew I’d been slowly sinking into the doldrums for some time, my spark wasn’t very sparky anymore, more like an ember. Oh sure, Edinburgh in August (when there’s a Fringe on!) but what about the rest of it? I mulled over it for some time, if I could figure out the true honest answer could I use it as a compass to lead myself out of the doldrums on to firmer ground?

Actually, it’s the reason why I like the Fringe so much, it’s that blissed out fuzziness of witnessing a great feelgood show (usually accompanied by a goofy smile). It’s sitting listening to Aidan’s stories, it’s watching an hour of surreal sketches about three sperm, it’s the fun of watching a troup of actors allowing themselves to be dictated to by a roulette wheel of absurd scenarios.

And it’s being at a Logan’s Close gig, any time of the year. Oh yeah, there’s my Happy. No wonder this year’s been hard – I haven’t seen them since January! And on bands, one of my most memorable happy times was at the Fringe in 2005, late night in the Debating Hall at Teviot watching Bill Bailey’s band Beergut 100. The sheer exuberance of the band and the crowd was intoxicating, and when Kevin Eldon sang a seriously punked up The sun’ll come out tomorrow oh my heartses! The room was a big sweaty blob of happy!

As a young moose I used to daydream, as so many do, about being a great performer, acting or singing, both, I’d be amazing!! Once we get past the time of when our dreams were meant to somehow be happening (with no effort from ourselves), it’s woulda, coulda, shoulda. Then, one night, I don’t remember when, who or where, but I do remember having an epiphany, I was Audience – being a great audience is important, without an audience what is a show? I shouldn’t be looking up wishing I was the one on the stage, that’s not me; I’m the one giving my undivided attention, watching, listening, absorbing the atmosphere; I’m the one whooping and cheering and clapping, showing my appreciation to the performers.

Oo, that got a bit profound there! Thinking on it, I know it changed my perspective and my being. Would recognising my Happy bring on another change? Then 2020 came along and the whole world has been spun off kilter. Will Aidan ever get to do his Part Deux? Will hugging ever come back? There’s a great deal of Happy in hugging.

Bonne nuit, mes amis 💛

See, apples green, oranges orange, got that?

I’m in the wrong place, Gromit. No wonder l feel out of sorts, bloody Covid, I should be a couple of hundred miles south in darkest Yorkshire. I haven’t spent the second weekend of October in Edinburgh for eons! It’s one of my annual pilgrimages back to the old country. Some would say I should have just gone down but, having left the decision right up the night before I would have gone, the family all agreed best to leave it. The law may be an ass, but annoyingly my tribe are way too law-abiding for our own good at times!

My disgruntledness hasn’t been helped by an article I saw this week on Facebook from the local paper; the headline read “Curbs on amplified music, concerts and fireworks proposed for Edinburgh’s Old Town”. What! Are they having a laugh? Mind you, reading stuff in the local paper is like hearing about stuff from my mother – not necessarily the actual facts, just something with a resemblance of them. It’s written to read like everyone in the Old Town area came together and all agreed, no more fireworks, castle concerts, and we don’t care for the Tattoo either, really? A number of people compiled this ducument, by no means should it be taken as the views of all Old Town residents. See, that irked me but what really got my goat was when the article went on to say that this group also have “a radical solution …. to ban all amplified music in the Old Town, from …. individual pubs”.

I was annoyed with the way local pubs in the local music scene were being linked to the council’s greed for the tourist buck and everything else that’s bad about inner city living; the night-time noise in the Grassmarket area is from drunks spilling from the other pubs, the live music venues really don’t add anything much to that hullabaloo. I was so incensed I almost wrote a comment (having read the Comments section of the local rag posts, I know the savagery of the regulars and how adept they are at missing others’ points). Almost, then I noticed a Facebook friend had already pretty much made my comment for me, oo, and indeed there were already two replies that would exasperate anyone level-headed.

Would my friend reply back? From reading through all the comments I discovered the first reply was from a serial ranter with a rather smug, patronising attitude towards any dissenting views; please, don’t rise to it, I prayed, he’s so not worth it. Ha, no reaction back (I bet that irked him), but a good handful of likes in support of our local music scene. Crickey, if these recommendations were implemented it would be a serious blow to Sneaky Pete’s, Stramash, Bannermans, just to name a few. And if that happened where might the new puritans strike next?! Oh, I do get the need for some restrictions and noise controls, absolutely, but not by people who don’t know apples from oranges!

A tinge of blue

Today would have been the 97th birthday of the wonderful Nicholas Parsons; this evening Radio 4 paid tribute to him with a look back at his life and career along with an edition of Just a Minute (how could they not!), his Desert Island Discs and two one-offs he made for Radio Four. The Straight Man in particular was very interesting listen, part biography, part lesson in comedy duo dynamics. Fascinating stuff! Ah, Nicholas, the world has been very blue since you departed at the beginning of the year.

Edinburgh anď many parts of Scotland have just had all pubs and restaurants close down for at least two weeks. As a protest bar workers in Edinburgh dumped the remaining contents of their ice machines outside the Scottish Parliament, over in Glasgow the ice was dumped outside the City Chambers. Can’t say I blame them! They’ve jumped through hoops forwards, backwards and sideways to comply with the new regulations, disheartened is probably way too light a word to describe how they must be feeling. In the rest of Scotland licensed premises can serve alcohol in outdoor areas up to 22:00, but only non-alcoholic drinks and food indoors until 18:00.

You may already be pondering whether restaurants can still open if they promise not to sell alcohol, alas, the Sturgeon says no. But, some cafes have alcohol licences – apparently they will be allowed to open but not sell alcohol! You can imagine many in the industry are confused and angry by this contrariness. Indeed, I’ve wondered about the position of restaurants that are purely BYO, the Sturgeon doesn’t want restaurants trying to classify themselves as cafes, but without an alcohol licence what defines a restaurant as different to a cafe?

Even in the areas where pubs and restaurants can open, many are closing their doors because, even if they were as full as now allowed, the latest restrictions will make the businesses unviable. Sad times.

Dear readers, wherever you may be, I wish you all the best in getting through this in one piece. I hope your leaders use some commonsense and care about your well-being. I have to believe there’s intelligent life somewhere out there!

Esther? Is that you?

Today’s constitutional was a once round Holyrood Park, just on the road, nothing off piste today. I just needed a good long walk, and to get milk too. The park can be quite busy on a Sunday but I wasn’t expecting to see so many folk up by Dunsapie Loch…..

I thought, wow, I know people like to take photos of the swans but this many? Is it a photography club outing?! The chap hunched down at the water’s edge had the longest lens I’ve ever seen! Just one swan swam majestically in the middle of the Loch, loving the attention.

Ah, hang on, no, everyone’s attention was on something else, something to the left of the swan. A ripple, did a fish just jump? And another one. And I saw it – an otter! Holy mackerel, Batman! That’s a first, an otter in the top pond, and it was having a fine time frolicking! Oh, she knew how to work the crowd, a little peekaboo here, a frisky leap there, disappear a while to keep us in suspense, only to reappear a short distance away for a brief flirtation before diving down again with a flick of her tail.

Honestly, that is an otter, I promise you.

Toodle pip!

If you’ve never seen Buffy this won’t mean much!

Another Friday night and I ain’t got nobody – and I have about half an hour before Buffy comes on. The seventh series just started last night, but I turned over to watch the last episode of series six again, it is rather good! Mind the episodes leading up to it were pretty awesome too. Funny that, as first time round I wasn’t impressed by a lot of series six (apart from the obvious, of course), but on seeing it again there’s so many nuances and so much focus on personalities and relationships that I wonder, did I miss that or have the years given me a different perspective? A few thoughts on things I noticed this time round…..

Xander’s dad at the wedding, we all know that type, not nice and a lot of other ugly words; Xander would probably harbour secret worries that he’ll become the same. Let’s face it, he had become quite annoying and a tad disaffected through series six, so when Xander was shown a bitter future who didn’t think that was his truth? Okay, there was a teensy tiny suspicion but we were all relieved that it was a lie, sadly the lie had already done enough damage; Anya’s and Xander’s trust and belief in each other was torn to shreds by doubts and fears. I actually felt quite moved by their loss and fallibilities.

But back to Xander’s dad, where did I know that face from? Ah, I would have previously known it from Grace Under Fire (a great sitcom from the 90s), more recently it’s been the face of Bernadette’s taciturn father in The Big Bang Theory.

What a great story arc for Willow in series six, there were plenty of little hints of her descent into magic addiction, like the petulance and blind desire to shape life to suit herself. And when she gets really dark, wow, who ever would have thought sweet little Willow from season one would ever flay a guy alive?! Her romance, break up and getting back together with Tara was all so brilliantly written and acted; there was no big flag waving or heavy underlining of, oo, lesbians here, it was played so naturally and sweetly, I was rooting for them all the way. Tara’s death was quite shocking and signalled the start of the spiralling mayhem to the series finale.

How good was Anthony Head’s return? “I’d like to test that theory!” Boom, Giles was back, and the episode ended. There may have been a little air-punching the first time I saw that, and then we had to wait a whole week to see what would happen next! The anticipation! But the brilliance when it was Xander, the everyman, the ordinary chap, who saves the world and Willow by being himself and refusing to give up on her. Oh, my heartses!

One thing that didn’t ring true this series, this time and on my first viewing was the bathroom scene with Buffy and Spike. I get why it was put it in, but for all we know about these two, no, it just felt contrived and poorly written. I guess it wasn’t the easiest of scenes to write but still, it felt like the characters were being fed lines rather than being themselves.

Another wee note is Clem, like the Shar Pei of demonkind (very wrinkly skin). A sweet likeable demon who takes over Dawn-sitting duties when Spike takes off. For most of Buffy demons were all varying degrees of bad guys, then suddenly we notice Spike seems to have a chum and the local bar were demons hang is the place to go get info. This is, of course, after Angel goes to L.A. and Joss Whedon starts writing demons as just other citizens living there and getting on with their lives; which reminds me, next week E4 is showing Angel from the start. Joys!

Toodle pip, my sweets!

They’re baaaaack!

Yes, indeed, the uni students arrived in droves today. Well, in cars, with anxious parents trying to figure out where to go. I noticed at the halls, where once a very handy Homebase stood, a big sign saying “10 minute drop-off time”, i.e. throw your precious darling and their possessions oot the car and go! Mind, some will probably have been glad for a reason to get rid of smothering parents quickly.

My afternoon walk took me past the halls on Holyrood Road, up the Pleasance and left along Holyrood Park Road, so plenty of fresh new students around. After that my wanderings took me along the Innocent Railway, Bingham (I only know that from a sign), out to near the new Royal Infirmary, returning past Craigmillar Castle, through the woods and back up Old Dalkeith Road. A very pleasant couple of hours, it’s been a warm and balmy day (and another couple are forecast, yay).

It will be interesting to see how the students behave with all the Covid restrictions. Will they adhere, or be like students? I do have some sympathy for them, especially the first years; this should one of the most exciting and wild times of their lives. God, yeah, poor bastards, not much of a Freshers Week to look forward to! They should be mixing and mingling, making lots of new friends – this is the worst year ever to start uni. I shall strive to be tolerant when they clutter up road crossings and dawdle in hordes across pavements. At least the council has widened a lot of pavements, maybe it will prove to be useful after all.

Oh, and I’ve noticed that The Auld Hoose has put a teaser up on Facebook, looks like they’ll be re-opening very soon, they know their main demographic! There’ll be quite a number of pubs that’ll be well down on how much they would usually take from students in the few weeks of autumn term. There’ll also be quite a few locals who will enjoy the lack of student pub crawls. Again, I do feel sorry for the first years!

Anyhoos, it’s very late. My bed isn’t just calling to me any more, it’s tutting, most aggrieved at it’s emptiness. I shall leave you with two pics taken on my walk today.

The other castle in Edinburgh, Craigmillar Castle – a castle for your inner child!
Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park from Craigmillar way. That’s Salisbury Crags to the left of the photo.

Another post, with feeling

Oh dear, WordPress have gone and changed stuff, call me Sheldon, I don’t like change, suppose I do something wrong? Miss something I’m meant to do? And a hundred other little catastrophes waiting to jump out on me (I was going to a million but decided that would be exaggerating). What was wrong with it before? Will the new way be an improvement? So many questions! I feel like a gronk “Oh, my heartses!”

Anyhoo, it’s September, and even without a proper Fringe to end I feel down, but late last night my soul soared with joy. Why? My favourite Buffy episode Once More, With Feeling was on telly. I always feel disjointed and distracted at this time, it’s difficult to write anything down, so hey, I’m gonna share how much I love this episode!

Come on, what’s not to love about it? Joss Whedon pulled off a masterpiece here, the music is brilliant and his lyrics are so sharp, not one line is wasted. His fun and wit is not diminished at all by the constraints of song; and Whedon moves every character forward so much in this one episode. Mmm, yeah, just bringing one musical demon to town allowed for the whole board to be re-set with every player on a new space – how much speaking dialogue would that have taken? Way more than fifty minutes I reckon.

Who knew how good the singing would be? Well, we’d heard Giles’ dulcet tones before and word was already out before it came on UK telly that a certain witch doesn’t sing much at all by personal request. In contrast Tara’s solo was sooo beautiful, Willow’s silence could be taken as hiding her truths rather than a lack of singing ability of the actress. Oh, and Xander’s and Anya’s wonderful song and dance with I’ll Never Tell is pure old time Hollywood. Dawn’s piece with the creepy demon hench dolls again reminisces on old movies. Buffy buffed up well, nicely polished but somehow, I dunno, not quite as, something, argh. The ensemble pieces and weaving of voices were wonderful; Giles’ and Tara’s songs mingling as they face their truths, beautiful.

Let’s not forget the slickest demon to appear in Sunnydale – Sweet. His look was perfect, the zoot suits so cool, add to that a voice and moves that are spellbindingly charismatic. Heck, I’d be his queen, or pet moose, whatever! For a demon he quite a reasonable chap, mischief done, he goes. Thank you, and good night. Even the little screen demon at the end gets with the programme and sings his little “Grrr, aargh”, bless!

Oh, and Buffy and Spike finally kiss at the end. About bloody time ❤

Not the last night of Fringe 2020

The last night of the Fringe, the final push. No matter that so many venues have already closed a day or two earlier, it’s not over til the Pleasance and Gilded Balloon close the bars! Years ago Bud and I got serious on the importance of a great final night, no random show would be the last memory of our Fringe.

Over the years last shows included Otis Lee Crenshaw (three times), Rich Hall, Adam Hills, the Penny Dreadfuls (twice, and Humphrey Ker’s solo show), the Les Clöchards, then in 2013 we met Will Seaward and a new tradition was born. Alas last year he didn’t do the final night (I know, how very dare he!!), his last night was the Sunday, what ever was I to do!? Never fear, his fellow Rouletteers were keeping on to the bitter end, and a fine job they did too. Stupendous!

Interestingly, if Covid hadn’t come along this year, I would have had to start a new game of Who’s Last? See last year was the last of Will’s Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories at the Fringe. Sure, shows, companies, faces come and go, I know that. I do hope my favourite faces make it back again or are at least still being creative wherever they may be in 2021.

Oh, and there’s been the Edinburgh International Festival Fireworks on the final Monday for the last five years. Since they moved to the final Monday I stopped going to watch them in Princes Street Gardens, instead I wander down The Mound to catch a part of it, then I’m off to Fringe again.

I shall leave you with a few pics from last nights at the Fringe…

20180827_220059Something’s afoot at the Castle

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The dark truth of the Fringe……

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….sweat and tears, is what some performers take away with them after an August in Edinburgh!

 

I should have had a coffee first!

Yesterday would have been a grand last Sunday for the Fringe, a sunny day right through, not hot but not too cool either. It was the day to try out Gilded Balloon’s Fringe Search Party, so armed with a fully charged phone I headed up to Teviot Square. I really should have had that coffee before I went out. The first clue took me what seemed like ages to figure out what I had to do, and that was even after the hint! (after a few attempts the game takes pity on you and gives a hint). Then I was off and strolling!

It was fun to do though I did find some of the clues a tad obtuse, maybe it’s just how my brain works (give me a killer sudoku any time) and maybe that’s when a team of four heads are better than one. The brains that devised Search Party made the most of an emptier Edinburgh, some bits would have been way trickier with too many bodies obstructing the view.

So did I find Isla Fallot? Indeed I did, I laughed out loud when I realised where she was. If I’d had that coffee and thunk about it some, I maybe could have figured it out, gone straight there and taken a selfie with her. But that would be cheating, Brucie, I hear you cry, don’t worry, I like my glories unsullied, mind it would have been pretty sharp to have figured out her hiding place. No, the pleasure is in the hunt, just as well as my time was almost twice that of the leaders! Did I take a selfie with her? Well, no, because I was told to, bit like being told to have another drink at Christmas do’s, I felt a bit irked.

Edinburgh actually felt reasonably touristed yesterday. Plenty of folk milling about, still nowhere near normal levels though. I wonder how many were up because they’d booked to come when there was still a Fringe being planned; a very different stay than intended! How many were coming back and bringing a Fringe virgin with them? Nevermind the Search Party, the NotFringe2020 Walking Tour could have been a thing!! Oh my, that’s what I can do with those sad photos I’ve taken. Let’s see, where first?

20200825_215501Ah yes, Charlotte Square at the west end of George Street, this would usually be full of books, tents, authors, books and the best portaloos in town. It’s all locked up, can’t even get in for  sit down.

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Next to Adam House on Chamber Street. It was simply the Adam House Theatre before becoming C venues flagship for many years, but last year saw it under the Gilded Balloon banner. I did ask a number of different folk about their take on what happened. Some very interesting, enlightening listening!

 

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What’s missing from this picture?

A BlundaBus and a Spiegelyurt, oh and picket fences, and some really chill vibes. The string of lights you can see are in the Potterrow Underpass, very useful when rushing up from the Cowgate to the university area.

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I would forgive anyone for not recognising this park with its Narnia-style lamp as being George Square Gardens, I know, look the grass is real! Sadly it never fully recovers any more from the bashing it takes from the Jazz, Food and Fringe festivals every year.

 

20200830_231543George Square 2020, one lonely Tuk Truk and a coffee kiosk.

And how are things looking at No.33? Well, the weeds need sorting out!20200830_233523

And let’s finish this little tour by heading down the Pleasance and left up the Cowgate. Oo, the council have finally resurfaced the road, it’s now silky smooth, unlike the pavements. In August the Cowgate is usually heaving with people traversing up and down and across it; you can’t have truly done the Fringe if you’ve never put a foot on the Cowgate!  One of the loveliest spots on it is the Rowantree Bar and Niddry Street South…20200825_135050

So ends my little walking tour, things ain’t what they used to be!

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But I did hear about one venue that despite the lack of a physical Fringe put up a banner outside as usual. Oh yes, ClubFest 2020 may have gone virtual but the Scottish Arts Club put a real banner up at Rutland Square. Good for them!

 

 

 

Toodle pip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s oh so quiet now

One of my favourite spots in a proper August is sitting with a drink on the balcony in the Library Bar at Teviot, catching up on my fringe diary. That is, during the day or midweek, but when it’s too busy I head over to the other bar (the refectory bar?) on to the balcony there, by the windows in an attempt to get some air. Last year I found myself heading to the other bar rather more as the Library Bar seemed to become an “in” place to go.

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This year there’s neither, instead they have come up with The Garden at Teviot, which seems to be doing rather well whenever I’ve been passing. Of course, it’s all online, booking in, ordering food and drink by app, all so neat and organised. There’s no one milling around, yeah, I know a lot of locals are be delighted by the lack of hoards but not me, or the rhino.

I do so hope the world gets better soon, what is life without fun, spontaneity, creatives creating? Oh, and hugs, we all need hugs  ❤

A couple more pics for you, my dears

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a soggy day with no one about, except, see, there on the left, up on the wall. He’s so lonely, he’s been crying…..

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