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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Strictly speaking, he should be oot!

Yes, this is a post about Strictly, all about Strictly, you’ve been warned! It’s just before the Sunday dance-off show. Who’ll be in the dance-off? Who won’t make it to next week’s Final? Can Chris Ramsey defy all the nay-sayers and go all the way?

Nah, I don’t reckon so. Even if his fans keep him out of the dance-off, I don’t think he’ll have enough voting for him in the Final. Or, maybe getting him to the Final would spur on his fans even more to get him the Glitterball. If Chris and Karen make it through, the fans of whoever goes out tonight will be fuming and probably determined to vote just so he won’t win. Let’s not forget the Anton factor – this would be his first ever Final in the show and there’s a lot of love for him out there. I think the voting masses will keep him and Emma out of the dance-off, which could lead to an even bigger groundswell in their favour. And the other two pairs? Both excellent, clearly the best dancers, usually I would want one of them to win, but this year? Hmmm.

I like Chris Ramsey, I liked that he was happily doing a thank you for his time on Strictly even before taking part in the quarterfinal dance-off last week, he reckoned his great run was at an end (I could have told him foxtrot v samba, my money would be on the foxtrot). I liked his quick comeback to a comment on his face during his rumba “I was thinking of that mistake in the viennese!” Yes, he comes across as a lovely chap, why have I never been to any of his fringe shows? Why?

On checking back through my old fringe programmes, I clearly missed the window! It maybe didn’t help that he was often next to Chris Martin in the programme. No, not that Chris Martin, the comedian Chris Martin, but, well, I have a bad aversion to that name so would have quickly turned the page. Looking back, Ramsey did have very odd hair styles, I could snapped a few to show you but, well, I like him, we’ve all had bad hairdos.

Chris Ramsey burst on to the Fringe in 2010 with Aggrophobic at the Pleasance Courtyard, performing every day from the first preview night, no middle week night off for this lad, right through to the final Monday night. He was back at the Courtyard again for full runs in 2011 and 2012, I say full but he only went up to the Sunday night. Obviously things were going awfully well for him because he’d made it by 2013, just three nights of Feeling Lucky at the Underbelly Bristo Square at £15 a pop! Chris returned again in 2014 and 2015 to big venues, Pleasance One and Assembly George Square Theatre respectively, each time in the latter half of the Fringe so no cheap previews and no 241 days.

Yes, I didn’t pick up on Mr Ramsey in his initial Pleasance runs and by 2013 he’d done a Noble and priced himself outside my range. Come back again, Chris, do something odd and fringey! Come back, you have my attention now, and my admiration for getting so far n Strictly. It’s the first time I’d be happy if the best dancers didn’t lift the glitterball!

 

 

 

The natives are revolting!

Finally, it’s over, November’s done for another year, yay! Christmas is already old hat in the shops and the ever-expanding Christmas Market is causing the usual ruckus with locals. Yes, not everyone loves a Christmas Market! The local evening paper’s Facebook following have been pouring out vitriol by the bucketload about the council and the Underbelly (aka the Plunderbelly!). Some paint the Underbelly as the evil villain and the council as dumb, some just hate the council as totally money-grabbing and/or inept (they have a point there).

Probably a lot of local papers have similar followers on Facebook, i.e., people who love to complain and will at very opportunity.  This brings me to the point of Facebook’s “Top Fan” status; I assume this is bestowed purely on the number of times a person has responded to posts, I wouldn’t really call the Edinburgh Evening News top responders fans! The latest news stories (or often non-stories) are often “Suggested” for me, and like a guilty pleasure I succumb to the Comments where I’ve found that the Top Fans are the top lambasters and rather entertaining to those of us who don’t take it seriously.

A few weeks ago everyone become construction experts as the city was shocked by a picture showing part of the lower scaffolding holding up the market. The scandal grew when it was reported that Underbelly were going ahead without planning permission, meaning that when the market collapsed (deemed inevitable by all these new experts) it wouldn’t be covered by insurance. Many were threatening never to set foot on such a dangerous deathtrap!

I grew bored of it all. Quite obviously the construction was fine, the Underbelly are now a very big, successful company, like they’d risk everything by cutting corners on something THAT important, seriously. The planning permission thing, well, that is dodgy and in my opinion is all about the council being happy to cut corners, being lazy and inept, and only being interested in looking after big businesses rather than the local population.

Will I set hoof on the Market of Doom? Sure I’ll go for a meander round one weekday evening, I’ll even take a few pics pics for you. Will I buy anything? Most likely not, I’ve seen all the same stalls every year and have already bought anything I liked a few years ago. The market, like the Fringe, is a victim of the premise BETTER=EXPANSION, but too many stalls and none will make enough money.  Also the fact is that many people go to the Christmas Market like it’s an art gallery – great to wander round looking at everything feeling all christmassy, maybe have a mulled wine, but not to actually buy anything.

The council claim that Edinburgh needs a Christmas Market to compete for tourists. Oh yeah, Edinburgh has nothing to offer tourists without it, actually the council probably do really believe that, they seem to be totally blind to what tourists love about Edinburgh (like the history, architecture, scottishness). Every city seems to have a Christmas Market these days, maybe I’ll pop down to Durham or York, beautiful old cities, spend an hour in the Christmas market, then enjoy the ambience of a grand old cathedral city.

Hope you have a great December wherever you may be!

Wuss not woose

So, Logan’s Close were great tonight, Mr Marah is growing a rather dubious moustache for Movember and I’m a woose for not wanting to go out in the rain, so I’ve been informed by a friend. I say friend, a Facebook friend, would a friend call you a woose? Is that even how it’s spelt? Ha, not it’s not, it’s wuss (ok, I goggled it).

I may have stayed in, I may have dozed in front of the fire, but I also, luckily, flicked through the telly channels and spotted The Frighteners was on the Horror Channel. A most excellent film by Peter Jackson starring Michael J. Fox, there’s also Jeffrey Combs as a manic FBI agent and Jake Busey (the spit of his dad) amid a great cast.

I remember seeing The Frighteners at the cinema when it first came out in the mid ’90s. I wanted to see it for Michael J Fox, the comedy element and it’s New Zealand connection (having been there just a few years before), Bud was more about it being a horror film by the chap who made Bad Taste and Braindead (he was a fan). We both loved it and raved about it, but it seemed to slip under the radar for most. If you enjoy a good comedy horror then do check The Frighteners out; it is by the chap whose next thing was The Lord of the Rings!

It’s late, I shall bid you a goodnight and leave you with a glimpse of Mr Marah’s Movember moustache. Oh, and the floating head of the new drummer 😆

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Wet does not suit mooses

It’s a miserable, wet day here in Edinburgh, typical November. It’s so soggy oot there that even a set by Logan’s Close in Stramash can’t tempt me to leave the moose cave! Maybe if  I’d had more notice about it my mind could have been set on going no matter what, but I just spotted it on the board as I squelched past at lunchtime.

I was quite surprised as Facebook usually informs me of such things (and then tells me again and again and again….) but not a peep. Had a quick ganders at the Close and Stramash’s pages – nothing! The Pianodrome at Leith Theatre would appear to be the Close’s next outing (Friday 6th December, annoyingly I’m otherwise engaged that evening) and the Stramash events bit mentions two bands on tonight but not the lads.

Hmmm, usually there’s three bands playing on a Saturday night. So I checked it with the Close and indeedily they are playing, just seen on Facebook that Stramash have finally mentioned them this afternoon. Is it, like, really uncool to do the 7pm slot? Like, Yeah, we’ll do it but let’s not mention it to anyone, okay?!

Of course, Strictly is on telly tonight too, oo, soon. A good reason to stay in by the fire. 

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I shall leave you with this marvellous pic of the lads. Hmmm, what’s going on in those heads……..

– That’s it! We’re taking them down!

– Uh oh, I’m gonna keep sitting quietly and hope no one notices me

– Shit! Better protect the family jewels!

– Aw, hell! Here we go again. Why do I let myself get into these situations?!

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It was a very good year (part III)

In 2013 even the turkey was quite awesome in it’s awfulness and it still holds the record for my quickest exit from a show, somewhere just under twenty minutes! A few days before this traumatic experience I was wandering down an old town close when I heard a beautiful song that quite charmed me, I went to investigate the source – a young man who gave me a flyer to his Free Fringe show.

The show was Masters of Drip at the Fiddler’s Elbow, in the programme blurb it was described as “sketch theatre”, well it wasn’t comedy that’s for sure. I do vaguely remember enjoying the first sketch, the second one went downhill, the third made us envious of the folk who’d scarpered after the second sketch, by the fourth we knew what we had to do! See, between each sketch the Masters went “backstage” (a side room from the stage area) which folk quickly realised was a good time to run. When a couple more left after the third sketch and the fourth didn’t show any signs of better things, Bud and I were ready to leap up and legged it – leaving about seven folk left.

If you read my previous post you may recall that the Fiddler’s Elbow was the venue that also played host to the very popular Captain Morgan and the Sands of Time, which happened to be the show on straight after Masters of Drip! Indeed, the queue for Captain Morgan had already started outside when we escaped. I almost felt sorry for Masters of Drip, almost.

One show I didn’t see in 2013 was a one-woman play written and performed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, somewhere within the depths of the Underbelly, called Fleabag. Six years later she’s done a final sell-out run of Fleabag at the Wyndham Theatre. Ticket prices may have somewhat increased between productions!

In the interim Fleabag became a tv series with two seasons; in May this year Waller-Bridge was drafted into the James Bond writing team; then in September she went and won three Emmys for Fleabag – best lead actress in a comedy series, best writing for a comedy series and outstanding comedy series, like wow. And if that wasn’t enough, the lady has only gone and got herself a contract to make tv shows for Amazon!

It makes me wonder about the futures of this year’s crop. Does a story like this inspire them to work harder knowing it can lead to great things? Could I have witnessed the early performances of a future Oscar winner? A national treasure thirty years hence? And the people at the previews of Fleabag – they saw it for just six quid a ticket!

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It was a very good year (part II)

2013 saw McNeil and Pamphilon Go 8-Bit! Okay so if I just saw those words it would mean nothing to me, but the pic and blurb informed me it was about classic videogames. I had never been into videogames or particularly understood the appeal, but, well it was M&P so hilarity was expected. And how! So I didn’t know any of the games, but from my distance it was an entertaining hour of anthropomorphic insight; comedy, rivalries and the most evil forfeits (I really felt for Pamphilon by the end). The sheer enthusiasm and joy of watching a bunch of comedians mucking about and having a laugh was just a pleasure.

Go 8-Bit! embraced the new multimedia, these were young, tech-savvy comedians, or least, they knew someone who was! The following year the tech went even higher, the audience participated on their mobiles! Needless to say, I didn’t, and just as well as interaction meant you may be picked to play the next videogame – that would not have been pretty! The technology and interactiveness really fascinated me, but only as an observer.

The Pin was our opener that year (was or were? The name of comedy act, but it’s a double act) two fresh-faced youngsters, Ben Ashenden and Alexander Owen. It was the first preview which is possibly why they seemed to be trying too hard for the first while, but then it became much funnier as they relaxed. My journal says “They do have potential. ☆☆☆” I have seen them since and indeed, they’re doing well, they’ve even had the 6:30 comedy slot on Radio 4. I’d say that’s doing well.

2013 was our third outing to see Max and Ivan, who had moved into the Pleasance Queen Dome for Max and Ivan: The Reunion (they were going up in the world!)  The show was nominated for Best Comedy, though for me whilst it was slick and very well-done, it didn’t tickle my funny bone quite as much as their previous two shows. Indeed, the first time I put “A very enjoyable show, even though poor Holmes had broken his ankle… ☆☆☆☆+”, yes, Max Olesker had broken his ankle but he carried on and even got laughs out of it. Radio 4 beckoned and they’ve had two series of The Casebook of Max and Ivan with some great guests like June Whitfield and Reece Shearsmith!

Ah, I’ve just spotted on Thursday 15th at 14:10 I saw Sock Puppet in The Cellar at the Pleasance Courtyard. It was a monologue about a murderous possessed sock, and my first encounter with John-Luke Roberts. What a bloody fine year it was!

(To be continued……)

 

It was a very good year (part I)

2013 was the year the Free Fringe got really quite exciting, no longer was it just stand-up comedians in back rooms of pubs, there were proper shows to see! Or, at least, that was how my buddy and I perceived it. Casual Violence: Om Nom Nominous in the Voodoo Rooms was one such show, so good we went to see the company’s other non-free show the next day; the live musical accompaniment was a fine asset!

The Hawke Papers at the Blind Poet (loved that pub, alas, no longer there, that fine old boozer has been absorbed by the Pear Tree) was an interactive murder mystery using the full space of the pub for us to move around, look for clues and talk to the various characters. It was popular for a morning show, we missed out one day but were given a signed flyer and told to be there twenty minutes early the next day to be sure of getting in!

We heard that Death Ship 666 at the Three Sisters was very good and very popular and at 10:45 in the morning! After one miss we made it in plenty of time on the second attempt, great show, dubious venue. It may be fine now (I haven’t seen any shows there for a few years) but the back of the Three Sisters used to have a whiff of stale urinals, watching a show distracted from it, but hanging around waiting for a show to start was not pleasant!

The Free Fringe show that sounded right up our street was Captain Morgan and the Sands of Time at what was the Fiddlers Elbow at Picardy Place – ours and every other bugger’s street. We’d heard it was popular so headed down a good twenty minutes early, apparently not a hope in hell said the guy who came out to count the queue.  The next time we were just over half hour early, so did we get in? Argh, by a gnat’s crochet, no!!! We were right at the door, next in, sorry, jam-packed full!! Now fainter hearts may have given up at this point, not us, another evening another even longer wait (forty five minutes) but, yes, we made it in! Was it worth it? Absolutely! Two actors, one musician (yes, more live accompaniment), lots of characters including Poseidon, a Lovecraftian creation played by the actors together.

2013 was the year we saw the wonderful Aidan Goatley for the first time, another visit to the Voodoo Rooms to see Ten Films With My Dad, a Free Fringe show. It was also the Fringe we finally scaled the mighty Arthur’s Seat, not once but twice, to see This Arthur’s Seat Belongs to Lionel Ritchie, a gala spectacular of Barry Ferns and friends (not quite at the top as it was a very windy squally day) and then Barry on Arthur’s Seat, which poignantly turned out to be the last time he’d do his solo show up there – his knees had decided enough was enough.

Here’s a little collage of pics from the Arthur’s Seat shows. See, you can tell it was a proper Free Fringe show – there was a doorway to go in through and it’s where he stood with the bucket at the end 😆

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Last but never least…..

Yes, I know I said “tomorrow night” over a week ago, but I’ve been busy! Yes, busy, sleeping, working, eating. I haven’t even got round to seeing Tarantino’s new film yet, though I did manage to squeeze in Toy Story 4 (again), well, it is such a perfect film (to me, maybe not to you, but it is to me) and it left me feeling all happy and fuzzy.

Happy and fuzzy are good, see that’s how I like my last evening of the Fringe to be, I like a happy, bittersweet ending. But what did I do this year? Will had already left, I felt a tad bereft! Why, Mr Seaward has been rounding off my Fringe since 2013, yes, that’s the year before he started his Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories. Let me take you back…….

Monday 26th, it was a balmy evening, myself and a few friends were drinking in the Pleasance Courtyard, well, continuing drinking after the wonder that was the final Monday show of Tim Fitzhigham: Challenger (there are those who will remember the significance of it being a final Monday show for Tim, I shall just say, legendary!!). Flyerers were hovering around, desperately trying to tempt punters into one last show; we all had work in the morning and the alcohol was fast taking effect, so no amount of cajoling could sway us but we lapped up the attention. We had a right laugh with them all, generally waylaying their spiel with “So how’s your Fringe been?” plenty were happy to sit and blether before heading off to find more potential victims.

As we sat basking in a warm alcoholic glow, and I’ll quote from my Fringe diary here “a ruddy-faced, Crystal Tipps-haired chap came over to entice us to his show, we explained it would be too late (11.30pm) but invited him to sit down and join us a while and he did. Turns out he did the Bouncy Castle shows a few years back ……….Inevitably we later decided to head to Teviot to see him.” Yes, that was Will, and we were all so charmed and drunk that we agreed just one more last show would be fine!

So we turned up for Will Seaward: Socialist Fairytales! in The Turret, front row seats, we had no fear, we had more beer! I do recall Will got one of my friends up on the stage to play a witch, the idea being he had to fight the witch and she should try to get him to the ground, he wasn’t actually expecting her to almost succeed! He admitted later that she wasn’t as drunk as he’d thought, but she was drunk enough to be determined to achieve what he’d asked of her. What a great Fringe ending, and with that a new tradition was born.

Aaaand back to 2019. For the first time ever I took the final Monday off work, well, I did have my guest still up and thought I might start some tidying round (Yeah, right, the tidying was never gonna happen). I’d bought two tickets with my Friend of the Fringe deal to see A Midsummer Night’s Droll on the Monday morning before my guest headed for the train, however a late change of plans meant an earlier train back, so I ended up going on my own, ho hum. Not that I minded, I’d picked that show as they’re one of my favourite companies of the last few years and I’d get to see Titania again! Yay!

So what did I finish 2019 with? Well, the tried and tested method myself and Bud had, was to see again something we’d seen near the start and really rated, something silly and totally Fringe. Previous last shows have included Jeremy Lion, Otis Lee Crenshaw, the Les Clöchards, and the Penny Dreadfuls (three times!). Something silly and totally Fringe, a surefire brilliant show I’d seen before…..what a minute! What about an added bonus of a show seen – but also not seen before, a show as random as the spin of a wheel! Russian Roulette!

As Will had departed, our host for the evening was Sullivan Brown (looking very dapper in a sparkly jacket), presiding over the night’s production of Chekhov’s The Seagull. I’ve never seen The Seagull before – some may say I still haven’t seen it. Oh, it was marvellous, I was riveted! The plot seemed a little bizarre but hey, it’s Russian, maybe that’s how they roll. I felt for Konstantin, and poor Nina getting dysentery, and the chap who had a faberge egg for a head!! I wasn’t expecting Rasputin to show up, and that impression he did of Christopher Walken? Mind-blowing! But how did Donald Trump get there? Okay, so I remember that it turned out to be set in space, but did I miss some time travel bit?! Oh yeah, that roulette wheel may have had something to do with it 😆

Toodle pip!

 

Sunday ponderings at Chez Bruce

I just was up pottering round the kitchen, so I stuck the radio on (decided it didn’t really become me, so I put it back on top of the bread bin), ah, Just a Minute, yay!  Wait, what? That Gyles Brandreth was getting a tad presumptuous declaring who got a point, Nicholas will sort him out ….. er, Mr Parsons? Um, not there! But this show was clearly recorded at this year’s Fringe, where is he?

A scramble round to locate an object with Google (no, I don’t have Alexa, I don’t reckon we’d get on) and a few minutes of frantic tapping later, and I’m ok, he’s ok, phew! Well, he is getting on, 95 years old and has only missed one other JaM recording, coming in after the start and not hearing his dulcet tones is definitely cause for concern.

Gyles Brandreth did make a pretty good go of being chairman, is he looking to the future and making a bid now for the seat? Yes, sadly it will inevitably happen at some point, Nicholas will ascend to that great game show in the sky – just think of all the marvellous line-ups available! On the one hand Mr Brandreth does like to talk at length and battle his corner against his opponents, would he want to give up the cut and thrust of competing? On the other hand, listening to him, he may well relish the power to award points and to pontificate chairmanly, hmmm.

Would Just A Minute even continue without Nicholas Parsons at the helm? To many this would be unthinkable. After all, we can always jump into the archives for classic Parsons JaM, if we so wish. Indeed, I am in the “unthinkable” party, but, isn’t it great hearing newer voices come on, getting to grips with JaM? Unlike some comedy shows, comedians cannot rely on their bank of material for JaM, they have to be quick-witted, attentive and eloquent. The show today had Mark Watson on it, a lovely funny chap but his speech pattern does seem to naturally include a lot of hesitation (ok, and he’s fairly new to JaM as well); I did enjoy Kiri Pritchard-Mclean, I thought she found her spot somewhere through the show, then really got into it, her name is now on my radar.

It has been said that Just A Minute will finish when Nicholas Parsons goes, but didn’t we all think the same about I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue after Humph died? I for one quickly recognised Jack Dee as a very natural successor, his deadpan, irritable style fitted in perfectly. But thankfully that time is not is not yet upon us (he says, just quickly checking BBC News), and long may that be so. In fact, if Nicholas Parsons makes it to 100, I think that day should be declared a National Holiday, who’s with me? 😆

Ladies and gentlemen! Will, Clarence and Louloulou have left the building!

My, Mr Will is a popular fellow! I put up a pic of him and myself from Sunday night on Facebook – never had so many likes for a pic before (I’m telling myself they’re all charmed by my good looks😆). But what’s this? Sunday night? Why didn’t I save my return visit to WSSMGSVI until the last night of the Fringe as is my usual? Because he was deserting us a day early, that’s why! Not only that, but Sunday night’s show was the last ever (yeah, that’s right not just of this Fringe but all Fringe) of Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories! What! No more Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories to give me the willies? No more adventures for Louloulou and Clarence? Well, not at the Fringe anyway, but I do believe it’s not the last we’ve heard of them…………

What a great finale it was to a brilliant run of these last six years. Sillier, spookier and surrealier than ever, yes, I’m having surrealier as a word, bite me! We oooed and aaahed, screamed and shrieked, we egged Will on as he tried to warn us of impending doom, he beguiled us with his tales, neatly lacing them together by the end. The end was met with rapturous applause, as were his many thanks to crew, friends, everyone at Gilded Balloon Teviot, any time he paused basically. Some lovely person even made him a cake dripping with blood (strawberry icing) to mark the occasion.

I took my leave going on for two o’clock, as the survivors headed for one more drink to see Will off. Oh, I was tempted to join them but I was also feeling very knackered from too many late nights and early mornings with my houseguest. Ah, the end of another era, but such is the nature of the Fringe.

So, what did you do on the final night, Brucie?

I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Toodle pip!

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