And in the morning the sun shone

The thunder storm just couldn’t hold back any longer! The rain hammered down, the thunder and lightening went on for hours. Don’t reckon I’ve ever seen such a thunder storm over Edinburgh before. On an average 241 Tuesday night there would be plenty of folk about, plenty having to stand in queues in the torrential rain waiting for their next show! They hope it’ll be worth it, well, at least it was a cheap ticket – some shows won’t be worth even half price! They’ll sit listening to the rapturous applause at the end thinking Huh? What? with soaked-through footwear, a still soggy jacket, knowing they’re about to go back out and get even soggier, all for something that barely raised a chuckle.

Okay, so I painted a pretty crappy picture there, but such can be the luck of the Fringe. Take, for example, the first two 241 shows Bud and I went to see. Two by Jim Cartwright, hmmm, remember my cautionary tale about April in Paris? Well, this was like the second time I saw that, all vitriol and plain meanness (I do intend to see One again one year, hopefully as it’s meant to be done). Later that same Sunday we went to see Rich Hall and Mike Wilmot – Pretzel Logic, hmmm, this came across as a self-indulgent wheeze, dreamt up late night in a bar and written on the back of a cigarette packet. Sorry but that’s how we both felt walking out of the Assembly Rooms at one in the morning. How could the brilliant Rich Hall do that to us? Oh yes, he was the bee’s knees to us, sure the show had it’s moments, all his, but not many. We decided it must all be Mike Wilmot’s fault for leading our hero astray!

The Monday was way better with five great shows through the day, faith restored! Since that year 241 Monday was usually a day off work to see five acts, until the year Bud was leaving Edinburgh when we made it six – well, we had to shift up Shakespeare For Breakfast from it’s usual slot. Oo, that was the day we saw Thom Tuck perform Scaramouche Jones (epic), there was an Aussie sponge called Bruce (gritty antipodean epic), yay, Sleeping Trees: Western (possibly my favourite of all their shows), Tom Neenan: Andromeda Paradox was fine (but not one of his best), ending appropriately with Max & Ivan: The End.

Some wonder how one can see and actually take in five shows in one day, well, sometimes the show after lunch may not totally recalled (Tip, don’t have a big, heavy lunch or you WILL doze in the next warm dark room you enter!). Looking back at all the 241 shows that I saw between 2002 and 2015 there are only six that I have absolutely no recall of whatsoever. I’m surprised there’s not a flicker for Opening Night of the Living Dead at C Cubed in 2009, hmmm, nope. I’m quite pleased with that, after all, it’s not necessarily all my fault I don’t recall them!

There are seven shows I would love to be able to unsee, nevermind not being worth half price! Two, I mentioned above, another two God, Inc and The Story of Funk I have spoken of before. They are my Top Four worst 241 shows, fifth place goes to Carnival of Souls a multi-media arty thing performed in the Cameo cinema 1. It was so not our thing, Bud would have happily left early but I wanted to stick it out hoping to find something to like about it, I didn’t.

See, I feel good because I could easily spot the few I have not enjoyed, the vast majority have been good to bloody excellent. There’s so much variety I would be hard pressed to shortlist my favourites. It would take a lot of thought and right now the sun is beckoning me out. Indeed, it’s a beautiful day oot there.

Where’s my sunglasses?

Toodle oo.

 

241 anyone?

Wow, it’s muggy out there today! We were promised thundery showers all through today, but now today’s here they’re not gonna happen ’til the early hours tomorrow. It’s so muggy that Arthur’s Seat has vanished in the haze, or someone nicked it….

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Today would be Two For One (hence forth 241) Tuesday if it wasn’t 2020. Yesterday should have been 241 Monday, not that I have bothered about it much since Bud left town. Oh boy, we were happy bunnies when they introduced 241 days; three days of previews (well, evenings), a rest or maybe a trip to Tarquair Fair on the Saturday, then back into the fray!

Ah yes, originally when the 241 days were introduced they were the first Sunday and Monday of the Fringe, that was in 2002. It wasn’t until 2010 that someone realised that there would actually be plenty of bums on seats on the Sunday without inducement, Tuesday on the other hand – so the day was switched. I know these dates because last night I had a scout back over my Fringe bits and pieces, well, it started off with “I should do something about the 241 days”…. a few hours later I realised it was almost time for Buffy, no time left to blog (and last night’s episodes were particularly fine, especially Hush). So many memories, a few winces and a couple of “that means absolutely nothing to me”.

Oo, the heavens have now opened, and there goes a good low rumble of thunder. We may not have a Fringe this year but we still have monsoon showers, er, yay?! There was a brief but dramatic downpour yesterday evening as I strolled round town past many Not Fringe Venues, it started at six just as I approached Teviot Square. This year it’s a bunch of skateboarders getting soaked; there’s quite a community of them gather in the Square most days, quite happy at the Fringelessness of it.

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You know what? I’m feeling rather peckish . I’m going to have some tea …….

To be continued.

A noble failure!

Woohoo! I actually saw a Fringe show tonight! Yay! And it was at a very respectable half past seven in the evening unlike it’s real Fringe time of midnight (in Monkey Barrel One). What was this wondrous happening? I hear you cry. Why, it was The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society and when the name says Alternative it means Alternative (yes, with a capital A), oh, and quite Absurd too.

It may not have been late on, but it was as live as current circumstances allow and it kept it’s usual running time of two and three quarter hours (at least that’s if it doesn’t run over). Our hosts John-Luke Roberts and Thom Tuck were on fine form; well, John-Luke’s lockdown look is a bit Charlie Manson and Thom’s gone weirdly blond, but they’re fine. Or noble failures, I should say.

The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society is as Fringey as it gets, I’m glad I spotted it was on and booked a ticket (now it almost feels like August). So, I had to watch it on my tablet, but I had the sound on through my bluetooth speaker to keep listening as I finished sorting my tea out (lasagne with a side of broccoli). There were thirteen acts to get through so it all fair cracked along.

Stand outs for me were Deborah Frances-White, Joz Norris, Johnny & The Baptists and Colt Cobana. Okay, so Colt was just chatting but that’s fine by me, the man has a most charming voice and manner! I’ve never actually seen Johnny & The Baptists before but I would see them again, much fun. Ah, Joz Norris, an odd individual, but sweetly bonkers, I think he might actually be a selkie. Deborah Frances-White had us play a fun little game of “1932 or C Venue show”; was it a 1932 news story or the plot of a show that appeared in a C Venue? Some of the news stories were so bizarre it was tricky to call, but I reckon I got more right than wrong.

A most entertaining evening, only slightly spoilt by a glimpse of Messrs Cruise and Pitt in Interview With The Vampire, oh, the horror. Luckily Buffy was soon starting over on E4. They’ve now got to when Buffy intertwines with the first series of Angel, I should dig out the dvds, hmmm.

Well, it’s late so I shall leave you. I shall leave you with a note I wrote down while listening to ACMS, Am I my own Santa?

Toodle pip!

A Tale of Cards and Coiners

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They seek him here, they seek him there – apparently he’s on the wasteland! If only those Frenchies had had a set of Pepys’ Wild Flower Sevens they’d have known where to look! Oh, how we chortled, gathered around the dining table finally able to do battle once more. I say battle, playing card games with family could be mistaken for warfare at times.

Yes, I’ve been down in the old country as restrictions have been loosened off. They’ve clearly had a rather damp time of it, all the local reservoirs are full to overflowing (in July, wow), luckily it wasn’t too bad for my trip. The warm weather meant I was roped into mowing the meadow that my mother’s lawn had become. I left a few patches of flowers, the selfheal did look very pretty and the bees love it. I was also given the dubious task of pruning the hedge; it’s done, not particularly well, but it’s done. I’ll be sure to time my next visit down for after it’s next trim.

I joined in the long evening walks over the local hilltops, well, I followed on behind, not a clue where we were, just the odd distant memory popping up. Wandering on the tops did occasionally put us in the clouds, like here looking across to the M62…..

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…….but invariably the sun would reappear as we wound our way lower and home again.

 

 

 

I even learnt some local history when one evening a far hillside was pointed out as Coiner’s Country (I’d tried a knowledgeable grunt, but then had to admit to my ignorance). Coiners were folk who clipped bits off gold and silver coins to make more counterfeit coins (that’s the simplified version).

Turns out the Cragg Vale Coiners were notorious as the most organised gang in the 1700’s, so much so their leader was known as “King David” Hartley. He’d learnt his skills while working in Birmingham, then took them back home where the local weavers were in dire straits and welcomed any way to make some money. Enter William Deighton, an excise officer, sent to investigate, exit Deighton murdered in the Dusty Miller pub. Well, he had arrested “King David” in the Old Cock Inn in Halifax, which led the “Duke of York” aka Isaac, David’s brother to put a price on his head. The Crown got serious and despatched one Marquis of Rockingham to deal with the problem however he saw fit.

“King David” lies in Heptonstall graveyard. He was convicted for coining and hanged in York in 1770. There’s a book The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers that tells the tale, fictionalised but faithfully drawn from historical accounts and documents; I’ll definitely have to get me a copy. There’s also The Cragg Vale Coiners Walk by Christopher Goddard, a must-buy before I head down again.

The Dusty Miller (in Mytholmroyd) and The Old Cock are still going to this day, according to a quick check on Facebook. Interestingly, The Old Cock was later frequented by one Branwell Brontë. He also drank in the Union Cross in Halifax, definitely still open as I had a pint in there just last week. Sadly the George (a pub I misspent plenty of time in in my younger days) hasn’t reopened yet, no doubt another haunt of Branwell’s.

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I shall leave you with another card, played by my brother announcing he had Scabious on the Moorland, well, I had to say it – “You can get an ointment for that”.

 

 

Toodle pip!

 

Is it just me?

I’ve never seen June go so fast before! Is she speeding up or is Corona slowing time down so June just looks to be sprinting away? It’s Friday evening again, last Sunday I was brimming with ideas and good intentions for this week – I’ve got a lot of cramming to do before Sunday bedtime. Umm, can I blame my lack of impetus (aka bone idleness) on the current situation or am I actually this crap but just never noticed before?

Of course, any other year the full Fringe programme would have come out in the last week or so, I should be poring over it page by page, marking up potentials, big squiggles in the top outer corner of any page of note. Any other year I’d be looking forward to the Film Festival imminently starting, if it hadn’t already. Oo, he says after a quick dive into his files, ten years ago today I saw two films in Filmhouse One, The People vs George Lucas (primarily Bud’s choice as a big Star Wars fan), then just time for a quick pee before going back in for Monsters. 

Yeah, having a big Star Wars fan for a friend, I was well aware that many fans were feeling rather disillusioned by Mr Lucas (that was more than a few nights in the pub I can tell you!) Luckily for me, it was a smart, entertaining documentary (so it was a tad one-sided but these were passionate long time fans), enjoyable and thought-provoking (more pub chat!) even for the ambivalent.

Quick aside, Buffy has just come on the telly – it’s the first appearance of Spike and Drusilla!! Oh yay! And on that note….

Monsters but this time of the sci-fi genre. The film is obviously low budget but just how low was not appreciated until the Q&A afterwards, one of the best Q&As I’ve ever been at. Gareth Edwards, the director, writer, cinematographer, production designer and visual effects guy, came across really well with plenty great stories about the making of it; it was filmed in just three weeks in some pretty scary places, often without permission, using any locals hanging around who were willing to be extras. Edwards then spent months in his bedroom on his computer creating all the visual effects using just Adobe software. It all paid off – in 2011 Gareth Edwards was announced as the director of the new Godzilla film.

I saw ten films at the EIFF in 2010, Boy by Taika Waititi being my favourite followed by Monsters, then in third place Evil – in the Time of Heroes a Greek zombie horror film (yup, really!). One of my ticket stubs bears a film title that I have no recollection of whatsoever, nope, nothing.

And back to 2020, where the EIFF and Curzon Home Cinema have come up with #EdFilmFestAtHome, an online festival of cinema. It will run from 24th June until 5th July, there’ll be a new film each day (which then shows for between two and twelve days). I have had a quick look at this year’s selection but nothing stands out on first glance. Mind you, in a full year I may not find many films I wish to see, so I wasn’t really expecting my types to make the cut in such a slimmed down affair. I’m glad that something has been worked out, there’s even going to be live online Q&A after at least one of the films! Modern technology, eh!

Night all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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!

 

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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