You take your eye off the ball for mere moments…..

Hello, dear reader, did you miss me? I do have a tendency to disappear into other things after the Fringe is done. This year I somehow managed to totally miss that Logan’s Close were playing at the Dunbar Music Festival, headlining no less, at the Battery on the Saturday night. And with a new bassist! Okay, so there was a different drummer too, but they’ve had various drummers in ever since Mick left (drummers round here seem to be real tarts, they don’t commit to one band). I’ve seen clips on Facebook and reckon this bassist is a good fit, and he can sing harmonies too, bonus! Check out the Dunbar Music Festival’s Facebook page to see for yourself, there’s plenty of clips of all the bands through the weekend.

Oo, I’ve just spotted one Willie Dug & The Cosmic Gents were playing on the Saturday afternoon. They’re rather good, I caught them at the Voodoo Rooms last Wednesday; I heard there was a free gig with three bands to celebrate the return of live music, yay. Annoyingly I wasn’t aware that Carl Marah was the first support act – until I wandered in during his final song, dammit. I also didn’t hear that he was the guest with the Handsome House Band at Stramash the previous Sunday until after it happened! Three misses in less than a week – no, I was not a happy bunny or moose.

I’m not the only back in the room, the students are all back in droves. This last week has seen masses of wide-eyed, big suitcased young’uns trying to find the right Students Residence (there are an awful lot these days and not all are well signposted, as the fast food delivery guys will testify). The older returning students have been making up for a lost year by hitting all the night spots hard, the local media have been going on about the long queues. Oh, give them a break, cut them some slack, please. Yes, Covid is still here but we’re gonna have to get on with life some time, as far as I’ve seen they’re all carrying masks ready for donning as necessary and have phones out ready to check into places (yeah, this is still what Beyond Level Zero means in Scotland).

Mind, the locals may have yet another reason to moan about the students – shortages of beer and certain food items made even shorter. The beer isn’t flowing as it should (last week the Voodoo Rooms were without any Joker or Caesar Augustus and Stramash has had a few beers missing) and the hoards of students will drink plenty, I would imagine. A couple of days ago, the Tesco’s up on the Southside was devoid of olive oil, much of their own brand herbs and spice range, the pasta, rice and tinned tomatoes were severely depleted as was the cheaper soft loo roll; that’s definitely students doing a first stock-up.

Sadly, the start of a new academic year has meant that Roy the Barista has left Edinburgh to study in London – no more lattes and cheery banter on the Royal Mile for me! His latte was so fine I didn’t need to add sugar to improve it, a first for me. Some years ago the best coffee was to be had from Ruby in an old police box, this summer it was Roy from an old phone box, where will the next best coffee be served from? An old pillar box?!

G’night! Sweet dreams!

R.I.P. author/comic Lynn Ruth Miller… — SO IT GOES – John Fleming’s blog

Regular readers will know of the unique, seemingly indefatigable and gloriously multi-talented US comic Lynn Ruth Miller, an occasional and much-admired contributor to this blog. If not, type her name in this blog’s Search.  Multi-award-winning Lynn Ruth died of cancer yesterday afternoon in London. So it goes. In 2019, she explained that she didn’t plan […]

R.I.P. author/comic Lynn Ruth Miller… — SO IT GOES – John Fleming’s blog

A duo of monologues

I’m counting this morning’s show as my Shakespeare foray for this Fringe! It wasn’t one of his plays but there were plenty of his lines quoted and it was called Shakespeare’s Fool, so yes, it counts. I was back for a second time in the Main Theatre at theSpace @ Symposium Hall, the bar was set pretty low after the last production I saw here. No worries, it was a superb performance! The audience were hung on to his every word (which we could hear clearly whether he spoke loudly or softly).

This was Will Kempe recounting his life story to a mouse called Maurice (who performed his part admirable) in one final performance before passing away with the name of his first love on his lips. Who he? William Kempe was one of the most famous clown actors towards the end of the sixteenth century, a contemporary of William Shakespeare, his buddy, he brought to life Shakespeare’s characters, some they say written just for him; then they fell out. This one man play tells a tale of what might have happened with plenty of the historical facts around it. Fascinating stuff! Robin Leetham plays the part so well; it always astounds me how actors can stuff so many lines in their heads and bring them all back out in the right order, especially monologues (and this one was seventy five minutes long!). He also looked rather splendid in his fool’s garb, top marks for wardrobe.

One thought did pop into my head from time to time – much as I was enjoying Robin Leetham’s performance, I would love to see Thom Tuck have a shot at it. I think he’d make a fine Will Kempe, well, he’s not dissimilar in character! Perhaps it was also that Shakespeare’s Fool reminded me of Scaramouche Jones that Thom played so well (four years til the next time if he keeps to his plan).

Can I rewind a bit to yesterday now, please? That show I was heading to, another brilliant example of how to deliver a monologue and keep your audience mesmerised, was Watson: The Final Problem playing in Assembly Roxy (I do like the Roxy, it’s a fine old building, originally a church). The setting is three years after Holmes’ death at Reichenbach Falls, Dr Watson recounts his life (yes, another life story!) right from being a young soldier wounded in Afghanistan. It’s a cracking tale, of action, intrigue and poignancy, but ultimately at the end, after a full account of the past Watson looks forward to the future (unlike Will Kempe dying broken on a street corner).

Tim Marriott is excellent as Dr Watson, fans of Sherlock Holmes will not be disappointed at this story angle; Watson deserves more limelight! The show is only on until Sunday 22nd at 12:45 in the afternoon. Shakespeare’s Fool is on at 11:20am right up to Saturday 28th. Definitely my top two theatre shows this Fringe (sorry, Guy!)

2021: To flyer or not to flyer?

Yay! The sun’s oot today. Hopefully the clouds will all just blow past with releasing their loads. I did venture out in the rain briefly yesterday afternoon, well wrapped up against it (think vampires covering up to go outside in sunlight, I’m like that with rain) and, would you Adam and Eve it – there were flyerers out on the Royal Mile! Bless them, brolly in one hand, flyers in the other, trying to be enthusiastic in the rain. Turns out they were all one comedy troupe, The Manchester Revue, up at the Fringe until the 14th. And where were they putting their sketch show Free Shot On Entry? Ah, theSpace Triplex, I mentioned I may have a problem booking a ticket for Triplex …….. they know about the glitch and hopefully it should be sorted, especially with more seats being allowed to be sold now.

I had wondered when I would spot my first flyerer as I know some are dubious about whether flyering is a suitable option in these current covidian times, moving instead to speaking to folk and having a QR code on hand for scanning show details on to their phones. Whilst I can see that it is a good idea, and less paper usage too, it would mean yet more staring at a screen! How many hopefuls will be out on the streets today enjoying the sunshine? I shall chat, see if a show interests me, if so, then I’ll take a flyer.

I’ll be heading soon to see my second show The Return of Sherlock Holmes on at the Gilded Balloon in the Dining Room. Yes, the Gilded Balloon quickly rejigged their seating arrangements for the glorious 9th and now have single seats, woohoo. There’s a lot of re-jigging going on as more shows come up, more seats are available, dates changing as things open up. BEWARE Fringe goers, some media platforms don’t keep up with the changes, as myself and a horde of others found out last Sunday!

Did I mention before that there’s some discrepancy as to when Barry Ferns is going to on Arthur’s Seat? Happily I now know others have spotted it too, I did not dream it (always that niggly self-doubt!). Sunday midday turned out to be fine (the forecast had been for some rain) so fortified with a strong coffee I headed up in the Park, it was quite a warm day in fact. Phew, just made it on to Arthur’s Seat for one o’clock …… erm, okay, no Barry. It wasn’t particularly windy but I checked over to see if he was further down at his lower stage setting, nope. It became apparent that while there were plenty of the usual walkers just up for the view, there were plenty up for a show! Ah well, it was a lovely day to be up there. Maybe it’s all part of a plan so he has the fittest audience on the Fringe!

Must dash now!

A new Fringe show: Waiting for Barry
Arthur’s Seat – the venue with the best views in town and great air conditioning 😆

They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse

The rain gods realised it was 241 Monday at the Edinburgh Fringe, oh yes! It may not be much of a 241 Monday but the rain gods were gonna christen it, a full-on dunking. Finally around mid evening they got bored and allowed the skies to finally clear – just as well as I had to queue outside for a show, that started 30 minutes late (technical lighting problems). Yes, I went to my first show today! Well, the lovely people at Assembly were doing a Locals offer – half price tickets for a select few shows for the next few days. Naturally, I had to check the list, nothing that really tickled my fancy, but Guy Masterton, Fringe institution, was doing a one man show, definitely worth a shot!

So there I was at the back of nine o’clock sitting in the magnificent Palais Du Variété spiegeltent in the Assembly George Square Gardens. I took a moment to have a good long look around and savour everything. Really, you couldn’t have a fringier start to a Fringe – a wet, wet day, an atmospheric spiegeltent, and Guy Masterton performing Under Milk Wood (abbreviated, or he called it, Semi-skimmed). I’ve never seen it or read it before, the little I knew about Under Milk Wood never appealed to me, but this, it seemed was finally the time to try it, taste it and see!

How was it? Very theatrical, darling. But it worked – thinking back on it now, I could almost believe I saw it with a full cast of actors, the stories in black and white vignettes on film. Guy Masterton is a masterful storyteller, riveting to watch, yes, a bit theatrical for me, does that say more about me or him? I am very glad I went, I experienced something a little out of my range (hey, these days I eat salad mixes with tomatoes, cucumber and celery in them, would never have done that twenty years ago!). I really appreciated some of the lighting effects, white spotlights from below sending dark silhouettes on to the red background (very Lynchian) and when they flicked from side to side to have the effect of two people arguing, I loved it. I found myself thinking that the shadow might actually start acting apart from him, move independently, even attack him! Yes, the shadow play really did a number on me – was that Masterton’s intention with the effects?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen him perform before. I’ve seen plenty of his Fringe work as producer and director, best known are, 12 Angry Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Odd Couple and more recently The Shark Is Broken; all rather excellent. Oh yeah, on my wander home after the show tonight I passed Pip Utton, another Fringe institution who’s had a number of his shows directed by Masterton.

Must go lie down and sleep now. Ah, it feels my Fringe has begun now! A few photos from this evening for your delight and delectation.

No paradise nor bedlam this year!

It’s Friday night, I’d usually be in a final preview show at this time (four years on the trot it was Will Seaward just starting as I type this). It really doesn’t feel like Fringe time, apart from the weather – thunder early afternoon and heavy showers since then. I took my walk early evening once it was looking dry for a while. I was noticing the things that were missing, a Spot The Difference Stroll. There’s often six differences to spot in those pictures, so six, i ) no C cubed at Riddles Court, ii) nothing at St Columba’s, iii) nothing at Roman Eagle Lodge aka C Aquila, iv) no Paradise in the Vault (a big miss, I always see something great in there), v) no Paradise in Augustine’s (not that any production came close to that in there!), and vi) no Bedlam!!! That’s a really big hole in the aesthetic of the Fringe; an iconic building looking bare and closed up, such a shame.

Was it because of the rain, lack of interest or a lack of people, but George Square Gardens, weren’t remotely busy; the Assembly side was positively genteel with a harpist playing on a small stage set into the bottom corner. I think it’s the Underbelly in Teviot Square (shows how much of an impact it made on me), also quiet. Oh, I’ve just realised – no Pleasance Dome, of course. One small thing that made me smile was a few couples dancing the tango by the Dugald Stewart Building; I have no idea what that was about but it was quite charming to watch a while!

As I was quite peckish by then I headed home via the Sharwarma House on Nicolson Street. They do a rather good lamb sharwarma wrap for a reasonable £5.99, there’s plenty of it. I washed it down with a bottle of pils, yes, a pils, one of the few times I do prefer a lager to real ale or cider.

Oo yes, I did book some tickets today, six, enough to save a bit on the booking fees. I did try to book two more, but, well, the computer said no, and it kept saying no no matter how many times I tried! Why did I keep trying? Well, when the screen shows which days there’s still tickets available, but then comes up with “Sorry there are not enough tickets available to fulfil your request” at a request for one ticket!! I was a tad narked, any of the days I clicked on said the same thing and both shows are the same venue theSpace Triplex, hmmm. Maybe I’ll try checking them next week in case more tickets are added after Monday, I do hope so.

On the plus side, and oh so fringe side, my new favourite from 2019 is back, Luke Rollason, yay. He’s back at the Monkey Barrel again – I have my ticket booked! So looking forward to seeing his latest offering.

I’ll leave you with a photo of the Bedlam Theatre taken back in 2017. Adieu!

Is this the way to Arthur’s Seat?

I was asked yesterday afternoon as I was about to unlock my tenement front door. Why yes, madam, and I hope the looming clouds don’t shed their load until after you’ve enjoyed the wonderful panoramic views and are back down. Judging from when the rain started she may have made it halfway back, and with no brolly or rain jacket -soggy! Before that I’d passed a family standing on the street debating whether the hotel they’d found was the right one, I almost turned back to enquire the name of the establishment they were looking for but then I remembered that I never remember the names of the hotels in the area, so I silently wished them luck and continued on. I should try and learn which is which as there’ll soon be plenty of confused travellers wandering around.

I’d been out to put some of my Fringe Fund in my bank account as so much stuff will be card or online payments this year. There was also a package from Amazon to be picked up from a locker in Waverley Mall, trickier than I thought! I followed the directions to where it should be but couldn’t see any lockers, perhaps I was approaching it wrong? Back to the entrance, followed the directions again, nope. It didn’t help that the instructions said that the lockers were next to an I Love Scotland shop that clearly isn’t there anymore! Doh. Finally I did the unmanly thing and asked a security guard, oo, I was so close to them the whole time! A sign or two would help, they are tucked away somewhat, I feel certain that I’m not the only one unable to see them.

Back outside the mall on Waverley Bridge another fine guitar band were rocking and playing the blues. See, Waverley Bridge has been closed as a thoroughfare for a while now, so bands have taken to playing at the Princes Street end (probably one of the very few pluses about the council’s Spaces for People).

《big pause whilst I catch up with a friend over lunch, a wander and a coffee》

After my friend toddled off home I decided to have one more treat and went to Ciao Roma for an ice cream, a single scoop of passionfruit cheesecake in a cone, yay. As its been a gloriously sunny day I headed to Waverley Bridge to see who was playing. It was the lead and rhythm guitarists from one of the bands that plays there quite a bit. They were rather good so I stayed longer than intended. Vocal duties were shared between them, two very different voices, really can’t call which I preferred. Mind, the final number, a sublime bluesy version of Minnie the Moocher sung by the lead guitarist, oh yeah, he really delivered it with style. So, basically, if you’re passing by the east end of Princes Street in an afternoon, be prepared to get waylaid a while by some great sounds!

Aaanyways, back to yesterday. The band waylaid me, had to leg it up Cockburn Street and down the Royal Mile to grab a coffee from my new favourite barista, Roy – he closes at 3pm. Lovely chap, makes a damn fine coffee! He’s in one of the old red telephone boxes outside the chemist, just up from John Knox House. He opens up really early doors, 7am I believe (I haven’t risen that early for some while). Coffee procured I headed off and checked the latest menu boards outside a couple of local cafes, indeed early glances had not deceived, they were now doing eggs benedict. Annoyingly, closer inspection revealed that they’re using ham rather than bacon, no no no. Ham will not do for this moose, as won’t a base of anything other than a muffin (that’s a no to wanky “toasted artisan bread” Rocksalt). Which reminds me I should revisit Em’s Kitchen, they’ve had a refit so I should check that their eggs benedict hasn’t suffered from the changes.

Ah, changes, the Sturgeon’s been at it again. Scotland’s going “beyond level zero” on Monday 9th August; er, zero mean zilch, nada, a big fat nothing, still having face masks as a legal requirement in the same indoor settings (also “likely to be mandated in law for some time to come” from the lips of the Sturgeon herself) and having to provide contact details in all the same hospitality spaces as now, isn’t nothing nevermind past nothing! Not that I have a problem with keeping some safety measures in place, but calling it level zero and beyond?!? It’s not, its more like level 0.5.

Mind, even the deputy first minister is unclear about what will be allowed next week, he said on morning television today that “vertical drinking” would not be allowed (you maybe wondering, like me, wtf is “vertical drinking”?) that’s apparently standing drinking at the bar in a pub, Mr Swinney agreed that people would have be masked while ordering a drink at the bar and would not be allowed to stand and drink it there ………. hours later a government official confirmed this was not the case, drinking at the bar will be allowed. There’s also still confusion on mask wearing in nightclubs when they re-open (in five days time) apparently the government are still working on this one! The Sturgeon claims to be very cautious about bringing in Covid passports, hmmm, saying that could be to gain public sympathy for having to make such a difficult decision before it’s announced (cynical, moi?).

What will the changes on the 9th mean for the Edinburgh Fringe, and I guess the International and Film Festivals too? If social distancing has gone can they sell tickets for all the spaces left empty so far? Will venues with two or four people bubble policies drop them? Or at least, will capacity numbers be increased? Interested parties, Fringers and Fringees, want to know!

Ah well, that time again. Bon nuit!

Heeeere’s August!

July did seem awfully short but at least it was toasty. Now as the first of the new month ebbs away, I’m wondering how the Fringe got so close without me organising any tickets?! Maybe its the complete lack of large posters everywhere? No programmes lying around the place to be marked up, cut up, saved for best? The town is busying up now but it feels more like a June rather than nearly Fringe time.

I have been looking at the In Person shows on the Fringe website and some ideas jotted down. Interestingly I noticed this evening that Barry Ferns isn’t down as doing the whole Fringe run now, but from the 20th until the end. Did he have second thoughts about his knees handling a full run? I really wouldn’t blame him. And John-Luke Roberts in the programme with another show than the one at the Monkey Barrel, he’s bringing back his Terrible Wonderful Adaptations for two nights at the Assembly Roxy. He’s more like an MC, ringmaster of the bizarre and absurd, in TWA so I’ll pass as I’m seeing him elsewhere, and it is £12 a ticket. That money may be spent instead seeing Watson: The Final Solution, also on at the Assembly Roxy.

I have to be very wise with my money this year, what with no three days of cheap previews, no Assembly locals’ ticket offer, no Half Price Hut (ok, I am just assuming there won’t be an equivalent this year). My Fringe fund has never seemed so finite before! Do enough staring at screens these days, so I’m determined to see mainly live shows, there may be a few tantalising nuggets online, but as I’ve always said, “If the rest of the world wants to turn on my doorstep to entertain me – who am I to say no?!” Ergo, the shows on my doorstep get first dibs over flat screen offerings.

So far theSpace venues have a number of shows that interest me and as most shows are just doing short runs this year I’d best get on and book some tickets. Oh, and there’s booking fees to add in, £1.25 per ticket, up to £5 per transaction; I need to book enough at a time to make it worth it.

Ho hum. Maybe I should buff up my ukulele playing and try busking for some extra pennies – most likely thrown to make me stop! I must bid you all good night, it’s rather late now.

Good night, dear hearts 💛

It’s hot in the city!

To quote Billy Idol, it’s hot in the city tonight, one more day of gloriousness, then, here comes the rain again, along with cooler temperatures. Will it improve again by the start of the Fringe? Hope so, I fully intend to start my Fringe atop Arthur’s Seat watching Barry Ferns – as long as it’s not wet. It’s been so nice for so long now, and with restrictions on holidays to hotter climes chopping and changing so much, Portobello beach hasn’t been this busy in years; the eateries along the Prom are doing excellent business.

I’ve been noticing on my walks in the Park that it looks like being a bumper year for cherries, yay. This evening as I walked off my tea I realised the somewhat screechy birds way up high were swifts; I knew that they were around at that time of the evening but I’ve never heard them like that before. There were quite a number of them having fun swooping around, chasing each other. A good excuse for me to pause awhile and just enjoy the spectacle overhead.

My tea? A lamb hotpot pie courtesy of Brewsters along with lots of steamed broccoli and carrots. Brewsters pies are very nice, they started doing chicken pies and now there’s occasionally lamb hotpot, steak and ale or steak and kidney, all very tasty with perfect pastry and no scrimping on the meat content. Tonight I washed it down with a bottle of ginger beer, also bought at the Farmer’s Market. Slim Hat are a new venture by a young couple living in the Old Town, this truly is a local product! It is as the label says, an authentic ginger beer, with a good kick to it, I wish them well.

Alas, anyone thinking of buying some at the Farmer’s Market to take into a show at MultiStory will be disappointed as there’ll be strict rules in place that no food or drink may be taken on to the site. This did make me wonder when I read it, as many carry water bottles round with them during the Fringe usually – will these too be banned? Seems harsh. Not that it will probably bother me as I most likely won’t be in there, being a solo Fringer (see my last post), nor am I likely to be seeing any shows at the Gilded Balloon this year as the same silly two or four bubble policy is in place. Mind, I’m not that bother at the moment as a cursory glance over their shows so far didn’t turn up anything I fancied.

I do hope the other venues don’t have similar policies, I would like to see some real live shows! Oo, I do have one show booked! It’s not actually through the Fringe website, but, as it’s John-Luke Roberts at the Monkey Barrel Comedy Club in August I’m counting it as Fringe. I have done some perusing of the Fringe programme online but it really isn’t as enjoyable as going through a physical paper one. I do hope they go back to a physical programme next year, it’s much more agreeable and I get to keep a copy as souvenir and reference book.

Well, it’s very late now, so I should be toddling off to my bed. I shall leave you with another selection of recent photos, enjoy!

Sunset captured on a gallivant along the East Lothian coast.
Okay, so I may have tinkered with this a bit! I had The Twilight Zone by Rush going through my head at the time.

Old, posh, rather batty – no, not me!

Another cracking day here in Edinburgh, I’ve been lazying in the Park just sunning myself and reading. It’s a rather good book, Lady in Waiting, the autobiography of one Anne Glenconner. You may well not be familiar with the name, I wasn’t, and then my friend who was lending the book to me said, “You remember her, she was on the Graham Norton Show. Old, posh, rather batty, very funny. Princess Margaret’s chum, husband bought Mustique?!” Ah yes, her. Definitely wanted to know more – well I’m finding out an awful lot!! What a life she’s led, what a character, surrounded by characters. Okay so maybe some of it maybe embellished, who cares, it’s a great read. If you remember her from the show and like me went Oo and then forgot about her, get the paperback!

Today was so gorgeous here that the shallow pools by the parliament building had a number of small kids splashing about in them and obviously not an impromptu splash for many as they had swimwear on. Not sure if the architect of the Scottish Parliament had paddling pools in mind when he designed the foreground landscape!?

In other news, the Edinburgh Fringe programme is starting to fill out nicely, with more shows being added to the website today (that’s http://www.edfringe.com). There’s another twenty real physical venues added, one Online added, three more outdoor meeting places and, yay, the West End Fair will be back in physical form! Always a good place to look for unusual Christmas presents, and maybe a treat for oneself. Be warned though, some only take stalls for a week rather than the full three weeks, if I want to ponder on a purchase I’ll always check how long they’ll be around.

Sone rather disappointing news about MultiStory, the new festival hub being set up at the NCP carpark on Castle Terrace (a multi-storey carpark going down on to King Stables Road, geddit?). Apparently no single tickets are being sold! I hadn’t picked up on this until I saw a comment on Facebook raising the issue. The reply from the Gilded Balloon said, “Unfortunately, due to government restrictions tickets are only available in groups of 2 or 4. If availability allows, we’ll release some single tickets closer to the show dates. If any single tickets are released, we’ll announce it on social media.” Erm, I think they mean if a show isn’t selling, shows no signs of selling many tickets, they’ll make a quick, late on,splash announcement to entice more in, anyone’ll do.

Of course, it also means three friends can’t go together, either one drops out or they pay for four tickets, or they don’t bother and instead buy one ticket for another show that’s online and with the leftover money get a few drinks in. I’m not sure why the current government restrictions won’t allow single tickets to be sold though, especially since they may be sold later?! Maybe just easier for their booking system, perhaps? To be honest, as yet I’m not too bothered, the few shows they’ve so far announced don’t appeal to me, but I feel for the lady who raised the point on Facebook. Solo travellers unite – at least with one or three other people!

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from a clamber in the Park few days ago and one from the other evening when I went out to Cramond. Toodle pip!

Cramond causeway – the Toblerone-inspired design ensured that only the fittest should make it across to the island, the passage of time and tides had made the task even more of a challenge.