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!

As nightmares go, it was rather a fine one!

Yay! I finally made it in to see David Alnwick’s Nightmare Magic, it’s rather good. This show is as much about the storyline as the magic tricks, they’re all a part of the story as it unfolds. Towards the end I did lose the thread a bit, but there’s a good chance that was part of his plan to bamboozle us and wrest rational thoughts from our minds; it worked if it was! David Alnwick is a good storyteller with a quiet confidence in his tone, can I coin his talent as “sleight of voice”? He would ratchet up the tension and diffuse It effortlessly. And the ending was delivered as a throwaway, just brilliant!

I’ve noticed there’s a fair number of magic acts this year, maybe there’s always be this many but they’re more noticeable as there’s so much less of everything else. There’s certainly a demand, David is now doing Nightmare Magic twice a night now until the 29th.I have seen another production involving young actors at a theSpace venue, but as it suffers like other younger shows I’m not going to bother naming and shaming it.

Is it the effects of the last eighteen months that the younger contingent of the Fringe haven’t impressed me; or, in a normal Fringe year with much more choice would my fringedar have automatically picked better shows? Who can say? But bravo to all those who have come and given it a shot this year. I hope they get a chance to come back another year. Mind, I would be happy if the Fringe didn’t go back to how it was in 2019, way too big. There’s big and then there’s just too much! From selling out almost every show this year, the newbies could be sadly disillusioned by numbers from a return to 2019 levels in a second year here.

This is an odd year – as I keep mentioning! I went out late last night because The Kennedy’s Project were playing at Stramash again, this time after midnight. I went for a stroll about to revive myself (I could have easily just gone to bed), it looked like the Pleasance Courtyard were closing up, no throngs of people around the Teviot area, of course no Potterrow this year, just a few still sitting out in the Underbelly garden in Bristo Square. The Cowgate is sooo quiet compared previous Augusts. Stramash was fairly quiet too but it sure picked up when the band came on. Different lead guitarist this time, he didn’t do any singing so it all fell on the other guy. Another great night, the crowd loved them, I suspect they’ll now be regulars there. My, it’s been a while since I last got in at almost three in the morning!

I shall leave you with an Eggs Benedict update. I was going to go to Em’s Kitchen but there was a queue waiting to go in! Er, no, so I went up on the Royal Mile, left or right? I knew everything on offer left so I turned right and headed down the hill. Not far down on the left-hand side there’s a cafe called Luscious, some how it’s never caught my attention before, I crossed over to check out the menu, oh yay! Went in, no menu perusing necessary, thanks, Eggs Benedict and a latte, please. And here it is, pure and simple, just an slice of tomato with it. Perfection on a plate and in my tummy 💛

A Fringe beyond zero

Alas, I didn’t get to see The Flop: A Band of Idiots last night and it was their last night, unless, like many things in this fluctuating Fringe, they decide to do more shows (pretty please?!) Nah, it’s unlikely, at least I have the third Private to see today, Christian Brighty: Playboy. Its like a minibusload of absurdists came up for a week and now they’re all packed ready to head back south just as soon as Christian has taken his bow and said his thank yous. Him and his stuff will be bundled into the bus and with ringmaster, Dan Lees at the wheel, they’ll be gone. Imagine if the outside of the minibus reflected the minds of those inside?!

I had been intending to head to Stramash after the show, wow, drinking and dancing in a no doubt busy room, a blast from the past. How would Stramash be now? Well, it was weird going to the bar, rather than six deep around it, there were two queues stretching across the room. To folk entering it wasn’t immediately obvious so they’d head straight to the open space at the bar, then they’d kinda look round at us, it would click that we were stood in a line, “Er, is this a queue for the bar?”,”Yup!” and they’d head the other way to find the back of it. God, it was interminably slow. Now Stramash has an upstairs balcony area that I’ve rarely been in, I was pretty certain there was a bar up there but not 100% certain, striking up a conversation with a chap alongside me in the other queue I ascertained yes, there was a bar upstairs but the queue was even worse up there, that’s why he was queuing where he was. Considering how quickly my drink (a pint of Holyrood Pale Ale, very nice) was bought and paid for, I don’t understand why it took around twenty minutes to get it! It looks like Stramash has gone cashless, everyone was paying by contactless or their phones, so no fumbling around for cash and change.

It was busy but the doormen were making sure everyone was using the CheckIn Scotland app on entry. I guess its become another habit for some, click in and mask up. I did notice a few folk keeping their masks on awhile once inside, like they couldn’t really believe it was okay to remove them. It is a bit confusing, different places have different rules, many folk I think keep masks on until they’re pretty its ok to remove them. Some Fringe venues are fine with unmasking during performances, well, if there’s a bar many will have brought a drink in. Some venues do make an announcement asking that folk stay masked (half then have to put their masks back on), yes, it’s confusing.

Assembly Roxy has attendants at the door to enquire the size of your bubble and then lead people to appropriate seating. Similar was done at Monkey Barrel Comedy Club; they also have a temperature scanner there (only one I’ve seen so far) and they administer a squish of hand sanitiser to everyone who enters. Many venues certainly started the Fringe with seating spread out in groups of twos and fours, I wonder if some have made the spaces between smaller now to accommodate more seats; certainly some venues now have the usual rows of seats. Some folk do look uncomfortable when strangers sit right next to them, but as the In Person shows are selling out a fair bit, it happens, are they thinking “would it look insulting if I put my mask back on?”?

So, back at Stramash, pint in hand I found a good spot to watch the band come on for the second spot, a band called The Kennedy’s Project. I almost spilled my drink – it was the band from Waverley Bridge! It was great to see them indoors in a proper venue and, my, they were good, really good. As usual both the rhythm and lead guitarists shared out the vocal duties, as their voices suit very different songs it works well across the songs they cover. The crowd (and me too) loved them, plenty were on their feet dancing. Highlights for me were Hound Dog, Bring it on Home To Me and, as awesome as the last time, Minnie the Moocher. My, that guitarist was hot, growling out the words, hotter than Idris Elba even!

💛

If you just stumbled accidently upon this blog post and have enjoyed it, I always post a link on Facebook, I’m Bruce T Moose. New friends and followers always welcome (and no, the T isn’t for The).

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!