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!

Y’know, 2020 wasn’t all bad….

Saw yet another strand of tinsel as I downward dogged this morning, that’ll be the twelfth since my last blog post! It lay there glinting mockingly at me, bold as brass it was, well not any more. Oh, and we didn’t get the promised snow, so I closed the curtain again and went back to bed. There has been more snow outside of Edinburgh but nothing in the city, just freezing temperatures.

Listening to the news, it’s sounding like we’ll be lucky if we can do anything at Easter nevermind Mothering Sunday here in the UK. That’ll be another of my annual trips to the old country cancelled, I’ll have forgotten the way down soon! Yeah, 2021 isn’t looking that much better than 2020 so far. How depressing! So, to brighten the mood I decided to look back through 2020 and find my highlights, surely there were some?!

First off, Esther – our wee beastie o’the loch. I reckon she’ll be a highlight for a few Edinburgh folks grateful for the distraction. It’s been so good to watch this beautiful wild creature so close by. Hopefully she’ll be okay after all the recent weather, Dunsapie Loch has been frozen over a fair bit this last month. From otters to rabbits….

Way back last January I went to Jojo Rabbit three times at the cinema. Those were days, open cinemas, me with my unlimited card going to see two films in one evening, Nando’s chicken wings in between (will Cineworld reopen at all now?). Jojo Rabbit is such an outstanding film and a proper cinema film too. God, I miss going to the cinema, that sense of occasion (as a young moose a trip to the cinema was an event, that feeling has never quite left). The whole cast of Jojo were brilliant and Taika Waititi cemented his place as my favourite director and all-round amazing film person.

Thinking about it, I guess all that time spent in Holyrood Park, walking around, lying in sunny nooks reading, that was pretty special. We did have long spells of great weather in 2020, I did most of my reading outdoors. Highlights bookwise, finally reading Errol Flynn’s autobiography (an amazing glimpse at another time and place) and John Robertson’s The Little Town of Marrowville, I expected it to be good and darkly humorous but wow, it exceeded all my expectations! Yes it’s a kid’s book, but it’s a damn fine one.

Not Eurovision 2020 was a day of Eurovision treats for the fans on radio and tv. In the evening Graham Norton guided us through the main Not Eurovision Show, which just felt like one big love-in around the world (as Australia is now in it, yes I make that around the world). I thoroughly enjoyed a day of reminiscing, music, dancing, oh, and prosecco with pear juice.

2020, a shorter but sweetest year yet for Strictly Come Dancing. Bill Bailey with Oti was a worthy winner, confounding the initial assumptions of so many viewers with his capacity to learn and ability to dance. Their routine to Rapper’s Delight will go down in Strictly history. I learnt you could video chat on WhatsApp in November – yeah, Strictly brings out that need to share!

Fringey goodness was found online. April and May saw the magnificent Will Seaward online re-telling his Spooky Ghost Stories sometimes with live accompaniment courtesy of Jam With Humans. Yes, it was back in the early lockdown days, things went a bit wonky, not always online just somewhere in the vicinity, but no matter, it was great to see the maestro weaving his wondrous tales again.

The nearing of the NonFringe saw me checking to see what the Sleeping Trees were up to, if anything. Oh bugger! I’d missed getting to see MAFIA? by about ten days! Joys, I did get see SCI-FI? again. So is there a recording of WESTERN? somewhere? I’d love to see that again. Pretty please?! I could read MAFIA? by purchasing a copy the recently published Sleeping Trees at The Movies – Blueprints for Devised Comedy, but it just wouldn’t be the same as seeing it. But the best was yet to come – a Christmas Living Room Adventure! Oh yay, The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington was the highlight of my Christmas, yes, even above my Christmas Lunch Roll! That first sighting of the great white whale will stay with me forever.

Anything else, Brucie? Well, there was the small matter of Logan’s Close at the Caves for the release of their latest opus Lost In You at the end of February, like, a truly epic night! Best I’ve seen them yet; there was a gig planned for the end of this month but it has, of course, been cancelled. Lead guitarist and singer Carl Marah took to singing Bob Dylan to his washing machine in April, strange behaviour but captivatingly beautiful.

My top highlight of 2020? The Close’s Lockdown Cover of Fantastic Man by William Onyeabor. Having since put the original on one of my Spotify playlists, I love what the lads did with it even more; they’ve taken the best parts, condensed and Closified it into a summer classic of their own. Their video is rather fine too, and usually if I leave YouTube running afterwards it goes to a film of roller dancers skating to the original with some seriously cool moves (yes, I’ve watched both plenty of times after I’ve done online exercises – hey, its good cool down music).

So, wow, 2020 wasn’t all bad, and I did two seasons of Preacher and three of Lucifer, plus my uke playing is slowly coming on. Dear reader, I hope you too can look back and recognise your own highlights of 2020, to paraphrase Aidan Goatley, What made you happy in 2020?

Toodle pip!

Not the last night of Fringe 2020

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

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

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

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

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

20180827_220059Something’s afoot at the Castle

Oooo! Ahhh!20180827_220205

The dark truth of the Fringe……

20180829_220302

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

 

….meanwhile in lockdown

Kia ora, dudes! Day Whatever of lockdown. Today I’ve come to a decision to be more impetuous! Yeah, I know you all see me as a carefree, live for the moment kinda moose, but not really. I may not post that often but that’s because I put it off to do other stuff (like faffing, watching telly, surfing YouTube and occasionally some cleaning). My table is covered in bits of notes for blogging ideas that I haven’t got round to writing; when something grabs me I don’t rush to share it, my head goes, No, take a note, think about it, write it up later. Needless to say, impetus lost, I don’t. Listen Head, shut up, if ever there was a time for some impetuosity it’s now. There’s nothing that needs to be done that can’t wait. That picture taken on a walk? Share it! Great vids on YouTube, resurfaced memories, Fringe friends up to stuff? Don’t write a note, write a blog post!

A few notes lying around – Jäähyväiset! (I think that’s farewell in Finish), a voodoo octopus, lamb with anchovies – dauphinoise potatoes, The Trap Pleasance Over the Road 2, Jam With Humans, Will Hay, zombiesaur. Guess the ones relating to Will Seaward! I’ll get back to those later 😂😂 See? Did it again.

Today a Facebook friend shared an episode from 60 Second Docs by an artist Mike Bennett from Portland, Oregon who makes great pieces of cartoon art from recycled wood and paints then sets them free into the wild! Well, he puts them out for people to enjoy and raise spirits. He’s raised money for local charities with his artwork, a really nice guy. The artwork is quite Seussical, not in style but in flavour, mischievousness and joie de vivre. Check it out!

Another share (obviously up rather earlier than me) was a brilliant video by Tusk Puppets for the New Zealand Police Facebook page. Hmmm, the NZ Police page has good stuff, some great kiwi humour on there to brighten up lockdown. And bubbles! I haven’t heard mention of bubbles here in the UK, I love the concept, bubbles, it’s a cheery word, not all doom and gloom. Yes, I feel more content now, visualising my bubble around me, gonna float along next time I’m oot. Anyway, Tusk Puppets have written and performed a great little number called “One day I’ll go outside again”, it quite rocks out towards the end!

From there I wandered through the New Zealand Police and Tusk Puppets Facebook pages (my tablet sneakily changes Tusk into Rusk, it just tried to do it that time too😄) where I found a video of a lovely lady tap-dancing with a puppet from Tusk, oh my, impressive! (makes me wish I’d kept up my own tap-dancing from my youth).

Whilst I’ve been tapping away, my friend has also shared a vid by the lovely Carl Marah of Logan’s Close. He’s singing a Bob Dylan cover to his washing machine, I think he may be taking lockdown hard!

Well, I suppose I should head out for my daily trot around the park. It’s great how many people are there everyday now and not just at the weekend, yes, there are quite a few folk out but everyone seems to be generally adhering to social distancing rules. Guess we’ve all been appreciative of the lovely sunny weather we’ve been having recently (yes, that’s right, lovely sunny weather in Edinburgh, Scotland) and that we have an awesome piece of rugged parkland close by the Southside.

I shall leave with another artwork of Edinburgh in smithereens by Pete Standen. Oh, and I’ll stick a piece of graffiti I came across on a walk last week (yes, something I’ve sat on to use later), look twice, there’s something really quite sweet there!

20200408_144805

 

 

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!

 

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!

20190826_084222.jpg

 

Oh, my giddy aunt!

I can’t believe I haven’t yet given a mention to Russian Roulette, how remiss of me! Yes, they’re back again, the new, improved version, well, it’s an upright roulette wheel, more visual I guess. No longer down in the hidden warren in La Belle Angele, Russian Roulette are in the Balcony room at Gilded Balloon Teviot at 10.15pm (which gives Mr Seaward just forty five minutes before he’s back on stage for more Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories!). Be warned, it is a tad warm in there, grab a cold drink to take in with you.

The evening I went Crime And Punishment was taken for a spin. The play begins as normal, then the horn sounds, the wheel is spun and things get odd! The number landed on dictates how the play progresses – there are thirty seven bizarre ways to proceed with titles like Borscht Surprise, Beard Ban and I’m Stuffed, luckily, our host Will Seaward is on hand to explain what each means to our unfortunate actors. Our brilliant ensemble have to battle on through the play never knowing when the horn may sound again to add more confusion to the plot.

Yes, this is as bonkers as it sounds and more!! Our players are most excellent, a seriously talented troupe. Really, you will laugh your socks off! Oh, and the lovely Mr Sullivan Brown is usually flyering near Bristo Square before the show, do go say hello.

Toodle pip!

I need some beauty sleep!

Crikey, it’s way past bedtime, I’ve got work in the morning, oh and the neighbours have just started arguing, joys! Here’s me needing my bed and Will Seaward will have just begun his midnight show, Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories VI once again in the Dining Room at the Gilded Balloon Teviot. Yes, there’s more spooky shenanigans going on, and yay, there’s the return of Louloulou and her boyfriend (whose name escapes me just now) in one of the stories. This is definitely not a show for everyone, but if you like bonkers, daft, eloquently told yarns then it may just suit!

Oo yeah, last Friday night at 22.55 I saw The Slinks in Dexter at the Underbelly Bristo Square; a show sure to divide opinion and bewilder – I’m not what I witnessed but it was whimsical, disturbing, mesmerising, kooky. Hugo Hamlet’s voice was sublime, very much reminding me of early Lou Reed. I have a friend who would so totally love this show, alas I doubt she could ever manage to stay up so late, pity.

Also a pity was the lack of audience, there was myself, two others and a couple of staff sat in. I guess the late time slot and the fact that they’re not listed in the paper-form Fringe Programme, just on the online version, may be contributing factors. If you fancy a trip to another realm one night The Slinks can take you there!

Toodle pip!

 

The party’s over 😭

Give me a few days to tidy all the mess of the last month, wash all the washing up, catch up with work in work and sleep in bed, much, much sleep in bed!!

To tide you over, here’s a few pics of the final furlong and if you have a look on Facebook (Bruce T. Moose) I arranged for an old friend to sing a farewell song to Fringe 2018 😉

 

20180829_220302

One last show to desperately advertise or how they felt by the last night?!

20180829_224358

Psychedelia at the Pleasance Dome

20180828_014823

Will Seaward in full scary mode intent on scaring the bejesus out of all who dare entire his domain!

Who needs a good bear, when you have Camels?

Ok, so I mentioned in So long, farewell, ta-ra, toodle pip! three shows I’ve seen but hadn’t mentioned before, well, they’ve gone now anyway! Bloody good shows they were too!

What of all the other shows you’ve seen, Brucie, I hear you ask (mooses have very good hearing), and you said you’d tell us more about the early shows?! Yes, I know, but it’s hard in the madness that is Fringe to keep all one’s plates spinning. So I’ll press on and rundown my shows til I had to depart Edinburgh on my mission of mercy.

Preview Friday I managed six shows, yup, six, but that was from ten in the morning ’til one the following morning! The Shakespeare For Breakfast crew were on top form again!! I was surprised how many seats were left, hopefully they’re now selling out with their excellent modern twist on The Taming of The Shrew. A great start to my day!

Next up, new to me Camels, which excitingly was in part of the all-new singing, dancing underneath of McEwan Hall; very modern and entered via the blob thing in Teviot Square. Oo these chaps are good, recalling my Seeing double post from last year, this comedy duo make up for a lack of Goodbear this year! Tom Neenan’s: It’s Always Infinity was another corker from him (maybe not quite to the heights of last year’s Attenborough) it took a wee while to pull me in, but by the end, with the by-then obvious punchline in sight, the audience were all sitting cosily in the palm of Tom’s hand. What a piece of genius writing, long may he grace the Fringe with his wit and style! I did spot, though it took me a while, that the chap in the video clips was non other that David Reed from the Penny Dreadfuls (as is Thom Tuck).

Next up was a show in a big blue box, from Switzerland, umm, the humour just didn’t translate for me, and I’m going to leave that one at that. I recovered myself with a curry at the Mosque Kitchen for tea, first visit this Fringe and it won’t be the last; good, quick, tasty grub. I finished my day at the Gilded Balloon with first the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre: Superheroes, finishing with the wonderful Will Seaward now telling his ghostly tales in the Dining Room. The SFSPT:S was good but having seen plenty of trial bits previously on their Facebook page, I think some of the dumped bits were better. If you hadn’t seen them, then the show is perfectly fine with plenty of laughs and groans, and some rather obscurer fanboy jokes. Then the clock struck twelve and it was Will Time!! Nuff said really, another late hour of terrifying tales and howling horrors but in a bigger room this year!

And then it was home to bed! Well, it’s time for me to maybe venture oot into the rain. It’s been chucking down all day, hence my catching up here. Time to book a few more shows, methinks.

Toodle pip!