Fireworks ignite old volcano

Oh, every year I have this image of the fireworks getting bigger and bigger until everyone realises it’s the volcano reactivating spewing molten rocks into the air and lava flows down the Royal Mile.

So only one show to go, Will Seaward’s spooky midnight ghost stories one more time, and maybe a pop into the Pleasance Courtyard on the way!

Toodle pip!

The Squirrel Show

Back as a young student my friends and I would explore the pubs of Edinburgh and occasionally even speak to the locals, this one particular group of lads were noteable by their pronunciation of my friend’s name, “No, it’s Philippa”,”Yeah, Phulupuh”, “No, you’re saying Phulupuh”, “Yeah, that’s what you’re saying”,”No we’re saying Phil e pah, not Phulupuh”, and so it went on and on. We also noticed that here girls were girruls and films were fillums, oh, and in Chippies we had to say very quickly if we didn’t want sa’n’sauce on our chips as they were usually putting it on as they asked.

On a few years and I realised if someone was talking about Dawn, they were probably talking about Don. It did explain a few things about the stories I’d heard about her/him. Then with Bud there was the long-running “khaki/car key” debate, apparently I say it like “car key” which is not the same as “khaki” at all according to Bud, who, of course, was always supposedly correct.

So the Squirrel Show was water off a duck’s back to me, been there, done that and got the t-shirt. I had no idea what the Squirrel Show was, but I saw it mentioned on Facebook that Mark Steel, Will Seaward and John-Luke Roberts were appearing, among many others, and it was a one-off for charity, hey ho, why not?

The whole premise is to help the comedian Chris Coltrane to say “squirrel” properly instead of “squirle”, one audience member went down the Sesame Street route, patiently separating the syllables to join them again, bet she’s a teacher. Some audience members were almost apoplectic (I really couldn’t decide if they were plants to keep it going), and all the other comedians were not helping the situation. John-Luke Roberts was surreal as ever, rushing the stage and dancing every time Walking On Sunshine came on, I did miss the first five minutes but I doubt there was any explanation there. Will tried his best to tell the tale of Big Squirrel and Little Squirrel while being heckled. And, wow, they had Mark Steel to headline, as you would expect he gave a funny but insightful monologue, pure genius!

Apparently, this has been going a few years now. Well worth catching next year, unless mispronunciations drive you insane, on the other hand, it would be fun to take along that friend who’s always correcting others – just light the blue touchpaper and stand well back!

The bastard lovechild of Brian Blessed

So did that get your attention? This is a man who attempted alchemy to make gold, when that didn’t succeed he tried to become a supervillain, eyepatch and all, and now, still with gold in mind, this year he’s back in Edinburgh recruiting for an expedition to find El Dorado. He also lures innocents into the Gilded Room at midnight to scare the bejesus out of them with ghostly tales – it’s not called the Wee Room for nothing!

I am, of course, referring to the wonderful Will Seaward, a veteran of the Fringe. A most eloquent and exuberant fellow, full of mirth and wisdom. As when he did Alchemy, this year’s afternoon show (15.30, Heroes @ the Hive, Niddry Street) Will Seaward Goes to El Dorado, has been well researched so there’s plenty of learning with the hoots of laughter. Who knew there’d been so many attempts to find El Dorado? Who knew the Vatican may well know where it is? Who knew so many thousands died looking? And so many dangerous creatures waiting to pounce on you along the way? And he’s so jolly about how evil (but cool) most explorers were – still a touch of the supervillain there, perhaps?! I was enthused and stoked enough to sign up but I’d probably end up doing all the donkey work (I’m an educated moose, you know), no, plus this moose would find the Amazon a tad hot.

As I mentioned, Will also has a midnight show at the Gilded Balloon telling Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories (part IV). To be honest you’re more likely to pee yourself laughing than from fright. This is a gloriously silly show, though at times through the narration I noticed how hushed we’d all become as we lapped up every word, only to burst into hoots of laughter again a second later!

He is, as I would say, sooo fringe, definitely worth a punt on one or both shows, you may end up on an expedition to El Dorado! But could Will succeed in finding El Dorado, I point you to the heading, he is the bastard love child of Brian Blessed, an intrepid explorer who’s climbed mountains, gone to the North Pole AND he’s been on an expedition to the jungles of Venezuela, hmmm.



A wee rant about the last night of the Fringe

I was going to bring this up sooner or later, and tonight’s the night. You may be aware that the Fringe started seventy years ago when a few uninvited companies decided to turn up in Edinburgh when the Edinburgh International Festival was on and they put their shows on anywhere they could on the fringe of it, and the rest as they say is history.

Well up until two years ago there was a big fireworks display after both the International and Fringe festivals had finished and most had gone home. It almost felt like a thank you to the good folk of Edinburgh for putting up with the hullabaloo of August. The day had moved a few times over the years but for quite sometime was nicely ensconced on the Sunday after the Fringe finished. Tickets are sold for people to sit in Princes Street Gardens or you can stand in the streets to watch forty five minutes of fireworks to the music of the Scottish  Chamber Orchestra.

For years my Fringe buddy and I had our spot in the Gardens, and many of the folk around us came back to their same spots, we all chatted about how our years had been, had our picnics, then settled back for the fireworks. Champagne corks could be heard going off all over the place, down from us one group always marked where they were with a large red umbrella with white hankies tied to it. Of course, to be sure of our spot at least one of us would queue for around two hours then hurtle along with camping chairs. It was a great tradition and we loved it, a beautiful setting, perfect view, orchestral music and the sheer power of the blasts of the fireworks, magnificent!!

Then they introduced Priority tickets, where they would be allowed in the Gardens half an hour before the other ticket holders. Now when this was brought in, space in the park was already getting squeezed because, well, trees grow and spread, so many parts that had previously been fine were no longer fine, people were having to move when they realised they could no longer look up and see sky. As people competed for smaller areas it meant many felt compelled to pay the extra money. Grrrr!! Boo Virgin bloody Money!

Now at this point I should also point out the August Bank Holiday is not a bank holiday in Scotland, for most it is just another working day, so when, two years ago they announced it was being moved to the Bank Holiday Monday, let me assure you many of the locals were NOT happy! It was no longer a leisurely afterthought when the city was more peaceful again, just another thing to be rushed.

So I was peed off at the changing of the day but, but, AAARRGH it’s the last day of the Fringe!!! I also like to finish the Fringe on a high, as I’m sure all the shows that are still on until the final Monday night would like to as well! Now the poor blighters have to compete with a huge fireworks display. The end of the Fringe fizzles out as it is, some shows finish on the Saturday,  some on the Sunday, just the diehards carry on until the very end, valiantly flyering anyone around to see their last show (that is how I met the magnificent Will Seaward four years, but more about him next time).

Two years ago I did go back to the Gardens with a different friend and just sat in a random spot. I took a wander up to where I had previously always sat to find that none of the other regulars were there either, quite sad really. Afterwards we went to see Will at midnight to finish the Fringe properly. Last year I went to shows then just popped on to the top of the Mound to watch the fireworks before heading off to more Fringe bars and William’s spooky storytelling.

It was the end of an era, the end of my love affair with the Fireworks. I will probably always wander along and stand to watch at least some of it, but as with many lovely things a big money-grabbing organisation came along and took away the joy. But I’ll always have the memory of the wine, the strawberries, the music and the big bangs.