Ah, the Festival – to explain – includes the Fringe which once upon a time was just the delinquent offspring of the official Festival, a mere side/freakshow who grew and grew and ended up eating its own parent. Nowadays The Fringe is the thing with the ‘Official’ pretty much sidelined. As a native Edinburgher I’ve seen all the different trends and incarnations. Back in the day the Fringe was a great way of swotting for English exams by having the chance to see various productions of Shakespeare and the classics – some more ‘experimental’ than others – for just a couple of quid. In those day there was a heck of a lot of nudity as well which I guess was good for higher biology. Into the nineties when comedy became the new rock n roll, the Fringe in effect turned into a huge comedy festival with prices inflating along with egos. Keeping your ear to the ground though it was entirely possible to see the big names of tomorrow – The Mighty Boosh, League of Gentlemen, Vic & Bob, Steve Coogan and so on.
Wonderful, what’s not to like? Well… I won’t lie to you – people in Edinburgh do get mightily pissed off at this time of year: It takes twice as long to get anywhere, crowds of post-pubescent children (well, they seem that way) stick endless flyers in your face if you dare go anywhere near the Royal Mile, you daren’t go anywhere near the Royal Mile, you get sick of tripping over ‘faces off the telly’ pretending they don’t want to be recognised when actually they do. You get sick of jokes about how people from Edinburgh hate the Festival/don’t go to the Festival/rent out their homes for ridiculous sums of money. But….what’s this? Things have to change, right? And I really believe the Fringe has done just that – mainly through the rise of the Free Fringe. Hopefully this little blighter is going to take on the mantle of its now bloated ‘punk of yesteryear’ daddy. I will be throwing myself into the FF and will be giving reviews and tips right here so keep checking. In the meantime here’s the first instalment of my Festival diary.
Thurs, 1st Aug.
Fringe officially starts on Saturday but a few shows are pitching their tents early. Was on a bus going down North Bridge, all bus stops closed due to an ‘ongoing incident’ at The Scotsman Hotel. Turns out it was some kind of ‘chemical incident’ involving the death of two people thought to be Russian, thought to be a suicide pact. Edinburgh is all a twitter with thoughts of Litvinenko-type murders and shock at how this could happen at a five star hotel (four star would have been OK… ?) Went to The Jolly for a pizza and vino. Wandered through the Cowgate and past the Three Slappers (aka The Three Sisters) – was mobbed as usual, God knows what it’ll be like come Saturday. The Underbelly venue seems to have some kind of cowshed drinking den complete with hay-bales going on. Can see that ending in tears and bits of straw in unwanted places… Sore feet and losing the will to live ended up in Ventoux for a bottle of lager bier hell and a flat white (trust me!). Revmulvey speaking not much louder than usual but people at next table seem to think he’s a Fringe act. Got last bus home.