Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Edinburgh 3 - Ohhh... THAT'S how you have a good Fringe!

OK, first thing's first - I need to fulfill the promises laid out in the last blog. Last week I was having a drink in the Pleasance courtyard when a girl approached me asking me if I would pretend to be called Richard. It transpired that she had seen my show the day before and needed me to gatecrash a show compered by Mark Watson involving an 'Olympics' of fun with Richard Herring, David O' Docherty and Al Pitcher representing England, Ireland and New Zealand respectively. Not one to turn down a bit of fun, minutes later I found myself in her assembled gang of 'Richards' as she attempted to find more of them than other contestants could find Als or Davids. Make sense? I hope so. Anyway, the one problem with this is that all the acts on the bill knew me. This led to minor hilarity in the room when messrs Pitcher and O'Docherty staged a sit-in protest at this obvious subterfuge. The girl in question pleaded that even though I wasn't called Richard I was famous. Herring (The man I was trying to help) declared that I wasn't exactly that famous, except for in Hitchin. He had a point. Several members of the audience came to my show the next day. It was thus worth it, in my opinion and one of those 'only at Edinburgh' moments that make the Fringe, for me at least, special.

My annual drunken evening with Anna Keirle was (as usual) unplanned but delightful. I bumped into her in The Loft Bar at a time when we were both well on the way to be honest. Amongst other things she informed me that I was to be honorarily enrolled into the order of The Blue Blazer, it being a pub specialising in rum at the wrong end of Grassmarket. Working on the basis that I have only ever really got stuck in to the booze there on one previous occasion, I consider it an honour and a privilege. I'm going to try and get there before the end of the week, obviously.

The other day I was stumbling down Canongate in the now more regular rain when I saw this sign for the third year in succession and finally did something about it:

Of course! An entire shop dedicated to Princess Diana memorial tartan! It's what every  Scottish town needs!
It's what she would have wanted.

My mate Trevor Lock is having a tricky festival, in all truth. His venue is not ideal for him, his show is ticketed and the resultant small audiences have left him a little down in the dumps and also pushed a couple of reviewers to label his show weak. It's not. It's great. I dealt with reviewers in the last blog so I'm not going to bring this up again but suffice to say I think they're wrong. I saw the show a couple of nights ago and it's really funny. The "Best gag of the fringe" has just been awarded to Stewart Francis. Don't get me wrong - he's a great comic and it's an OK joke (As I admitted when interviewed on BBC 3Counties radio today) but I don't think it's as good as a throwaway line in Trevor's show which reads simply

"Now I'm no scientist, but I do look good in a catsuit"

It nearly made me spill my over-priced can of unpleasant lager (the only real offering in the venue that didn't make me wince on sight). Go and see him if you get the chance. He's not like other guys.

Trevor looking a little less keen on this handshake than my good self. Mind you, I had just told him I was going to kill him.
I also have a rather embarrassing update on Trattoria Italiana. My new favourite restaurant was subject to a third outing on Saturday night, this time with my friend Harriet (Who has been staying with me but mercifully left today) and mutual friend Verity. I had 'bigged up' the establishment and they were keen to try it out in a ninety minute window they had before going off to see Steve Bowditch's ridiculous take on the Sherlock Holmes stories. We got a bottle of wine each, so as to save money (it being well in to the festival now and there only being a £1 corkage fee) and hot-footed it down there. The place was busy and we were led to a table in the bowels of the little trattoria. An hour later we had finished two of the three bottles of wine but none of our food had arrived. They made their apologies and left. I was furious. Poor Salvo the chef was alone in the kitchen and had never got our order. It was a genuine and honest mix up but it left them hungry and (ultimately) me by myself. When he found out what had happened he insisted I stay and have a meal on the house. Well I'm not one to turn down free food. I struck up a conversation with a couple sat to my left who had ordered two glasses of wine that never came. I sold them the remaining bottle at a very reasonable £10 (twice what we paid for it) so actually left there a fiver up with three courses inside me and a rosy hue to my weather-beaten cheeks. Sometimes you just have to make the best of a bad situation.

Two hot chicks I let down in an Italian restaurant. At this point they still thought they were going to be fed. ALL PART OF MY EVIL PLAN.
The Loft Bar is all things to all men. Yes it is a terrible name-dropping, networking show-off kind of place but it's also the only gaff in Edinburgh where I know I'm going to bump into old friends. Below is the last photograph that was taken on a particularly unsober evening the other night. It features Canadian comic Glen Wool who is in the "Return Of The Lumberjacks Show" with the aforementiones Stewart Francis and Craig Campbell. I've known Glen for fifteen years and once we'd got over the relative increase in sizes of our midriffs it was a pleasant conversation, from what I can remember.

With my good friend Glen Wool. We have both seen better days. Well, we had that night anyway.
It's not all been good news. I have previously blogged about how I feel a sense of loss when a pair of my brothel creepers come to the end of their lives but I'm particularly upset that the sole has split on one of my favourite red pair. I got these for half price (about thirty five quid) over a decade ago and they've been with me over three continents, to festivals, bike gigs, comedy shows, weddings, rock gigs, punk gigs and worn recreationally on so many occasions that to think I won't be able to wear them again is heart breaking. I know they're only a pair of shoes but they were my absolute favourite and now they are no more. Here they are in all their fallen glory

These are probably my favouite ever pair of shoes and it seems fitting that I took this photo on Niddry Street. One of my favourite ever roads. I'll miss them both come the end of the week.
Finally, a bit about the last week. Whitney has seen an upturn in numbers which has improved the mood in the flat and both my shows have enjoyed relative success so all in all it looks like this last three weeks have been a success. There's still room for the delightfully odd , however, and so I present you with Erin K. I clocked her a couple of times on Niddry Street with a guitar on her back looking like the most stylish and delicious musical act you ever did see but when I bumped into her in Banshee labyrinth on Monday night I didn't think she would be quite so excited about Andrea the Saridinian barman's open-mic music gig that was happening in the Chamber room. Minutes later she was on stage playing frankly bizarre songs and getting her friend to wear a rubber horse's head next to her as she crooned. Sorry the photo isn't better - my phone didn't have sufficient battery for the flash to work, more's the pity. She gave me a CD after the gig. I gave her one back, obviously.

This is a very bad photo of Erin and a girl wearing a rubber horse's head. My battery was too low to use the flash, thus making it even spookier. These things happen

Tomorrow I'm being interviewed in the street by BBC Radio 4Extra. They want me to talk about my attitude towards The Fringe. I hope they're ready to strap themselves in. I am rather belligerent.


  1. Once again Paul a lovely snapshot of the fringe - wonderful mistress and awful master that s/he is.

    1. Why thank you! It's an emotional roller coaster haha.

    2. Why thank you! It's an emotional roller coaster haha.


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