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Edinburgh Fringe

3rd September 2005 • Dave

The population of Edinburgh doubles each August as the annual Edinburgh
Festivals take over the Scottish capital. Art, books, film, jazz, new
media, Science, TV and a plethora of performance arts are all celebrated at
hundreds of venues across the city.

JW and I arrived by train from Preston into Waverly Station at around 5 on
the final Thursday in August and over the next 3 days or so our group
consisting of assorted acquaintances from school and college managed to
attend half a dozen shows at the Fringe and drink our way through several
late nights.

Our accommodation, a well equipped two-bedroom flat with access to a private
pool and sauna, as well as a 2MB internet connection accessible via Wifi
cost £500 for 3 nights. Not sure how I ended paying nearly half of the
total. My credit card still hasn’t recovered from the round the world
thing, and Once you factor in the trains and drinks and shows etc, it was a
pretty damaging weekend. Anyway, onto the shows.

As Seen on TV – Chris Mccausland. I’ve mentioned Chris previously and enjoy
his material. Chris has recently jacked in the day job and hopes to make a
living at stand-up. I truly wish him every success.

Abnormally Funny People. This show backed by BSkyB showcases the works of 5
disabled comedians. There will be a TV documentary about Abnormally Funny
people screened later in the year on the digital channel Sky One Mix.

Best of So You Think You’re Funny? This was a mixed bag some pretty dark
material in places which didn’t always play well with the crowd, most of
whom seemed to be from Stoke? Although it got better with contrasting
performances from the surreal Stewart Hudson followed by David O’Doherty,
Hudson having me laughing uncontrollably. Maybe the Guinness helped.
O’Doherty suffered from a nosebleed pretty early on but recovered pretty
quickly. More about him later.

Rhod Gilbert’s 1984 Extra Show. Welsh man describes how his 1984 was much
worse than that depicted in the literary classic. This tail of woe complete
with props put me in mind of Dave Gorman without the realism. Or maybe Dave
Gorman is just more believable and I’m slightly gullible. Either way, I’ve
spent worse hours, and Gilbert’s command of language and comic timing is
reasonably engaging.

Angry Young Man. Probably best described as a moving yet satirical drama.
This was an ensemble piece with 4 actors assuming the character of a
bewildered asylum seeker arriving in the UK from an eastern European or
central Asian country. This was probably the most sophisticated performance
we saw over the weekend. And I would have engaged with it a lot more had I
not desperately needed to use a toilet for about 80 percent of the show.
Leaving midway through this one really was not an option.

David O’Doherty – Grown Up. We liked this guy so much from the “Best Of” we
decided to check out his one-man show. He has a very gentle style with
minimal profanity, one for all the family if you happen to have a family
(more about them later). O’Doherty was a nice contrast from Angry Young
Man. I was mildly disappointed that we had already seen his best material
which pretty much formed the first 20 minutes of his one-man show. Again
echoes of Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack adventure in places. But this is not a
bad thing. And I think as time goes on more acts including something about
internet trivia and coincidence will become increasingly part of mainstream

There were one or two other shows, but I’m having trouble tracking down the
details. A guy from Belgium of Israeli origins performing a routine about
terrorism has stuck in my mind. And his act tapped into one of the more
dominant themes of this year’s Fringe.

More for practical and logistical reasons we pretty much limited our options
in terms of the shows we saw as by and large we restricted our sells to a
small number of venues. It would have also been interesting to check out
some of the other festivals. However, considering it was all a bit last
minute and we only had 3 days with which to play, we definitely put in a
respectable effort.

Thursday night’s Channel 4 “So You Think You’re Funny” party was bouncing
and even had a free bar! Unfortunately this went largely untapped as yours
truly spent a couple of hours with one of our number who had apparently
fallen asleep on a couch in the corner of the club. And by the time a
second person had asked me if my friend should be thinking about going home,
I figured that it was probably best to try and stay put until it was time to
go rather than drowned myself in a lake of free Guinness. Apparently I
cooked scrambled eggs at 5AM. Don’t ask.

Friday night’s Sky party probably wasn’t as lively as Thursday, and this may
have something to do with a lack of alcohol in most of the cocktails. And
most of our group decided to throw in the towel around 2AM. Ah well. Not
having any clue how to circumvent our flat’s security system I resigned
myself to going back with the others and getting an early night.

Saturday night pretty much everyone got completely destroyed to the point
where yours truly with the least eyesight in the group who knows how, but I
eventually managed to get us a taxi at stupid o’clock.

Sunday was one of the most unpleasant days I’ve had in a long time. While
waiting for breakfast in a Cafe a bee, (at least I think it was a bee)
somehow managed to buzz into my mouth and sting the inside of my bottom lip
which began to bleed. Unless you have had a living flying buzzing insect
inside your mouth you really can’t have any idea how absolutely horribly
sickening this is. Non of my so-called friends seemed too interested in
providing any form of assistance. And one of the ladies in the cafe
eventually helped me remove the sting. Although by that point I was feeling
pretty rough and could hardly touch my breakfast when it finally arrived.
It’s now the following Saturday and the swelling has finally gone down.

Apparently some modern trains have a new fangled visual display above each
seat to indicate a reservation. Not a lot of use if you can’t see it.
After being ousted from our seats by their rightful owners, I gently pointed
this out to the train manager who was happy to give all of us an upgrade
which I accepted gladly. Although I suspect he was probably slightly
bemused by one of our party who insisted on staying put, on the floor in the
corridor. I ask ya.

JW announced that she was going straight back to Cardiff and not coming to
Preston as originally arranged, before falling soundly asleep. I thought
about bees and breakfasts and corridors and Scottish countryside before
trying to catch 40 winks myself.

I have a complex relationship with my family. Maybe I’ll write it all down
one day. I’d been back in Preston for ten minutes when I got a call from a
relative who I’d not heard from in 9 months. They were demanding I DJ at a
party to be held 24 hours later in a town an hour away from where I live.
Well this is not really my line, but I guess I can do that sort of thing at
a stretch. But I need more than 24 hours to get some equipment and music
together, find out about the venue etc etc. If I’m going to do it then I
want to do it well. I’m also behind with work, and considering I had most
of July on holiday I don’t really want to take any days off for a while. I
attempted to explain some of this to an increasingly agitated relative who
unleashed a torrent of vitriol down the phone at me accusing me of not
giving a toss about my family. I find this a bit much in view of the fact
that my sister and I were raised by a succession of children’s homes, and
failing foster homes. Do me a favour. Anyway, it got worse and to be
honest I’d rather not write about it.

In fact I’d rather not write about much of the rest of this week to be
honest. The people who are important know who they are. And for that I
thank them.

As a wise man once said, there are 3 sides to every story, yours, mine, and
the truth.

Besides, they’ve got it much much worse in Louisiana right now.

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