After a one year absence, I was back at the Edinburgh Festival.
I didn’t go last year as I went to the European Championship in France instead.
Not going to lie, August 2016 was unbearable, as I follow a lot of performers and venues on Social Media and all they did was post about Edinburgh. It was like hearing about a party you weren’t at.
I decided to go over for the opening weekend. There’s no bad time to go, it’s brilliant all month. From experience, the festival is at it’s best in the middle as you can find them just getting warmed up at the start and winding down at the end.
As I say, there is no bad time to go, and I began to count down from the moment I had the trip booked.
Part of the countdown is getting the programme and circling through it. Lots and lots of circling.
It’s not essential, but it does help if you plan what you want to see in advance. So, I created a database (stop laughing) and plotted my schedule of what I wanted to see.
However, I got lazy and forgot to book them in advance, so I would be gambling on purchasing them on my first day.
Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad. I got all I wanted, albeit having to rearrange the days I saw them to what was planned.
There was a mildly amusing (I’m downgrading it in order to manage expectations) moment when I asked the woman at the counter if Grainne Maguire’s free lunchtime show was ticketed and she replied “Grainne with a fada?”.
I thought her computer was case sensitive but it turned out she was asking if I was wanting to see Grainne Maguire’s other show she was doing.
I went to see What Has The News Ever Done For Me? hosted by Grainne Maguire, where a panel of comedians put forward a case as to why their light hearted news story of choice is the most important story in the world.
The show was ok, but I imagine it will get better throughout the month. What we did learn is that Maguire’s knowledge of Scottish politics is that Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale has a new girlfriend, with Maguire revealing that she once bought a dress because Dugdale wore it.
We also had people loitering outside, unsure if they wanted to see the show. They disappeared before the end of the show.
Despite a year away, I still hadn’t lost the knack of politely declining flyers and apologetically replying “I’m fine thanks”, a phrase I would say quite a lot over the weekend.
On my first day there, the weather didn’t disappoint. When I say it didn’t disappoint, I mean, I expected rain and got lots of it.
I went for a walk to Potterow where building work meant that the BBC’s location had been moved to nearby George Heriot’s School.
I only applied for one show, Steve Wright In The Afternoon on my first day there, and was unsuccessful.
While heading back from Potterow, The Scotsman were selling copies where you get a free goody bag. This include free sun cream …… as the rain continued to fall. Even the Newspaper Sellers in Edinburgh think they’re comedians.
As I headed into Edinburgh from the Airport, I browsed through the listings in Metro and saw an event which caught my eye called Fringe By The Sea, a counter event in North Berwick, a 30 minute train journey away.
KT Tunstall was playing on the Monday while I was there, but it was sold out.
Another concert I was unaware of until I arrived was Madness performing at Falkirk Stadium on the first day I arrived. Falkirk is only 30 minutes from Edinburgh by train.
No point crying over what I missed out on.
On the Friday teatime I went to see What Bowie Did Next looking at what David Bowie did when he entered heaven.
It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t something i’d preach about to others. There were some fluffed lines, but they weren’t disastrous due to some quick thinking and audience interaction, and we did get to see Jimi Hendrix as portrayed by Jim Broadbent.
Friday accidentally became a themed day of dead people as my next show starred Margaret Thatcher. Well, probably someone in costume as her.
Thatcher Queen Of Game Shows is the follow-up to Thatcher Queen Of Sho, where Maggie now hosts a Game Show where plebs battle it out for benefits.
As I queued outside, Thatcher came out to inform the crowd that the show was delayed due to technical issues, blaming them on Theresa May.
She even apologised for the delay. That was very uncharacteristic for her. She didn’t apologise for the rain though.
The show pitted Skivers against Strivers. I was sat in the Skivers section, as we were treated to Angela Merkel rapping and Nicola Sturgeon in puppet form. Seriously, go see it.
Saturday morning was spent visiting Grassmarket and walking around the general Princes Street area, before catching some football as Edinburgh City took on Montrose,
By Saturday teatime, Edinburgh was now bathed in sunshine and that free sun cream was coming in handy, as I headed to Pleasance to see Matt Forde with a show titled that it was hastily rewritten.
He covers Politics and, i’m not sure if you’ve noticed recently, but Politics is fucked up these days.
You don’t have to be into Politics to enjoy the show, as he talks about loving the way Paul Nuttall says “Fisheries” and not much else about him.
Sunday morning was spent looking for bargains in the charity shops near Potterow and visiting Royal Mile Market as Edinburgh got treated to more rain.
By this point, The Scotsman were now giving out ponchos to anyone who bought it.
I’d left a gap on Monday for KT Tunstall, but i’d resigned myself to not going, so I set about getting tickets for Monday.
I purchased one for The Damned United. I’d hoped to see James Acaster but he was sold out, so Monday night was still free.
On Sunday teatime I went to see a show called Ringo starring Alexander Fox, about his obsession with Ringo Starr.
His accent when impersonating Starr sounded a bit Yorkshire, but a quick audio montage during the show revealed that Ringo’s accent goes all over the place.
Fox stated that he couldn’t afford an agent of flyers as he spent all his budget on a drum kit to perform on stage during the show.
However, I saw Flyerers for his show on the Monday, so he must have had a good weekend.
On the Sunday evening, I went to see Whose Line Is It Anyway? which was worth it to see Phill Jupitus do Bollywood.
I toyed with the idea of getting up early on Monday to walk Arthur’s Seat, but slept in. Try again in 2018.
I walked around Edinburgh on Monday morning, really realising how much I miss going to MacAulay and Co on weekday mornings, with the show having been cancelled by BBC Scotland in 2015.
So, what to do on Monday night?
Monday lunchtime was a free show called Circled In the Radio Times by John Osborne about inheriting his Grandad’s old editions of Radio Times and being able to pinpoint the exact moment he stopped watching Eastenders. It involved a Mitchell family feud.
Monday teatime was spent watching a stage version of The Damned United.
We even got a programme. Well, a sheet listing the cast, but i’m counting it as a programme.
It was very sweary, with some of Brian Clough’s mannerisms being spot on.
I wouldn’t say it’s the best play about Brian Cough at this year’s Fringe, but it’s in the top one.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t run for 44 days.
Warning, it’s very sweary.
Monday night was spent seeing Fred MacAulay at The Stand.
I’ve been a fan for a while but never got round to seeing as I usually went to his BBC show for free so didn’t feel the need to.
He observed his level of fame as being people know his name but don’t know his name and shared his fear that he might be related to Donald Trump.
So, that was it, my Edinburgh was over for another year and I flew back to Belfast on Tuesday morning.
One downside is that when you go, there will be some acts you miss. Here are some i’d suggest if you are heading over that I would have loved to have seen but they weren’t on when I was there :
Fred MacAulay In Conversation
Live At The Pleasance
In Conversation With Amy MacDonald
Mr Laurel and Mr Hardy
So that is me, until August 2018 when it will be uphill walks, apologising to flyerers, rain, and most importantly, a good time.