EDINBLOG 2017

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

Iain Connell

Limmy

Live At The Pleasance

Mark Watson

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.

Edinblog 2015

Edinblog 2014

Edinblog 2013

Edinblog 2012

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

THE EDINBURGH CELEB SPOTTING BLOG 2015

Celeb Spotting is as big a part of going to the Edinburgh Festival as going to actual shows. Every year, you’re guaranteed to see somebody remotely famous there.

This year was no different, although I had to wait a while. I arrived on the Saturday morning, and didn’t see a celeb until the Monday night.

Monday 24th August

Gyles Brandreth – Walking towards Potterrow
Al Murray – Walking towards Assembley at Potterrow*
Jimeoin – Walking along Forrest Road.

Tuesday 25th August

Al Murray – Hailing a cab on Princes Street**

Wednesday 26th August

Matt Forde – Talking to flyerers at Pleasance
Gordon Strachan – Loitering backstage at the James concert at Princes Street Gardens

* Al Murray has made so many appearances on this blog, it’s as much a certainty of being in Edinburgh as it raining.

** I’m not stalking Al Murray.

Celeb Spotting 2014

Celeb Spotting 2013

Celeb Spotting 2012

Celeb Spotting 2011

EDINBLOG 2015

August is my favourite month of the year, for the simple reason that it’s the month that I visit the Edinburgh Festival. If I could, i’d go there for the whole month.

I actually went later in the month than I usually do. The latest i’ve been since I first visited in 2009.

This year, for the first time, I bought my tickets in advance rather than waiting to purchase when I arrived. I got everything I wanted, barring having to rearranging my Saturday night and Monday night choices.

All I had to do when I arrived at the ticket office was to swipe my Debit Card, and my tickets printed off. It wasn’t totally problem free, as the printer ran out of paper when printing off my tickets. Only a minor hitch in an otherwise efficient system.

I flew out on the Saturday morning, and after getting my tickets and getting checked in, Saturday afternoon was all about football, as I headed to Tynecastle to watch Hearts take on Partick Thistle.

Despite being an Edinburgh veteran, I managed to get lost en route by not paying attention at Haymarket Station and taking a wrong turn.

I managed to make it to the ground in plenty of time for kick-off regardless, and saw Hearts maintain their lead at the top of the SPL with a 3-0 win.

I only went to one show on the Saturday, Stewart Francis at Assembly George Square. You will recognise him from various panel shows, specialising in bad puns. Groans and laughter were plentiful in equal measure.

On the Sunday, I decided to head to Glasgow for a few hours, while taking in Rangers v Hibs. Before I set off for Glasgow, I got some photos of Street Art in Edinburgh, near Waverley Station.

Every year that i’ve visited Edinburgh, i’ve always wanted to visit another city or town in Scotland, just to escape for a few years.

I have in my head to visit Stirling some time. Maybe next year?

I was a bit delayed getting out of Glasgow, I missed the start of John Lloyd’s show. That, and the fact I got lost en route to the venue. I am an Edinburgh veteran, trust me. It’s just that there are so many venues called Assembly.

Turns out it was Assembley opposite Hotel Du Vin rather than the one at Potterrow.

You probably know more about John Lloyd than you think you do mostly famed for his work behind the scenes on Spitting Image and creating QI. His show was an entertaining look at trivia and knowledge.

Later on Sunday, I headed to Pleasance to see James Acaster. I’d previously seen him do a slot at a charity gig in London a few years ago, so I was looking forward to seeing him.

His humour is very deadpan and surreal. This year, he has made a breakthrough into panel shows. This show focused on him sharing celebrity gossip about the Chilean Miners, and his experiences on jury duty.

One more show followed on the Sunday, and I managed to go to the wrong venue. Again, a case of two many venues called Assembly.

That show, was a live recording of Josh Widdecombe’s XFM Show. I’m a big fan of Widdecombe, and actually listen to the show when i’m getting ready on a Saturday morning.

As a bonus, James Acaster was on it. Double Acaster in the one night.

There was one bonus of my getting lost, as I found out where Roxburgh Hotel was. On the Monday morning, I headed there for a Record Fair. I didn’t get anything, but if I didn’t go, I knew I would have been annoyed at myself for not going, and thinking that i’d missed out on something.

I spend Monday morning wandering around the West End and visiting my two favourite shops in Edinburgh – Fopp and Football Nation.

One of the best things about Edinburgh is, that you can escape from the Fringe for a few hours if you wish, and you don’t have to go very far to do so.

One year, I spent so much time in Cowgate, Potterrow and Pleasance, I didn’t even spend a minute in Princes Street/George Street, so it’s good to get a nice mix of Edinburgh.

My first show on the Monday was to see Mark Watson do a show called Work In Progress, which as the title suggests, was to try out new material.

I’d seen him previously, as well as him hosting the Comedywealth Games last year. It was classic Watson, moving from one topic to another in rapid time.

I’ll be keeping an eye out if he does a full proper show next year.

From there, I quickly legged it from The Stand to Pleasance to see Batfan, about one performer and his obsession with Batman, and his quest to create the perfect Batman film. He’s not a fan of Joel Schumacher.

Not enough 60s Batman in it for me, but it was still enjoyable, especially some of the obscure/forgotten/unknown references. You didn’t need to be a massive fan of Batman in order to enjoy it.

I’d wanted to spend Monday night seeing FFS in concert, but unfortunately, all the tickets were sold out. I didn’t want to spend the evening at the venue in the hope that some tickets become available, so I decided to just go to a comedy show instead.

Quite literally, a case of FFS.

If you don’t know, FFS are a supergroup comprising of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. They are rather good. Looks like i’ll have to cross my fingers for a Belfast gig.

So what would fill my FFS void? Aisling Bea. You may have seen her on various panel shows. She was very good. The audience got a bit of a fright when they entered to room, to see her dancing in a morph suit.

Tuesday morning was spent walking around Princes Street Markets and Rose Street, before going to see The Man Called Monkhouse, set in the mid 1990s around the time of the theft of his joke book and the 20th anniversary of the death of his writing partner, Dennis Goodwin, sees Monkhouse looking back at his life to that point.

The voice was good but not perfect, but the look was. It looked like Monkhouse was in the room. As a bonus, we got some classic Monkhouse one-liners as well.

That was my only show on Tuesday, as Tuesday night was spent watching football, making a short train journey to see Dunfermline Athletic take on Dundee.

On Wednesday morning, I was curious and went for a walk around York Place and ended up in Leith. Even though this was the seventh year I had visited, it’s always good to explore new parts of the city I haven’t seen before.

One part of Edinburgh i’d love to visit is Arthur’s Seat, a hill which offers some spectacular views over Edinburgh. I’d planned on going on the Thursday morning, but the weather had started to turn. I didn’t quite fancy a hill walk in the rain. Maybe next year.

It was great though to have a trip to Edinburgh without having to wear a raincoat for the first four days. There were short periods of rain in my last two days.

My only show on Wednesday was to see Matt Forde. He specialises in Political Comedy, but he’s not a preachy type of comic, instead focusing on funny things in politics and amusing observations.

I’d previously seen him on Rory Bremner’s Election Report, and was not disappointed. He began by saying that he supported Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to be Labour Leader, not for political reasons, but for the material it will offer.

Wednesday night was spent at Princes Street Gardens to see James in concert. James doing a gig was part of the reason why I chose this particular week to go to Edinburgh.

Thurdsay was my last day, where I went to Edinburgh University to browse through the various charity shops for possible bargains.

Thursday lunchtime saw one last show, Pippa Evans celebrating the guilty pleasures of life, through the medium of song, even briefly bringing back her character of Loretta Maine, who I saw make a guest appearance on MacAulay and Co a few years ago.

Talking of MacAulay and Co, it wasn’t on this year. It was cancelled by Radio Scotland, and they didn’t even bring it back for the Edinburgh Festival.

In it’s place, was Kaye Adams. I’d love to be able to tell you if it was any good, but I slept in each morning I had a ticket having stayed up too late the night before. Maybe next year.

After Pippa Evans, a wee brief stroll around Princes Street, before getting the bus back to the airport.

That was it, that was my Edinburgh adventure for 2015. I didn’t see an awful show, which is almost disappointing. Already looking forward to 2016.

Edinblog 2014

Edinblog 2013

Edinblog 2012

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010