Edinburgh Fringe 2019

I’ve been to the Edinburgh Fringe many times, but never as an artist and so 2019 has fulfilled a dream I’ve had since those heady days of drama school. We took our show, Mémoires d’un Amnésique, for two dates at Venue 122, Lindisfarne Room, St Cuthbert’s Church. I always think this is one of the best weeks to go to the fringe, I’m not sure why. The streets are always thronging with people and, while among them, I was carried along in the swathe of enthusiasm. Driving to the venue, however, was a different kettle of fish. It was like driving through streets lined with pheasants — the most stupid of birds. Loitering on (and off) of pavements, ready to dash into the road with no consciousness of the fact there are cars and buses, with hot, bothered drivers, trying to get from A to B. Thank the lord for satnav, air-con and unwavering pre/post-show excitement.

Edinburgh Pollock Halls
The view from my room — very Hogwarts!

I booked to stay in the uni campus of Pollock Halls, for which I had dubious expectations. I was thinking tiny scruffy rooms, cracked sinks and questionable stains on the carpets. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. Obviously, the halls are regularly (and lucratively) hired out as hotels rooms/conference venues and it was just like checking into a decent hotel. Clean, light room with a view of a castle to one side and Arthur’s Seat to the other, free breakfast in the dining room (which was catering for hundreds, so a bit of a bun-fight — well, croissant- fight) and grounds plush with flora. And cheap! They even let me park my car around the back, which was a godsend as it was rammed full of set for the show and the one factor of the trip that was being left to chance.

Campus was a 25 min walk to the old town centre and with that and all the flyering and walking around, my step counter went through the roof! Aching legs each morning were proof of this and absolutely nothing to do with the beer consumption from the night before! We did discover a rather nice beer café/shop — The Salt Horse on Blackfriar’s Street. We visited it several times over the few days we were there (they also did an amazing jackfruit burger) and it was fitting that Keith, Alex and I went back for a couple of beers on Saturday eve, to celebrate the end of the first leg of our tour. Funny how you anchor yourself to a pub or café when you are away. A little bit of familiarity among the unknown, perhaps. (They did have the most amazing range of beers and lovely staff, who made you feel welcome and not like a tourist).

The Salt Horse, Edinburgh
Celebratory Scottish IPA

We saw some excellent comedy shows while we were there, the highlights being Lewis Schaffer and Daniel Kitson. I’d seen Schaffer before, but Kitson was new and came highly recommended. It was so great to have a proper laugh, usually at highly irreverent one-liners. We had a chat in the bar with Schaffer after his show, which was also good value.

@LewisSchaffer

Anyway, back to OUR show, which was a resounding success. We can’t believe how well it’s been received (well, we can because it’s FAB), but it was ‘standing room only’ for both shows and the comments from the exiting audience were wonderful — we even made one woman cry! Another man liked it so much, he came to both performances. We have had a lot of enquiries, in person and online, about future shows and I’m thrilled to say that our ‘European Tour’ continues this year in Tunbridge Wells and St. Leonard’s, and next year in France, Copenhagen, Deal and Gothenburg (all dates tbc). We have a few other irons in the fire, too. It’s going to be amazing and we keep pinching ourselves at how well it’s all going.

Suffice to say, with going-back-to-work looming next week, I’m on a bit of a post-Edinburgh come down. Reality bites. What with the Satie and the Cardew shows, it’s been one hell of a summer and seems to have gone so fast. However, more plans are afoot — we are re-crafting the Cardew for its full exposure in 2020 and I am busy producing the new book for Paper Swans and co-organising a ‘Music and Words’ evening for November.

I feel very lucky indeed.

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