Edinburgh Fringe Trip 2015 - Friday the seventh

When returning my bairns to their mother’s house, after having them for the fifth week of the school holidays, I found out that they were going away to Dundee for the remaining time before they went back to school, meaning I’d have a child-free weekend ahead of me. What to do?

I decided pretty quickly that, seeing as this would be my only chance, I’d take advantage of the free time and go down to the Edinburgh Fringe for a couple of days. I didn’t manage to go there last year, but had done in 2013 and I’d really enjoyed it, vowing to return with better planning and more money next time. I also told my pal Andrew I’d give him a shout when I did it again, as he lives in Edinburgh and enjoys a show or two.

One quick Twitter conversation later and alas, Andrew was in London this weekend.

Solo it was, then.

I looked at the train prices on the Trainline app and saw I could get an open return for fifty six quid. Fine. That’s do-able.

I went to look at hotels and found I could get a room at a Travelodge for eighty six quid for the Friday night. Expensive, but also do-able. I added a Saturday night to the deal but that night alone was one hundred and eighty quid. Certainly not do-able.

One night it would have to be, then.

I dropped the bairns off and parked my van in the car park at my old flat It would be pretty safe there (Well, I’d had no incidents in four years.) and jumped on the first bus that came along to get me to Union Square, so I could start my journey in earnest. After rushing over from bus terminal to train station I had a fifteen minute wait until the 11:03 arrived, then that was me, leaving sunny Aberdeen for (hopefully) sunny Edinburgh.

Two and a bit hours later and I was in the capital. I hadn’t researched any shows before I’d left, but had found out through a conversation with Twitter pal Julia Sutherland that the show he’d done previously to Richard Herring at the Stand every day at two was being in part resurrected by producer Richard Melvin. It started at Two o’clock.

The train arrived in Waverley Station at 1:35 and after a swift hike up the road to York Place I procured a ticket and was sitting front row in time for the show to start.

Richard Melvin was presenting most of it, with Julia (more or less) taking the reins for the interview (it was Hal Cruttenden). There was also a trial panel show format section (The Fame or Shame Game), a bit of stand up with a twist where the audience, in which were already a few comedians, were allowed to heckle the performer (usually forbidden in The Stand) after a hooter sounded halfway through. The next part involved a stand-up being asked to perform part of his/her act without swearing. In order to help with this, an audience member had to hold a teddy bear to remind the comedian that a seven year old might be sitting in front of them. The show ended with Lach doing a song with his guitar incorporating all that had happened throughout the hour. A bit like Mr G of Russell Brand podcast and radio show fame set to music instead of rap.

They are still finding their feet with this, as it’s only the first show proper of the run, but also a bit chaotic because it’s supposed to be. On the whole it worked and I had a good laugh, which is always a great way to start your festival experience. It’s on daily at Stand 1 (apart from 17th of August) at 2pm and it’s £8 - Richard Melvin Presents…

I’d give it four out of five stars just now, but I bet it’ll be up at five by the end of the run, once they’re into their stride and depending on the guests they manage to lure in.

Julia has her own show there on the seventeenth, so I’d say that should be worth a punt as well.

I had actually intended to grab Julia and ask her for a wee interview about both shows for the podcast, but I lost my nerve in the end. She probably thinks I’m stalking her anyway, so maybe for the best that I left it.

One other show I’d heard about on Facebook was a play about Byron called Touched by Fire. My pal Jamie Rodden was in it, so after a swift visit to my hotel to check in and leave the heavier stuff, like my jacket, that I was carrying with me, I rushed across to the Royal Mile to the venue, booking my ticket on route thanks to the excellent Fringe app (iTunes version or Android version). I battled my way through the throngs to the festival office up there to swipe my card and get my tickets printed before panicking slightly while trying to find the venue.

I got there in time, thankfully and wasn’t disappointed as Jamie turned in an excellent performance of the troubled Lord. We had to don masks as we entered, which we were asked to take off again during the show as part of the act. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Five stars for me and that’s not just because I know the main actor in it.

I had a wee wander about after that, picking up something to eat and a bottle of water down in the Grassmarket before my next show, which was Ashley Storrie over at the Counting House. It’s part of the Pear Tree pub in West Nicholson Street and it was part of the free festival. I like these, you get in for free, but have to pay to get out, paying what you think the show as worth. The performance wasn’t on for half an hour yet, so I went to the Pear tree and had my first bottle of beer since the General Election. It wasn’t to be my last that day.

Ashley was good so I stuck a few quid in her bucket. Four and a half stars and I can see her reaching five at peak festival time when she’s got a few performances under her belt.

Next up was Ashley’s mum who just happens to be Janey Godley. Again a Free Fringe event, again very good, so I stuck a few quid in Janey’s bucket as well. Three stars here, but not really Janey’s fault as there were interrupting latecomers throughout the show and the heat of the venue seemed to upset Janey’s flow.

After those shows and another few beers I decided to go to the Jazz Bar of all places. I’m far from an afficionado, but an old school pal had messaged me that his son was playing saxophone in the resident band. So there I went.

I still don’t get jazz, it’s all above my head. I reckon you have to be really brainy or something to understand it and that’s just not me, but I could tell that Rudy was a great sax player and I found myself enjoying it regardless of my lack of jazz credentials.

As the old joke goes, “In Peterheid, jazz is a film aboot a shark…”.

Well that was me, back to the hotel rather worse for wear and unfortunately nowhere obvious (that I knew of) open on route to get something to eat. Well, apart from McDonalds, which I refuse to enter and KFC, which I give in to. I say give in, but I got as far as standing in the queue, reading the menu board and leaving before getting to the front of the line, cynical and exasperated, because there was nothing for sale under six pounds. No other menus. I’m pretty sure there were cheaper options, but I think you had to be in the know to have that information and I just wasn’t in the know.

A bag of crisps from the Travelodge vending machine had to suffice that night.

A great Friday and hopefully Saturday would be equally as entertaining.