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Wednesday, August 10

Last night I replaced the hole in my car window with a black bag. This was not a security measure. The perspex flying off had meant that my car was more subject to the elements than I was comfortable with. I hoped that the black bag would do the trick to protect the inside of the car from driving rain.

It did. It also made an interesting fluttering noise as I drove to work. Sadly, I woke up too late for a shower and the rush into the office was still a rush... though I arrived early. I parked the car in sight of a security camera and took my guitar into the office with me. I hope dto go to Edinburgh after work, sans-window - sod it. I would perform and watch shows and forget about the annoyances in life for a bit. I'd have to shower when I got home later on.

For breakfast, some fruit juice and a tea-cake. I wonder how they got their name. It was a bit too sweety/carbohydratey, but sod it. I was in a mood.

Morning in the office felt like wading through treacle. Things are not looking particularly limber. I've been able to use some of the down time to update this blog, though, which is nice.

Lunchtime involved a baked potato and "I'll have some creamed horseradish - you can go to town on it if you want". She did. I sweated through my eyes eating that baked potato. It was very good!

Fringe Foray 1
Well, I couldn't keep away from Edinburgh during the Fringe. As I may have mentioned on more than one occasion, I love the Fringe. My relationship with this festival has changed over the last 10 or so years as I've visited it. For a while, we had a very distant relationship, in that I didn't visit it at all while I was with my ex-girlfriend. That was probably a bad move. Here's my recollection of the fringes I visited and what happened.

1994 - Went for a few days and had a good time
1995 - Went for a few more days and had a very good time
2002 - Had ten days there and saw a shed load of shows. Decided to become a stand-up and take a full length one man show the following year.
2003 - Didn't take a one man show. I did 10 spots as an 8 month-old stand-up. Learnt some of the craft of stand-up. Spent 3 weeks there and saw nearly 70 shows.
2004 - Took The Musical! and performed nearly 70 times (including that). Saw a lot of stuff, but missed a lot more.
2005 - Only going for a week. Will be performing The Great Big Comedy Picnic... and I want to watch a lot.

So. Where in 1994, I was watching the one man shows of Stewart Lee and Richard Herring, here in 2005 I will be... er... watching the one man shows of Lee and Herring respectively (or perhaps Herring and Lee).

I drove to Edinburgh with some degree of excitement. My desire to go on Monday had been unsatisfied, so I was extra excited. The journey was, of course, in the company of the whistling wind, as my rear window still hadn't been replaced. I also had Radio 4 and its "comedy" bit. Actually, the comedy in question was a sit-com in which the principal character is a dog, played by Alan Davies. This is a pretty good show, although it's intentionally witty and amusing, rather than laugh-out-loud. No problem, I'd quite enjoyed it the last time I'd heard it. I'd last heard it perhaps 6 months ago and they were repeating it. They were repeating pretty much the only episode I ever recall hearing, but it was worth a second listen.

Once in Edinburgh itself I had two urgent requirements... no, make that three. Perhaps I should have just gone back and corrected the first half of the last sentence, but why not just write this as I think it? Eh? Eh? Ok, then, I will. Urgent requirement 1 was to find somewhere secure to park the car. In this case, the word "secure" meant to park against a wall or similar. I had some ideas of where to try. Luckily, I found a portakabin near the Pleasance and parked very very close to it. Smashing, because urgent requirement 2 was to have a wee wee. The Pleasance has a toilet and so I used it. This was an excellent choice as requirement 3 was to see a show and I had pretty much decided to see Richard Herring's show (8pm, Pleasance Above) as my first paying-entry show of this year's Fringe. Quite appropriate to support Mr Herring, given his position as one of my comedy icons, and his presence in my ears over recent weeks.

Much as I was unimpressed by Richard Herring's performance on May 26th (read back), so I was relatively skeptical about what he was really delivering on the stand-up stage. It had its moments and, apart from his somewhat luvvie-styled bowing at the end, I felt quite comfortable.

After the show was over, I hurried across to the Baby Belly to see Priorite A Gauche. They are a spoof French pop/folk duo. They were very funny and musically stunning. I was very very impressed. With two electro acoustic guitars and an electro acoustic fretless bass (plus a tiny bit of electronics), they made one hell of an impressive sound. I bought their CD afterwards. It's great.

Then I sauntered across town to the Gilded Balloon and watched Frank Hovis. I have never seen Frank Hovis live (he's a character, created by John Sparkes of Absolutely). Watching him in the flesh was a quasi-religious experience for me. He was, in places, outrageously funny. In other places, he was corny, but that was an intentional character-flaw of the character. In other places, he was just doing the same shtick that I memorised off the telly in 1993. I could have mouthed along to bits of it. It was simply great. I giggled for about 10 minutes after the show. I felt great.

Speaking to a friend of mine on the telephone, I gaily jaunted across town to a venue where the 4th show of my evening would be occurring. I was going to perform. I arrived just before show time and managed to avoid going on 5th (which would have meant an exceedingly late night for me, rather than just a very late night) and managed to go on 1st, claiming something about having to tune my guitar (which was pretty much in tune, as it happened).

So, I went on 2nd. I went on with the intention of rocking the place. I used my new catchphrase -"Rock, you motherfuckers" - which they took far too seriously! I also did my opening song in the style of a swing singer, which was fun - I really need a big band. Bizarrely, having managed to avoid having that song stuck in my head for years, the swing version has become a new catchy tune that I occasionally find myself hearing. After about 30 minutes, I was on the finale and a heckler pulled my guitar-lead out. That's quite direct heckling. He was booed by the rest of the audience. I think that proved something. The heckler was, perhaps, nonplussed by my last song, but his actions bought him an additional verse of it. As I reclaimed my lead from the floor, to the cheers from the audience, I proclaimed - "They can take our leads, but they'll never take away our freedom". Well, I was amused.

This is, I performed for 30 minutes. In places, they were dropping interest. In places I did big hitter stuff, in places I chuntered on. I didn't give a shit. I didn't care about the hecklers. I didn't feel phased. I was there to perform and my brain was in gear. I was able to ad lib and make myself time to come up with the right lines. I purposely slowed bits of material down. I also purposely forced myself to do many bits of my set in some sort of new way. I had a lovely time.

I drove back home at top speed. Well, I could have gone faster, but I wanted the car to be under some degree of control. I showered and went to sleep very late. It didn't bode well for my levels of alertness the following day, but I'd had a smashing night.

This guerilla warfare approach to the Fringe is not quite how I set out to enjoy the festival this year, but I'm happy I did it. I would have wanted to do it again the following night, but I had to reserve the next day for preparing for going to the Fringe properly. With a car with a bust window, and with washing to sort out, I have to be realistic and get things sorted before I head to very busy city for a very busy week.

The one evening in Edinburgh had involved quite a lot of laughter and a reasonable amount of walking. I fully intend to run myself at full throttle for the next week and a bit. The world of performance comedy is important to me and I don't believe you get extra points for not living life to the max.

If I keep control of my eating while away, then I should be able to come back healthier and full of ideas and energy. It's only a week, but at that pace, it could be the week. The following week at work will be busy too and I have already booked time off to go on holiday with my girlfriend a couple of weeks after. So, life is not going to slow down. I'm looking forward to the next 6 weeks, really.

I accidentally made the mistake, while on the phone to my girlfriend on Friday, of promising her that I will not have any fried breakfasts (excluding, perhaps, the occasional sandwich of one item or another) while in Edinburgh. By linking my commitment to my relationship with my girlfriend to my commitment to my own healthy eating, I have, in some ways, shot myself in the foot. I shall have to do it now, there's no failing to be allowed.

On the up side, I'm sure she'd prefer a boyfriend with a longer life expectancy and a bit more energy!


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