Saturday, 14 August 2010

The Chocolate Ocelot's Fringe - Saturday

Up late.
One eyelash on pillow. Conceal it from Herself. Should add at this point that this is a false eyelash – I’m not suffering from nervous alopecia or anything. Said lashes are supposed to last a few weeks at least, but I manage to lose my carefully glued-on falsies at a fair rate of knots. Suspect copiously applied moisturing cream around the eye is the prime culprit here.

Breakfast of custard creams and porridge (separately).
Arrange to meet local friend CB for coffee later. Strange how we all say ‘Let’s meet for coffee’, even if we don’t drink coffee. But if I said ‘Let’s meet for tea’, my preferred beverage, it sounds like we’ll be having scones and sandwiches. It’s a tricky business.

Wind situation has improved overnight. Huzzah.

Herself is up with the lark to exchange tickets for cancelled Arthur Smith show, then down the hill to the farmers’ market. Content myself with shuffling around in trackie bottoms back at the flat and typing up blog very clumsily, thanks to small keyboard/fat fingers combo. Catch up with Herself at market, which is mainly populated with nice middle class English people selling traditional Scottish produce. Well done the English for cornering this lucrative market.

On way back to apartment, discover that Every Single Bagpipe Band In The World has converged on street below castle. They are all tuning up separately and twirling tasselly drumsticks. It is rather noisy and fabulous. Later that day, I will come to dread hearing Scotland The Brave one more bloody time. One band leader looks marvellous, like a tartan-clad, rayban wearing hell’s angel – he looks like that Charles Bronson ‘the hardest man in prison’. Brilliant.

First show of the day – free concert at St Giles Cathedral on Royal Mile – a decent young orchestra from three (I think) schools in Norway - Jessheim Hovin and (if my translation of ‘og’ is to be trusted) Mogreina. They put on a spirited rendition of Bo Rhap and a catchy Abba medley. We are sat behind the orchestra, so can observe the unruly percussion section larking about. We suspect that they put the kids with ADHD at the back with the drums and maracas.

Next over to The Stand for to see the actor Kevin Eldon. Bloody good – you can tell he’s a mate of Bill Bailey’s by the way he does the musical numbers on his guitar. Some excellent gurning from Mr Eldon, though sadly no Simon Quinlank. Dr Foot, who is also up at the Fringe for a couple of days, will kick himself that his heterosexual Fringe-mate wouldn’t let him see this. We will make sure he knows how good it is. Herself plans to rescue Dr Foot from his picky pal and install him on the z-bed in our flat.

Give the free recital at St Mary’s church behind Princes Street a miss, and instead lurk round Bravissimo. Feel a bit of a fraud going in there, as am only a D and Bravissimo specialises in the higher end of the breast alphabet. Wish had worn padded bra today. Herself is a ludicrous 30E.

Wander south to old town and go into Dead Head Comics, reputed model for Black Books, where, coincidentally enough, we bump into the producers of Electric Man, Scotland’s first superhero/comedy fillum, whom we had previously met at a memorabilia geek con in London last month. Exchange pleasantries, wish them luck for shooting in September, and say hello to the nice young man from London who has been cast as one of the leads. Herself advertises her services to them as bookkeeper, beautician and physio, then blows my cover by handing them a TG makeover business card. Busted again.

Celebs seen on street: 3…
• That wild looking Scottish bloke who I think played Tim Bisley’s editor in Spaced, or else a mad priest in Father Ted
• Colin Hoult walking hand in hand with some sort of lady friend
• Stewart Lee, sitting on steps of The Stand and looking sunburnt

Race the massed Pipes Of The World down the Royal Mile so we can cross the thronged streets and get to the Fudge Shop, there to purchase a full £14.75 of butter tablet – Scotland’s prototype for heroin. Mmmm. Goodbye real food, hello diabetes.

Herself comes up with a clever method of traversing the Royal Mile without being weighed down by flyers handed out by bright-faced young things trying to get you to come along to their improvised puppet show in the room above the chip shop. Said method is to move along the crowded street by means of a little dance, which is part shadow boxing, part Ghostbusters dance (if you are old enough to remember the Ray Parker Jnr video), and part hunched lunatic. It works amazingly well, and Herself passes through the crowds almost unseen, as if nobody, including the flyer-hander-outers, wants to admit even to themselves that they can see her.

Discover that in the afternoon, sun comes in through apartment windows and beats down on head while typing blog. Also makes screen very hard to read.

Visit Transreal fiction, which year on year surprises me that it doesn’t specialise in enforced feminisation erotic fantasy, there to see The Attack Of The Knitted Tentacles – a collection of knitted cthuloid creatures sprawling around the bookshelves.

Then off to meet up with CB and her friend Sylvje (think that’s how it’s spelt) from Norway. Enjoy a very fine tea and biscuit combo at the Black Medicine Coffee Shop on Nicolson Street.

Next, down to the independent republic of The Pleasance – a venue that tries to ignore the rest of the Fringe and trap people in its fortified walls for the whole day. This would never work on me because the main courtyard is a horribly crowded series of bars and outside tables, populated by boozy luvvies and too many smokers. It is a great place to spot performers though. And I like the big yellow totem pole in the centre that points to the different parts of the Pleasance.

Tim Fitzhigham, Gentleman Adventurer, is playing in the Pleasance Ark – a new addition for this year which he takes credit for. Clearly designed as a kiddie activity area – it’s a pretend pirate boast with teeny tiny stools inside for the audience, which were barely adequate for by capacious bottom after an hour. Mr Fitzhigham is friendly and jolly, and makes us all most welcome aboard his vessel. The show is a funny mixture of songs (he is one half of the Flanders And Swann show, after all) and a slide show of his ‘madcap’ (oh how I hate that word) adventures: Rowing the channel in a tin bath; going down the Thames in a paper boat; up the Orinoco by log. You get the idea.

But thinking back on it, though his adventures are great and all that, I’m left with a feeling of jealousy and… well, ‘You over-privileged, independently-wealthy bastard’ comes to mind. Just something about his lack of proper English apologeticness for being able to do the sort of mad exciting things the rest of us will never have the time or money to do. I like his beard though, even when it is drenched in performer’s sweat. And the whites of his eyes are massive and very white.

The show is unexpectedly accompanied by a weird creaking and groaning, which at first I think is some sort of pirate ship sound effect, but it soon becomes clear is emanating from some sort of special person sat behind us. Can’t turn round to see who, though. It is slightly off-putting and I cannot relax into the show. There’s only about twenty of us in the audience, and the sporadic additional vocalisations are somewhat noticeable. Still, can’t say anything ‘cause that’d make me an insensitive cowbag. So forget I said anything.

Next up is token German Henning When (pronounced ‘vain’) in one of the Just The Tonic dungeons down on Cowgate. The show starts late, which is most un-German, and we realise that we’ll have to leave before the end of a show for the second time. Never had to this before this year – don’t like it all. Herself makes it easier on us by asking to sit at the back of the dungeon where he is performing, ‘because we have another show to review straight after’. Cunning girl. I get a piece of paper out to complete the illusion, and scab a Henning Wehn pen from the dungeon floor. He is most amusing, though I am mainly entertained by his weird German/London accent, and the way he pronounces ‘Facking’. He also lays into the ‘lazy and corrupt’ Greeks who asked Germany for a handout following their country going bust. It’s a little too vehement for comfort.

We dash out of Herr Wehn’s dungeon with ten minutes left to go, and skip up and over the Royal Mile to rendezvous with Dr Foot and Heterosexual Fringe Mate at a weird venue down on Jeffreys Street, almost under the North Bridge. This is where we saw both Hamlet Bingo and the other Sherlock Holmes last year. This time it is to see Deepchurch Hollow, which turns out to be a spooky ghost story set in modern Gettysburg, performed by young (but not too young) Americans. A spirited performance, and actually spooky whenever the faceless woman appears out of the darkness. All very Woman In Black, which is no bad thing.

A pleasant stroll back up to the Royal Mile with Dr Foot and HFM, then back to the flat for late night nibblage and bed.

Shows seen: 5
Flyers collected : 10
Steps taken today by Herself: 14,966

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