Oh oh. They’re back. I was waiting to cross the road and realised I was being bookended by two massive German blokes dressed in lederhosen, and a unicorn was waiting on the other side for the lights to change.
The Fringe has landed.
The city is under constant surveillance from hundreds of eyes peering down from the posters promising delights such as Fjord Rap! Kjell Enevoldsen! Runner-up in Norway’s Got Talent for Rapping! or an uncut mime version of Lord Of The Rings by a Swiss student drama outfit.
And, of course, the comedians, gazing down at us to tempt us to shows with stars next to them and promises of “side-splitting moments” and “genuine talent”.
The posters, I notice, are getting bigger. They follow you about. Literally, since even our buses bear giant faces on the sides. It’s the sort of saturation coverage that Kim Jong-un aims for.
It’s a bit like living in a dictatorship of stand-up comedians.
Well, we’re ready for them. We’ve cleaned up the city – apart from the.. er.. tram thing, which even the stand-ups have stopped talking about – we’ve given the windows a bit of a once-over, had a quick run round with the Dyson and even put up flags saying “Hello!”, which no-one can see, since they are all way up there, but it’s the thought that counts.
And let’s not forget, it is great fun. The things we can get up to! Why, our Moaning Minnies have a whole new raft of things to whinge about, our pranksters can send Americans haring off to Portobello on the understanding that Nessie has moved briefly from her Loch Ness home for a holiday by the sea and our pedants can spend whole days teaching people from all over the world how to actually say words like Loch, bouffin’ and longer phrases such as Yer show’s barry / radge / boggin’, delete as applicable.
Well, welcome to Edinburgh, you comedians, free form contemporary dance troupes, magicians, torch singers, thespians, puppeteers and people who do something we haven’t quite worked out yet, but we’re sure your mum and dad like it. Everyone is welcome.
I can live without the unicycling mime artists, though.
Let the whole country join in
It is such fun that there are times when I wonder if we, that is, the city of Edinburgh, should widen our ambition and start to commandeer the whole country from the month of August, for the greater good of the economy? Let’s slosh the joy around like a family bag of Revels – only with the orange ones taken out. Can’t stand them.
Let’s festival Scotland from shore to shore.
Oh, yes, Tarquil and Sebastian from Essex, you are welcome with your fee-paying school drama production of Death of a Salesman. We have booked you into the Lock Inn in Fort Augustus for the first two weeks, and The Centaur Bar for the last week. That’s in Easterhouse, by the way.
And why not bring the best of Danish Dance to Duns, with a quick foray to Lerwick?
Let’s see some serious flyering here, people. Get yourself along the A9. The bit through the Cairngorms is particularly good.
Let’s get Korean contortionists on Thurso High Street and unicycling mime artists on St Kilda. They don’t know it’s uninhabited. It’ll take them three weeks to notice.
When it comes to the Fringe, this is not my first rodeo. This is something like my 19th Fringe. Might be my 20th. I can’t actually remember. It’s a lot, anyway, but it still came as a shock the other day to be introduced to some young bright folk at their very first run round the block as a “war weary, battle hardened veteran of the Fringe”, which makes me sound like one of those growling, bad tempered characters you get in every war movie, lurking in the shadows to warn the glittering, rock jawed, square shouldered leading man that it’s all for naught and that no-one will care and …oh, hang on… that’s exactly what I do, come to think of it…
Join debate on dangerous ideas
And I may scream and moan and complain, but here I am again, only this year I’m working in the afternoon, which has well messed up my Fringe Body Clock.
If you fancy your Fringe with a bit of thought, debate and discussion, then come along to The Famous Spiegeltent on George Street between 12 and 5. We’re hosting some serious good stuff for grown ups, and we’d love you to join in with debates at The Cabaret Of Dangerous Ideas.
Should we ban smoking in front of children in your own home, should we fear the rise of the robots, and would it improve Edinburgh if we demolished Morningside?
Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, every afternoon, coffee, scones and food for thought. Bring your brain.