Susan Morrison: Talk tent if you flirt with a yurt

Yurts at the Book Festival may lead to serious cases of yurt envy. Picture: COLIN HATTERSLEY
Yurts at the Book Festival may lead to serious cases of yurt envy. Picture: COLIN HATTERSLEY
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In past Fringes, I’ve been in a basement comedy club at night. For years, August has been as dark as November to me, as I went to work in darkness, went home in darkness and pretty much stayed firmly under my duvet in darkness, until it was time to get up and do the whole thing again.

This year has been something of a shock to my system. I am in a yurt in the afternoon, during daylight hours, and although the weather has been a tad Novemberish, it’s been most pleasant.

There is something terribly satisfying about standing beside a tent in the middle of the city, watching the world go by. Why, I might just announce myself as a one-woman protest movement and move in permanently.

My yurt, or as the Mongolians call it, a ger, is in St Andrews Square. These Mongolians knew a thing or two about Scottish summers because it’s a cosy little home in the teeth of the unseasonable wind and rain.

Our steppe-dwelling cousins appear to be on the short side, because the door is at almost exactly the right height to wallop anyone over five foot in height, whereas those of us of Glaswegian stature can stride confidently in without breaking stride or ducking down. Audience arrivals are punctuated by the constant thunk of taller heads colliding with wood. It’s an odd experience to walk on stage and know at least half of the audience has concussion.

It’s very hobbit-like. I have a terrible desire to take up a pipe and wear a waistcoat to tuck my thumbs in, so I can blow smoke rings as I watch the tourists take photographs of the trams. My feet do tend to be quite hairy, so that’s a start.

So I was content beside my little canvas world, until author Louise Welch – yep, I’ve taken up name-dropping, what can I say, it’s the Fringe – invited me to do an event at the Book Festival.

They have a yurt, too. In fact, they have interlocking yurts, with cosy sofas and cushions and fairy lights and – get this – a wood-burning stove. This is a superyurt. They also had Ian Rankin, but to be fair, I don’t think he’s a permanent fixture. Yes, I’m name dropping-again.

I went back to my erstwhile happy hobbit home and felt my lower lip start to stick out. I had a bad case of yurt-envy.

Then it has occurred to me that the salient feature of a yurt is that it can be packed up and loaded onto a yak and transported with ease.

So, now all I need is some Mongolian tribesmen to sneak into Charlotte Square with a yak and bundle up the yurt, the sofas, the fairy lights and Ian Rankin and transport them back to St Andrews Square, and the superyurt is mine.

Gator story – make it snappy

The weather has been particularly biblical, what with thunder, lightning, galeforce winds and rain on a scale that would have brought a smile to the face of Cecil B DeMille.

A gentleman from Florida was forced to take shelter in my yurt during the worst of it, and I found myself apologising for the downpour. Oh, he said, not to worry, Florida gets monsoon standard rainstorms, so this was quite normal for him.

In addition, he said, sometimes the stormdrains flood, and this is a problem because it can wash alligators into the downtown area.

Jings, we think we have problems with angry squirrels. How on earth would the council deal with snapping alligators rampaging along Princes Street? Mind you, during the Fringe, would we notice?

Taking flyer off your captive audience

A friend of mine is looking after a terribly small venue. I think it seats 30 at most. One afternoon show is finding it a bit hard to attract an audience, but last week the numbers made it into double figures, and the show was going really well, despite the fact that the performers were struggling to get themselves heard above the thunder and the heavy rain.

When they finished, the entire audience applauded, then stood up and started to flyer each other.

Every single one, without fail, was a flyerer for other Fringe shows who had come in out of the rain.

Which makes me think if all the young folk handing out flyers could all just get together they could schedule their appearance at various performances, then hand their flyers to each other and move onto the next show.

Acts get audiences, flyer folk stay dry. Everyone wins.