Fiona Duff: For real class Ascot’s not even at the races

Elaine C Smith helped raise laughs and a lot of money at the Leuchie House benefit. Picture: Robert Perry
Elaine C Smith helped raise laughs and a lot of money at the Leuchie House benefit. Picture: Robert Perry
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So last Thursday some of you might have been aware that it was Ladies Day at Ascot. Women with large budgets to buy oversized hats were there in their droves.

And guess what? I wasn’t with them. Instead I was at a charity lunch at Leuchie House near North Berwick.

Andy Gray and Grant Stott'to are bringing new play Double Feature to the Fringe

Andy Gray and Grant Stott'to are bringing new play Double Feature to the Fringe

We wore nice dresses (obviously some a lot nicer than mine, bought last year at 70 per cent discount at the Frasers sale) and hats and paid to be given a horse in three of the races, shown live on big screens.

I had never heard of Leuchie House but it is obviously a marvellous place offering respite for many who have incurable diseases which in turn gives their carers some well needed time off.

The support was amazing – Scotland’s Queen of Mirth, Elaine C Smith gave her talent and time for hee haw and helped raise laughs and a lot of money. Being a Glaswegian she gave the east coasters a right good slagging, but all in the best possible taste.

There was an auction after the lunch. By this time drink had been taken and wallets definitely loosened as lots were going for thousands of pounds. Then at 5pm a band, put together by Chris Thomson of Cafe Jaques (ask your parents), took to the stage and gave it laldy, which was especially impressive as they had never played as a fivesome before. In fact the American bass player told me that he didn’t even know some of the songs on the set list put together between one of the races.

As I mentioned, the generosity in that marquee was incredible and one guest offered £500 for Ms Smith to sing with the band, which was a treat in itself. You’ll be glad to know that I had offered to drive Him Outdoors home so it wasn’t me flashing my credit card.

However, whilst I may not have contributed as much as some, we did leave knowing that we had helped a wonderful place do great things which might be more than those down south felt as they eased their way home.

These two tickle my funny bone

I hope that my husband doesn’t read this. There are a couple of chaps of whom I am rather fond – they make me laugh and if that isn’t the way to a woman’s heart I know not what it might be.

Anyway, I plan to see them in August. I know that they are going to be quite close to our home I just won’t be able to resist visiting them, however much I try.

Actually – I lead you a merry dance as I am only talking about Andy Gray and Grant Stott, who are getting back together for another Fringe outing.

I only have to see these two on stage and I burst into fits of giggles, which is probably a good thing as I am not sure I could cope with them doing a Shakespearian tragedy. The audience would be appalled at me tittering away.

Their new play for this year is called Double Feature and is written by Phil Differ who knows a fair bit about comedy, having written for Not The 9 O’Clock News, Spitting Image and Chewin’ The Fat, so I don’t think that there will be any shortage of gaffaws. Even better it is at the Gilded Balloon’s new venue in Rose Street which is a mere hop, skip and stumble from my gaff. In meantime, I just need to find the husband’s diary and book us some tickets because I doubt that jealousy will come into it, because having to live with me means that he’s always up for looking for a bit of light entertainment.

Form an orderly queue, ladies

Talking about two lovely chaps at the Fringe my eye was drawn to a particular act this year which I feel might appeal to anyone who may have been charged with organising a hen night.

The Naked Magicians will be appearing at The Assembly Rooms on George Street for most of the month of August.

I have seen photographs and I can tell you that the two laddies in question are strangers to neither a gym nor waxing salon.

However, if they want help finding that white rabbit I’ll leave that to a bride-to-be.

It’s a rubbish way to handle recycling bins

Now I like to think of myself as a fairly good citizen of both Edinburgh and the world. I recycle as much as I can as, unlike Donald Trump, I think that we have to do something about global warming and the mess in which this planet lies. So I often head to Craigleith shopping centre with a car bootful (hey, I know what you are thinking but it is neither a gas guzzling 4x4 nor diesel) of cardboard, plastic and newspapers. Can I tell you how often I arrive to find those huge recycling crates spewing stuff on to the ground below having not been emptied in order to be refilled.

I know that companies organising them make a huge amount of money – heck where’s there’s muck there is brass that is for sure – and Sainsbury’s is not short of a bob or two so why on earth is it so badly managed? To be honest it is a complete disgrace and someone should be hanging their head in shame rather than rubbing their greasy hands as they head to the bank.

I imagine the council say that it isn’t their problem, but whilst they have buses with big advertisements for ‘Eden-burgh’ they need to keep an eye on this. We, the people who pay council tax which funds all these erroneous marketing campaigns are doing our bit – I mean have you been to the big recycling centre in Seafield on a Saturday afternoon? It makes Piccadilly Circus look like a beach on Tiree. They are actually well managed with plenty if staff to help.

However, outsourcing to supermarkets and making outside organisations responsible for this business isn’t the answer if they can’t cope and I wonder if they are being overseen in a suitable manner. Sadly I doubt that they are.