The Fringe has landed. I could tell the performers of the world had arrived when I was driving home at around midnight on Tuesday and an octopus crossed the road towing a case.
They are lovely, in the main. For many, this will be their first Fringe, and jolly excited they will be. You will recognise them by their sheer exuberance, and the size of their cases.
They will take pictures of the Castle. They will almost certainly stop right in front of you on Princes Street to do that, and they will almost certainly line up everyone involved in ‘The Lighter Side of Kim Jong-un’ to do it. You will almost certainly be in a hurry.
They will try to flyer you and tell you what the show is about and laugh with gentle disbelief when you glance at the flyer advertising a searing indictment of the failure of the capitalist system set against the sweeping drama of immediate post-war Europe, events which threaten to tear apart a pair of passionate lovers, as seen through the eyes of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends and say: “Yeah, saw that about four years ago. Tunnel of Love, it was called then.
“Gordon the Big Green Engine got the girl in the end. Well, I say girl. It was Clarabel the Coach. Poor Thomas. Went completely off the rails after that. Well, I think that’s what happened. It was performed entirely in Russian, for some reason. Hang on, that might have been a train-based version of Dr Zhivago”
Our new little recruits to the Fringe will almost certainly be surprised and perhaps a little dismayed to find out just how many shows there are here in three short weeks, and trust me people, I know that it may not seem that way right now, but it is just three short weeks, and then we can look forward to the six-week extravaganza that is Christmas and Hogmanay.
Meanwhile, watching the incoming tide with the narrow-eyed gaze of Quint the shark hunter in Jaws, there sit the battle-hardened veterans. We can be spotted by the slightly battered air, and usually with the gentle sound of a vitamin drink like Berocca fizzing away close to hand.
Time goes askew for us in August. It’s like that week between Christmas and New Year, when no one can remember exactly what day it really is, or what time it is. A vampire lifestyle means that white wine is a breakfast drink and an awful lot of us see the sun coming up far more regularly than we usually do.
Obviously, if my consultant is reading this, not me. That’s not legally binding, is it?
The case of the travelling beetle
Boy, are those cases getting bigger. Yesterday I watched a troupe of tiny people tow baggage big enough to stow an entire back up cast for Ben Hur – The Musical, including horses for the chariot scene.
I blame these wheeled contraptions. When I was a gel, it was what you could carry on your back. I went travelling with a rucksack so big, all you could see from the back was a canvas wall of buckles, pockets and zips with a pair of sturdy little Glaswegian legs sticking out underneath. I must have looked like a sort of giant beetle.
Sitting down was problematic, because standing up again was an issue. Two policemen levered me upright in London, once they had stopped laughing. They didn’t realise at first that I was flailing about because I genuinely could not get up. It was a scene reminiscent of those lovely people trying to shove beached whales back into the sea.
Thank heaven that didn’t happen during the Fringe. People would just think I was punting a show and ask for flyers.
Ah, I know the Fringe will drive us all mad, but they come from all over the world to Edinburgh to entertain us. It feels like the world has sent its boys and girls to us, so we can at least smile when they try to give us that flyer they’ve sweated over in Beijing, Berlin and Birminghams, both in England and Alabama. Unless, of course, an apostrophe is in the wrong place.
Leith Street doesn’t dismisseth us any more!
Hoorah! Leith Street is open! At last the Republic of Leith is once again connected to Waverley Station. For months now getting a train meant figuring out which bus stopping where was best, but even more irksome was getting home.
Our choices were York Place for the 10, which could be incredibly dangerous, since the route could take you past TK Maxx. Everyone knows there’s a vicious crosswind on that pavement ready to carry an unwary lady straight into the shoe department, or we could schlep down to Elm Row, with the ever-present danger of John Lewis.
The day the trusty 22 stopped outside Waverley I could have hugged it.