Susan Morrison: Poltergeists, hot wax and a load of dangerous ideas

Fringe crowds on the Royal Mile
Fringe crowds on the Royal Mile
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Naturally, just as the Fringe got underway, the weather threw a theatrical tantrum and went in for a spot of torrential rain and sudden sunshine. Steam ­actually rose from the York Place pavements for a few minutes, giving the whole city a simmering tropical mystique. Miss Saigon?

Take a stroll in the New Town. Clearly the weather gods are acting up because they never get a reviewer in for the Fringe.

Susan never wants to hear Shakin' Steves This Ole House again

Susan never wants to hear Shakin' Steves This Ole House again

I’m in two venues right now. In the New Town Theatre up on George Street I’m working with an amazing bunch of academics in The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas.

Researchers, professors and generally incredibly clever boys and girls from our universities venture out and present provocative ideas to the ­public, who then ask the brainy bunch questions.

The joy of watching Mr, Mrs, Ms and Persons Non-binary fire seriously left-field questions at academics is that the academics haven’t always thought of that one particular little bit of weirdness in their research and both questioner and presenter simultaneously beam at each other with excitement. It’s a sight to behold.

We have two shows a day. The evening one is called CoDi by Candlelight. Now, don’t panic, we have ­battery-powered candles. Last year we did have real candles, but an accordion playing academic stomping her feet on a temporary stage in time to a Parisian inspired ballad of love and loss made the entire edifice sway and the real candles nearly ended up in the front row, had they not been seized by an alert stagehand and the MC. Hot wax hurts. Last year, our venue was mildly plagued by falling curtains, moving mic stands and a huge cardboard box that moved about mysteriously, ready to trap the unwary running through from one side of the venue to the other.

Not a member of the New Town Theatre gang was without bruises. There was a cracker on my bahookie almost exactly the same shape as the North Lanarkshire council boundaries, a vicious insult to brand on the jacksie of a Glasgow-born Leither. Clearly a poltergeist was at work. In a fit of temper, triggered by a bruised backside, I named her Petunia.

She seems to have mellowed a little this year. Possibly got a taste for the limelight?

The second venue is The Stand Comedy Club. Timing-wise, I haven’t thought this through. This show is at 5pm. This means I have a daily scuttle between George Street and York Place. From the air, I must look like a little rat in a particularly simple maze trying to find the cheese and failing every time.

However, on one hand this is a good thing, because I get to walk through the ­biggest free show in town, the tourists.

The little boy who stopped bang in front of me on North St Andrew Street and pointed to that glorious view across the Forth and screamed “America!” is my current favourite.

On the other hand, it does rather reinforce the widely held belief that I have the organisational abilities of a small fat rat in a very dull maze, which I think puts me in pole position for any job involving planning Brexit. Let’s face it, I couldn’t do any worse.

This cancer malarkey has got me feeling a wee bit Shakey

I did have a breakout of sensible once. About ten years ago in a fit of grown-upness, I organised an insurance policy to cover me if I ever got a Very Bad Illness. Well, what a surprise, I have, and so I thought I should contact said insurers to give them the lowdown, get the ball rolling and forms filled and what have you.

I called the number and joined the queue. Shakin’ Stevens felt like an odd choice for music on hold. He’s a lovely chap, but his 80s hits were scarce, so the rotation is fairly limited.

By the time I’d been hit with This Ole House for the ninth time, I had rather lost the will to live, but hung on, because that’s a claim on a different number.

Finally, a young woman with a beautiful Welsh accent answered. Ah, she said, when was your surgery? I haven’t had it yet. I was calling to sort things out before it, which I thought sensible, I said. Ohhhh, she said in a trilling voice that I could hear echo through the valleys, you’ve got cancer and you’re just walking about? Yes, I said. It’s cancer, not the zombie apocalypse. I’m not lurching about drooling blood and threatening to bite people, so I can still walk about.

Also, it’s breast cancer, I said. I don’t use my boobs to walk. They may do in Wales, hence her shock.

Oh, she said, right enough. I’ll send a form. You can download it from our website, she added helpfully. I need never have listened to Shakin’ Stevens. I can still hear Green Door . . .