Fringe preview: Tom Ward - Sex, Snails... and Cassette Tapes

comedian Tom Ward makes his Fringe debut this month in the bizarrely titled Sex, Snails... and Cassette Tapes. That said, it's no stranger a show title than many of the others on posters around the Capital in August. A man who loves the minor detail, the unsung hero and the untold story the mop-haired funnyman's show celebrates life for all its '˜sexy' little touches, like learning to trust Tupperware again after one has leaked in your bag. Expect an hour of tales, voices and sound effects, he night even touch on his love of charity shops, here he explains the attraction...

Tom Ward stand-up
Tom Ward stand-up

“I like to think I know a thing or two about charity shops – not just because I enjoy a browse every now and again, but because I use to work in one.

I became manager in fact, oh yes, that’s right, a manager. And it seemed a wasted opportunity not to, so I lived in the shop too, setting up camp in the storage room with a fold-up bed and a nice old television.

The sink provided an excellent shower, the kettle was perfect for making pasta in. Charity begins at home. Or was it the other way round?

I genuinely believe you can’t beat a good charity shop, the joy of walking in and not really having a clue what you’re looking for. Is there any other experience quite like it?

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    And all these people who are so good at throwing things out. I don’t know how they do it... what about emotional bonds?

    In Edinburgh, Nicolson Street’s your street, of course, and for me it’s all about PDSA.

    Modern charity shops can look like they’ve had a bit too much Botox, but PDSA champions the wrinkle.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s tidy and organised and has a nice sign and doesn’t smell like 1992, but it still feels like a charity shop, like the charity shops we grew up with, the ones we have tales about, where your eyes glaze over as you share your stories, “These? Oh! Well let me tell you...”


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    The PDSA shop also seems to change a lot every day, with weird stuff just appearing like magic.

    Last time I went in they had floor to ceiling boxed bowling shoes, and “more out the back,” I was assured.

    So now you’re walking up and down, looking in three different mirrors... even got a stranger commenting, “They look nice...” - strangers like to join in charity shops - and you’re feeling the impact these shoes would have on your life.

    And yet somewhere, even with that (and even in the nicest of the mirrors) you know that you’re just not a bowling shoe kind of man. You’ve merely been shown a tiny glimpse of an alternate reality and, reluctantly, you put them back. Or you just ignore that feeling, wear your new shoes 50 metres down the road for dinner at The Mosque Kitchen then put them back in your bag never to be worn again.”


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    Tom Ward: Sex, Snails... and Cassette Tapes, Pleasance Courtyard Cellar, 9.45pm, £8.50-£9.50, 0131-226 0000