‘Okay #Edinburgh. Time to add 20 minutes to your bus journeys as every tourist boarding mistakes the bus driver’s cab for a tourist information office. #NearlyFestivalTime’ - Liam Rudden

YOU can tell the Festival is in full swing when it takes upwards of five minutes for your bus to clear a single stop on Princes Street - the ones by the Big Wheel at the East End are the worst.

Friday, 9th August 2019, 5:07 pm
Liam Rudden, Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys and Frances Barber

It just takes one passenger boarding to have a phone they need to fiddle with, a payment card that won’t work, no exact fare, or a daysaver lost in one a voluminous pocket to create havoc.

As they stab at the buttons on their phone, bang their card on the scanner for the umpteenth time, scrabble in pockets for loose coins, or the afore mentioned daysaver, people seem to appear from nowhere to join the queue to get on - a bit like Mr Benn but without the subsequent adventure.

I was reminded of this at the start of the Festival when a tweet I posted last year suddenly went viral when it was rediscovered and became the subject of numerous re tweets - it’s what they call a ‘Zombie Tweet’, I’m told.

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This one, from July 2018, simply said: ‘Okay #Edinburgh. Time to add 20 minutes to your bus journeys as every tourist boarding mistakes the bus driver’s cab for a tourist information office. #NearlyFestivalTime’

It has clearly struck a chord again this year - remember, you can follow me @LiamRudden if you’re so inclined.

The good thing about this state of affairs is that I always manage to loose weight during the Fringe.

It really is easier and quicker to walk from A to B at this time of year - sticking to the back streets and shortcuts away from the dawdling tourists obviously.

Now, there was a time, as a freelancer, when I would sit through five shows a day during the Fringe, firing off reviews between performances.

Those days are long gone. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it. So far this year I’ve seen just one (not counting my own shows).

The weather doesn’t always help either. Early sunny days turned many venues into saunas. Then the rain came, it’s never nice to spend an hour soaked to the skin crammed into a box room with 100 other Fringe-goers. It’s certainly true that the Fringe is a great leveller.

Yes, star names, veterans, celebrities and hopeful young entertainers at the very start of their careers sit side by side in those venues in a way you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.

Last week, you could even find Basil Brush ‘guest editing’ the News and Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe in town launching their new musical with Jonathan Harvey, Musik - it stars the fabulous Frances Barber (check out my review, yes that’s the one) on line.

It was great to see them wandering George Street without being accosted. Edinburgh folk don’t get star struck (unless it’s Basil Brush, of course).

As a guest on Chris Biggins’ Late Lunch Chat Show another day, I was struck by the way he thinks on his feet and keeps the laughs coming.

I don’t know what week two will hold, but as it approaches, I have to admit there is nowhere I’d rather be than Edinburgh in August... ‘though I do reserve the right to change my mind by week four.