Fringe Benefits No. 2

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you must be prepared to collect unconscionable amounts of crap

Day two and it had to be too good to be true. We had the usual four seasons in a  day (mostly autumn). Not that spirits were to be dampened.  Culturally we had a bit of everything. The Textiliste did her tapestry (and wants more). The Lawyer, the Beautician and I tried theatre, comedy, political comment, radio recording and cabaret and we ended with a splendid meal.

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try harder boys

Let’s start with food. Edinburgh, a befits a culturally aware city, has its food pluses. There are a number of good, independent cafes. Black Medicine, the Elephant and Bagel and one we haven’t yet tried but which comes highly recommended, Earthys. We knew of Oink – roast suckling pig, on Cowgate, just down from the High Street -the café that, reputedly played host to JK Rowling when she was penniless and writing the early Potter books looks down on Cowgate. What can I say about it? That they big up the relationship and it still befits those with little money (oh, beeeetch). Anyway it isn’t on my recommended list. There’s also the Baked Potato Shop which is grubby, tiny and AWESOME. These are but a smattering of the quick bite places. For a more solid repast we’d recommend David Bann – a truly excellent vegetarian restaurant and the Grain Store (where we ate with friends last night) – fish and meat with a solid menu to support it.

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Would Wally Scott have approved of the fringe? Would he like his own monument?

One thing I love about Edinburgh is the sense that the builders just decided to build one level and then another on top but turned through 30 degrees. As a result there are passages and stairs and corners and whatnots – with lovely quaint titles like ‘Jacob’s Wynd’.  You can walk Edinburgh easily (if you don’t mind stairs and hills) and you are often rewarded with stunning views (more tomorrow). But these passages are brilliant for the explorer or the committed rat-runner. Sometimes, as with the Grain Store you enter a door at the bottom, thinking you are entering the restaurant to be confronted by what are clearly outside stairs with a metal balustrade but inside the building. Up you go to find, through yet another front door the restaurant. It feels Harry Potteresque, which isn’t a surprise all things considered.

Around the food, what did we see?

The Bite-sized Breakfast

We’ve tried the BSB before. The group do 5 short plays in an hour and the quality is usually uniformly good. They also provide a croissant, strawberry and tea or coffee in the price of the ticket. Today the plays covered: an audition for superhero Mothra trying to recapture its lost power by working in a cheap ghost movie; a news broadcast on WW1 in the style of 24 hour rolling news and punning headlines. ‘The Kaiser’s gone and Ver-dun it this time’; a daughter coming out as heterosexual and the embarrassment it will cause; a failed violinist arguing with the hand he blames for the failure; and best of all, two girls living their relationship via text speak and emoticons with tragic results. Today’s selection was a bit mixed – the audition idea flopped thought the others had us laughing and thinking; it is a good way to ease into the day. And tomorrow there’s another 5 to enjoy. ♥♥♥

Steve Richards – Rock n Roll Politics Special

Now I’ll be honest here. I cocked up. See the big group venues aren’t all in the same place. Fr’instance the Assembly has venues on George Street on one side of Edinburgh and another around George Square a good 25 mins away. I led the Lawyer and the Beautician on a forced march to one. We made it with 5 minutes to spare, only to find it was the wrong one. One we could have reached in 5 minutes from our last show! That’s what saw us buy tickets to Steve Richards. Steve writes for  the Indy and is an panelist on Newsnight type programs. Today he talked about politician’s dilemmas focusing on the Scottish independence referendum and the upcoming 2015 election. He is amusing, and thought provoking and I came away with two intriguing notions.

Notion one: both Alex Salmond, ostensibly wanting independence and David Cameron, seemingly wanting the Union wouldn’t mind losing. In Salmond’s case he’s already been promised more powers, esp. Tax raising – devo-max they call it – so by staying in the Union, leaving Westminster with defence and foreign affairs, he’s out of the grubby world of international double dealing (just domestic chicanery for him) but he still has someone to blame if things go tits up; for Cameron he leads a Tory party who all the psephologists say will be guaranteed a majority if only England and Wales vote – it is Scotland that keeps Labour in the game. Yet they both bang on with a passion for the other camps.

Notion two: no party thinks they can win the next election and all parties are scared rigid about the next mistake. Richards made a telling point using food as his metaphor. Miliband ate a bacon sandwich – a PR stunt that was crass even for a lapsed Jew; he ate it so badly he was ridiculed. So much so he called a press conference to explain how bad he was at such things and people just had to live with that. Probably, says Richards, voters will forget quickly but the papers and the oppo won’t. He will be haunted by bacon. Cameron said he ate a Cornish pasty (remember the tax raised on said pasties?); to damp down the scandal – can an Eton toff really eat the food of the common man? – he claimed his last one was bought on Leeds station. A day later  the headline was ‘Leeds station say they haven’t sold pasties for 15 years’. The voters will forget but… Etc etc.

An amusing hour, no more. ♥♥

Couples who Changed the World

This was great. The set up was the recording of a radio play in which Henry Ford, a failed actor, steals Adolf Hitler’s design for a beetle shaped car, having met him on Adolf’s gap year in a San Francisco gay bar. The two challenge each other to a race to the death with Herman the Beetle to be the hero. Eva, a scouse chip shop worker ends up with a baby that might belong to either man. Surprisingly funny, hilarious in parts. ♥♥♥

Fascinating Aida

We saved the best to last. The Textiliste and I have seen these ladies before and they are fab. The set up is cabaret style with lots of songs but the subject matter ranges from the hootingly funny to the tearfully poignant. Best are their most well known songs – Dogging and Cheap Flights but now Boomerang Kids must be added. Catch them if you can and in the meantime I’ve linked to YouTube for the first two for you. ♥♥♥♥

That was it. We had a lovely dinner, the Lawyer and the Beautician caught another comedy and we went to bed replete.

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a wet end to the night, looking back towards the castle as the fireworks go off.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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8 Responses to Fringe Benefits No. 2

  1. Archaeologist says:

    The city sounds fascinating, one of these days I must go and have an explore. In the meantime I have a curious description of Edinburgh I would like to share. But as it would make a longish response to your blog I thought I would send it to you separately to see if it you might like to post it as a separate blog (perhaps when you return exhausted from your trip).
    It comes from my favourite Jules Verne story which not only incudes one of his few believable heroines ( believable apart from her incredible life story) and what I suspect is the first Snowy Owl in literature.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Cindi says:

    I’d read and responded to one of your later Fringe posts yesterday — or was it the day before? I’ve lost a few days lately, I think! — but tonight I’m so enjoying getting caught up with the first part of your trip! The train to get there, the shows you’ve seen so far. Fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      One story we heard that will appeal to you relates to Steve Richards and the Scottish Independent debate. Inevitably they have taken a lot of opinion polls to see who is yes and who is no. The only place where the results didn’t turn up either a yes or no were the Orkneys who wanted to go back to be part of Norway!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Charli Mills says:

    Stunning to hear of how the city is built. Having read all the Potters, it makes me envision the influences the city had on JK Rowling. It was in her books I first encountered the word snogging. Tonight the fine lady of Fascinating Aida introduced me to dogging! Ha! Oh, I love good cabaret and it was very popular in the “wild west” and had bawdy influences upon cowboy culture in places lake Abilene. What a fun day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Is dogging an English construct? There you go. It is a dangerous expression I have found. Might even be evidence I need some therapy. We had a barbecue a couple of weeks ago and the Beautician and I were in the kitchen. ‘We might go on to the pub after?’ Now the question I was after was to ascertains high pub, the most likely being the Fox and Greyhound but known locally as The Dog. But instead of asking ‘The Dog’ I found myself saying ‘Dogging?’ Which is, frankly a wholly inappropriate thing to say to ones son’s girlfriend. If the hysterical laughter that ensued is a sign, she took it in good part.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        Ha, ha! That’s one way to bond with family and friends–let’s go dogging after this bloody boring BBQ! It must be an English construct because the Hub hadn’t heard of it and I thought he knew all existing euphemisms, especially from all the rugby songs he knows. In the US “dogging” is a term that means to go after something persistently. There must be an edge of tenacity to the English version! 😉


      • TanGental says:

        oddly enough the same expression was in use in the 70s in our rugby team at Bristol university when I was there – if things became difficult we’d say we would ‘just keep doggin’ on’ though they wouldn’t say it today.


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