Fringe benefits No. 5

2014-08-21 16.00.13

What is it all about

That’s it, our time in Edinburgh is over. I’m writing this at 00.45am (well that’s when I’m starting) sitting on a stationary train at Potter’s Bar while the unfortunate aftermath of a person hit by a train ahead is dealt with. Is he or she dead? Dreadful accident or suicide or maybe worse? It is enough to make you shudder and not complain. That however isn’t easy for my companions because we shouldn’t be on this train. The 17.30 out of Edinburgh. Instead we should have been on the 16.00 and home by now. Sadly my travel incompetence is well honed and the examples are already legion. This adds to collection. I checked the tickets this morning. The date, three reserved seats (the Lawyer was off doing his own thing). I was so sure of the time – 17.00 – that I never rechecked. We arrived at the station in plenty of time for a train that never ran and 15 minutes late for the one that did. Remarkably as I write this, I am still married.


It’s not funny!

2014-08-25 02.20.22

there were three trains’ worth of passengers behind us as we boarded our taxi

Later. 2.45am. king’s cross waiting for a taxi. Here’s what the Beautician thinks of my travel incompetence (right). At least we weren’t the last to get a cab (left).

Oh well. Back to Edinburgh and earlier in the day.

Today was sunny again. It is easy to do your 10,000 steps in the cool and dry. We took it easy, packed up, put the stuff in left luggage and set off for the Underbelly, the fat purple upsidedown cow on Bristo Square.

We had two shows left before the long journey into night.

Bottled Up

This was a Lawyer choice so I didn’t know in advance what to expect. It starts with a youngster – turns out he’s 14 – drawing the Liverpool FC logo on the floor in chalk. He’s a mad Red supporter, living with his Union boss dad. Mum has moved out and remarried someone posh. The boy likes rampaging around the Boot, the area of Liverpool where he lives, with his best friend. There are some cultural allusions that I missed, or rather thought them odd if this was set today. It was only when he compares someone’s ‘muzzie’ (aka moustache) to Tom Sellick’s that (a) it dawned on me that this was set 20 years or so ago and (b) this was going to be about Hillsborough.  The Lawyer got there first – at one point the lads steal some copies of the Sun to sell; post Hillsborough they wouldn’t be seen dead with that rag. For those reading who don’t know the background, here’s a link to a brief summary of those tragic events. Now that I knew what was coming, the tension increased, the argument with his dad before they leave for the game more powerful etc. But then we are there, in the Leppings Lane End with this young boy, buzzing with excitement that morphs into confusion, fear, horror and disbelief. It is gripping in a way that hurts. The Beautician, being born the year after the events, knew of it without the detail so we sat, between shows and I tried to explain what I understood had happened that day. I choked. I couldn’t not. It is a modern horror story made worse by the treatment of the victims’ families. I remember listening to a radio programme on a large study made of the victims’ families. It was about the impact of the death of children before the parents and because the numbers were unusually large it meant the study results were more robust than other studies.  While it is impossible to put a quantitative value on grief the tentative conclusion was the most devastated were those who lost teenager/twenty-somethings. These young people, fully formed as they were but with their potential still to be fulfilled, had the most to live for so seemed to have lost the most. I don’t know if there’s any truth in that but the notion came back to me as I tried to explain what had happened. As a parent, looking at these young people, it hurt to imagine what they and their parents went through.♥♥♥♥

Private Peaceful

What I needed was something light and fluffy. Instead we had a Michael Morpurgo story about a WW1 deserter about to be shot by firing squad. Thom Peaceful was 16, a country boy devoted to his older brother with whom he joined up. He’s in his room before the execution reviewing his life. As with the last play it is a one man show and it pulls you in all sorts of directions. I must hold my hand up and say Morpurgo is my favourite children’s author. When the Lawyer and the Vet were growing up we had audio versions of War Horse, The Butterfly Lion, Ken Suk’s Kingdom and others and listened to them on long car journeys. They are so beautifully crafted, dealing with difficult issues in an intelligent way so that children can understand them. They don’t exactly hide the horrors but they reveal them slowly and not sensationally so they don’t shock. They aren’t gratuitous in any way. But they would leave me with tears and trigger some long discussions in the car about stuff you don’t necessary expect to have to talk through with your children. If you can share these book in this way wit your own children they are excellent eye openers. Here, once more, I was in floods, an emotional wreck. Frankly how these actors cope with the emotional rollerc0aster day after day I know not. Hats off to them though. ♥♥♥♥

And that was it. It was over for another year. I had a mountain of flyers, several versions of the magazines and brochures. 2014-08-24 13.14.09This (left) is the one you really want (though the app and the website are increasingly helpful).

My top ten tips for a good Fringe then are:

  1.  1. It will rain: have a good waterproof and brolly
  2. 2. It is a walking city but there are lots of hills and steps; have good footwear
  3. 3. Remember that even if something is at ‘The Assembly’ there will be four areas covered by that tag; check the venue carefully
  4. 4. You don’t get refunds if you double book
  5. 5. Most shows say  late comers not admitted but we’ve never found that an absolute rule and, while it would be polite to comply, don’t despair
  6. Book some shows in advance (especially of you have a fav you want to see) but leave lots of space in your diary for shows you hear about when you are there. The Scotsman and the  Guardian have good reviewers and people you meet will also pass on good tips
  7. Make sure you check out some of the city. The art side is great too.
  8. If you can get accommodation off the Royal Mile or around the venues (like the Pleasance which is a student area) do so; don’t waste your days on traveling in and out; all you need it a bed – you don’t spend much time there, and you can eat cheaply and well (for the UK) in Edinburgh.
  9. In my view the Pleasance has the best comedy which you may not have heard of (the star ratings are usually a fair guide but be wary of ‘four stars for the last two years’ – quality doesn’t always repeat); the Assembly for serious drama, docu-type shows.
  10. Just GO.

On the way back I managed a photo of the bridges over the Tyne at Newcastle. Not sure it really captures the magic of the place. It seemed to be a satisfying end… until it all went pear-shaped!

2014-08-24 19.15.51

For Anne



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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6 Responses to Fringe benefits No. 5

  1. Cindi says:

    In 1989 I was a housewife/mom of young girls living in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, with no interest in European football. I know I’ve read about the Hillsborough disaster since then, but thank you for the link for me to read more of the facts. What a tragedy; like you, it hurts to imagine what the parents went through. A true modern horror story.

    I hope your journey home was uneventful after your stop for another tragedy.

    Thank you for sharing your entire Fringe experience!


  2. lorilschafer says:

    Sounds as if you had a wonderful time – and the mishap at the end just adds to the experience, right? Ahem. Well, I’m glad you’re still married, at any rate. 🙂


  3. Charli Mills says:

    No trip is complete without an adventurous blunder (said by the person in my family who usually is responsible for such). This was a marvelous trip and I actually feel qualified to do this one day.


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