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On the Fringes: A Long Weekend in Edinburgh

On the Fringes: A Long Weekend in Edinburgh

Right now I am recovering from a particularly unpleasant throat ache. It literally feels like a tiny, bitter lumberjack has been quietly hacking away at my voice box. My poor ears feel like they’ve been unceremoniously stuffed with sand.

Despite this, I am in good spirits. You see I rarely get ill, owing in part to my pretty healthy (and totally tedious) lifestyle. The very fact of me being ill means that I have had some genuine FUN. For once I have dropped the dull façade of a dispirited twenty-something and embraced the ‘You Only Live Once’ attitude (known as YOLO to the hip at heart) that my generation is so good at.

The four days I spent at Edinburgh Fringe Festival were, for want of a better word, FUN. Pure, unadulterated fun. This is the second time I’ve been lucky enough to attend the festival, and I sure as hell hope I get to go back again someday. With its cosmopolitan vibe and kooky Scottish charm, Edinburgh is the perfect stage for up-and-coming comedians, actors and performers. There’s something nice, too, about a festival where the likelihood of wading through knee-deep mud is very low. Unless you’re at The Hive, that is. We saw seven acts in total – a lucky number for some. Below I’ve scribbled a few words about each one!

Hot Dub Time Machine

How can I describe this? I would say ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ but that doesn’t quite do it justice. This amazing club night took us through a ‘time machine’ of music, starting from 1954 and ending in the present day. A super enthusiastic DJ manned the decks while an on-screen Aussie flight hostess took us through our paces. It was so good that our muscles ached the next day. Now that’s what I call clubbing.

Reginald D. Hunter – Work in Progress

I didn’t really know much about Reginald D. Hunter before going to see him. I’m one of those people who is happy to tag along and see something if the opportunity arises. So it was that I ended up sitting in a room stuffed full of people and trying my hardest not to wrinkle my brow as this ‘comedian’ spent an hour mouthing off about women. Sure, he did it in an intellectual way so that it couldn’t be misconstrued as misogyny. I just wasn’t buying it.

Out of the Blue

As always, this cheeky band of Oxford boys brought laughs and applause a-plenty. Along with some truly fabulous renditions of California Girls and Mambo No. 5 there was a new skit about a human drum kit and some more mellow tunes that really showcased their fantastic voices. The line-up changes every few years or so, but hopefully the band will stand the test of time. This acapella troupe really blows the brats from Glee out of the water.

The Ladyboys of Bangkok: Carnival Queens

The Thai lovelies never fail to disappoint with their terrible lip-synching and risqué costume changes. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Britney were all immortalised as was living legend Tina Turner (complete with fabulous ‘eighties mullet). At one point, some giant beach balls were chucked around the crowd. It’s just that kinda show. Polite as always, the gang thanked their Scottish hosts by donning kilts for a moving rendition of Loch Lomond. I did spend some time searching for tell-tale bulges but honestly, there wasn’t even a hint of one. These ‘ladies’ know how to tuck!

Eastend Cabaret: Notoriously Kinky

Ever heard of a ‘danger wank’? Neither had I, until I saw this show. In a dingy, dungeon-like room in the Udderbelly the Eastend Cabaret coined the term. Sporting fabulously OTT costumes, this dynamic duo sang cheeky songs about everything from de-flowering to necrophilia, with a little bit of unrequited love thrown in for good measure.

The 27 Club

We’ve all heard of the 27 club – that tortured (but brilliant) gaggle of musicians who died bizarrely young. Set in one of the charming circus themed arenas, this show had arguably bagged the best location. The performance itself however was a bit, well, lacking. The singers, especially the buxom blonde lady who sang Janis Joplin’s hit tune ‘Another Little Piece of My Heart,’ were really talented, but they just didn’t match up to the real thing. Some of the ‘filler’ songs which told the story of each member’s death went on a little too long and I occasionally found myself zoning out. The best part of the show was hearing about the suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths of these musical legends. I didn’t, for instance, know that the bullet from Kurt Cobain’s gun was found at the wrong side of his body for a suicide (he was left-handed).

Translunar Paradise

This play mime told the story of an old man who had recently lost his wife and was reminiscing about their time together. I have to say; this show wasn’t really my thing. Much as I appreciate theatre, I am by nature a wordsmith, so a story without spoken language doesn’t really appeal to me. Having said that, the acting was fantastic and the eerie mood set by the accordionist was spot on. The old people masks were terrifyingly realistic, and the minimal use of props was pretty admirable.

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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Travel, Uncategorized

 

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The Green Man Cometh: A Festival Diary

Thursday

We managed to get most of our things to the campsite in just one journey courtesy of a large blue trolley called ‘Bradley.’  Thankfully we also assembled our ridiculously large (and slightly ripped) tent before the downpour of rain began. The sense of achievement borne of our endeavours soon wore off however when our raincoats soaked right through due to the never-ending rain. In a moment of desperation we bought a couple of ponchos for two pounds each (green ponchos, naturally).

Aided by a couple of cans of Morgan’s Spiced Rum and Coke (always a winning combination), we braved the rain to explore the little shops and food stalls The Green Man had to offer. The Chai Wallah tent proved on several occasions to be the perfect sanctuary from the rain with its chilled atmos, reggae beats, and its delicious offerings of  Baileys Hot Chocolate and ‘herbal shots.’ Eager to enjoy the full festival experience we also had a go on a shisha pipe (double apple flavour), which was much nicer than expected.

Discovering, in our fairly tipsy state, what we thought was a giant wooden elephant (in reality it was an inflatable) half hidden amongst the trees at the other side of a lake with multi-coloured lights on it was definitely one of the most surreal moments of my life.

Friday

Got woken up by a girl from a nearby camp exclaiming, ‘She said there was a shit in her cider!’ Definitely the highlight of my morning.

When we were making our way into the arena we spotted a giant Buckaroo donkey and mouse trap game in the Kid’s Area and briefly wished we were five years old again. As there was nothing we particularly wanted to see before one o’clock, we headed over to the Comedy and Literature tent where we attempted to take part in ‘The Green Man Music Quiz.’ We had the misfortune of sitting behind a group of what could only be described as music nerds. They seemed to know the answer to every question; We knew the answer to two, guessed about four and left the rest blank. Needless to say when it came to swapping our answer sheets with our neighbours we declined their offer and made a swift exit.

The rest of the day went by in a hungover, tired haze. I missed Beirut’s last three songs as I somehow managed to fall asleep in my camping chair at about half ten. I must’ve looked very much like an old woman, falling asleep in my wooly hat with a bin bag protecting my legs from the rain. How very rock n’ roll.

Saturday

Today we had our first glimpse of the gothic Morris dancers from the Welsh/English borders known as ‘Widders.’ Their get-up is a bit like a more sinister version of  what Raven (from the CBBC show) wears, and they have black painted faces. The story goes that there was once a time that their dancing was forbidden, so they disguised themselves and continued to dance in secret, safe in the knowledge that they were unrecognisable to their employers.

Sat through the entire set of a really good indie-folk band called The Wave Pictures, whose lead singer resembled a fair-haired Frodo. A group of half naked twenty-somethings complemented the music with their impressive hula-hoop dancing skills (we later spotted the happy troupe covered in mud but loving every minute of it!).

Managed to fall asleep yet again while watching a mellow-voiced Welsh singer at The Green Man Pub, this time while I was sat on the ground leaning against a wall. Think I might be one of those annoying people who can sleep absolutely anywhere.

Hearing Billy Bragg sing ‘A New England’ was the perfect end to a wonderful evening. Felt a bit emotional as I sang along with the crowd; it’s one of my all time favourite songs and to hear Billy sing it live was something else.

Sunday

The cinema tent was our morning hang-out place as we watched Welsh band ‘Sweet Baboo’ and their surreal accompanying visuals on a big screen (at one point it showed a woman ‘giving birth’ to a baby made entirely of sweets).

Saw Charlotte Church at The Green Man Pub enjoying a pint and trying to be anonymous with singer friend Jonathan Powell who had performed earlier. Later we had our photograph taken by a man named Gideon Mendel, who we discovered was a relatively well-known South African photographer.

In the Far Out tent we heard the funky folk sound of bearded trio ‘Megafaun.’ I hadn’t heard of them before but they proved to be really popular; within minutes of them starting their set everyone in the tent was on their feet dancing!

When evening came so did the torrential rain, so we headed back to the cinema tent in an effort to keep dry and warm. Sat through some mess called ‘Cock Diesel’ (an appropriate name for an absolutely terrible film) which appeared to be about retro motorbikes.

Thankfully the rain eased off in time for Mumford & Sons’ brilliant performance on the main stage. The acts that followed them, Tindersticks and Joanna Newsom, were pale in comparison. Joanna Newsom’s strange harp melodies coupled with her eerily high voice (think Kate Bush, Wuthering Heights) produced a sound that was totally surreal, and not in a good way.

The highlight of the evening was the burning of The Green Man, a majestic ent-like figure made of bark who sat atop a wooden throne. We managed to secure a place at the front (getting abs0lutely soaked in the process) so we had the best view of the firework display. At one point a chant of ‘BURN ‘IM!’ went up and every now and again someone behind us would yell something along the lines of, ‘O green lord, we beseech you to stop the rain!’

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2010 in Travel

 

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