While living and working in Edinburgh in 2008 I set out to write one million words in 366 days... but only managed 800,737.

Monday, August 11, 2008


It rained for forty hours straight. Trains stopped running because tunnels were flooded (I would have thought tunnels were inherently sheltered places, but no). My shoes, wet since Wednesday morning, didn’t dry until midday Friday.

It wasn't the sort of week where you spontaneous see a show... even with so much on.

MacBeth Blow Out

Saturday we were supposed to go to two shows, but got carried away making a feast for three…

...that we had to run to catch the bus to make it to the George IV Bridge to see Burn Out MacBeth at 6:15pm. We got off the bus at 6:13pm. According to our cursory look at the map before hand, The Vault was just on a street running off George IV Bridge. It only sunk in when we were standing on the bridge that it was more likely the street ran beneath the bridge rather than through it. We quickly spotted the big Fringe Venue sign in a courtyard down below, but then had to figure out how to get there from the bridge. Did I mention the tour buses had just unloaded all of their tattoo-goers, who were plodding up the bridge to the royal mile? We chose to run down Chambers Street, then down an alley to get to the Cowgate, then another alley to find our courtyard. By the time we had been escorted to the Vault Annex it was 6:20pm and we were informed by the man on the door that the curtain had just gone up (I’ve yet to see a show at this festival with a curtain…) and did we want to exchange our tickets for anything else (it was the last performance of Burn Out MacBeth). All the shows on offer clashed with the aforementioned feast for three / making an appearance at birthday drinks / the other show we had tickets for, so we just walked back home.

At least the rain had stopped.

It turned out our feast for three was now a feast for two (damn poor people needing to work).

But I did see a show our second show of the evening.


Jaik Campbell – The Audacity of Hopelessness
10:50pm Saturday 9 August

This was another show I didn’t choose. I’m not trying to blame anyone, just explaining that I didn’t know Jaik Campbell stammered until I saw on a poster in the bathroom at Espionage that his show was sponsored by the British Stammering Association. Okay, I thought, so now I know this guy’s angle. I didn’t think it was that big a deal -- didn’t even mention it to Marisa before the show started -- and ultimately it wasn’t the stammering that stood between me and enjoyment. It was the fact he wasn’t funny.

Some comedians, the strength of their delivery, their on stage persona, covers the weakness of their material. With Jaik Campbell it was almost the weakness of his delivery that smoothed over the shoddy jokes. bAlmost.

I spent most of the time being bugged by his use of stuttering and stammering synonymously. Anyone who has read Black Swan Green will know they’re different beasties.

I learnt after the show that Jaik Campbell has performed more than 800 stand-up shows. It’s great that stand-up has helped with his confidence and lessened the severity of his speech impediment, but his show on Saturday never made the leap from self-improvement to entertainment.

Fringe Sunday
11am-5pm Sunday 10 August, The Meadows

More free-ness yesterday. The weather was like a 'Summer in Edinburgh' highlight package: picnic in the sun, dark clouds roll in, torrential rain, sun again, people walking in the mud.

We were lucky to have wedged our way inside the Comedy tent just before the torrential rain portion of the day. Of the five or six comedians we saw, none were so memorable that I looked them up in the Fringe Programme when I got home.

In addition to Comedy, there was a Theatre tent, one for Cabaret, and one for New Music. Then there were several outdoor stages, and plenty of buskers with nothing to construct their theatre with but the sodden grass and a ring of people. (I wonder what happened to them when the heavens opened?)

It was a pretty cool way to spend an afternoon. Definitely a lot to see. Pity the weather added an element of stress to what should have been the ultimate feel good Fringe experience.

No comments: