Edinburgh Festival 2008

Originally uploaded by fred pipes
Well, I didn't need my sun glasses, but it didn't rain all the time! I travelled up on Wednesday 13 August, crossing from the new St Pancras to King's X via platform 9 3/4. GNER is now National Express. The Cally bar at Haymarket had been demolished for the new tram works, so met Sam in Thomsons Bar for the first pint of 80/- (now called 80, presumably to appeal to young folk!). Next day I was checking Facebook when I received a communication from Marek Kohn, who was speaking at the Book Festival at 2pm. I dragged myself away from the olympics on TV and got my first of many £2.50 day savers (my bus pass isn't valid north of the border). In his audience I spotted Dick Witts, so we had a natter and collared Tony Benn in the signing tent to demonstrate his combination bag and seat (as seen on Richard and Judy). Before had popped into National Trust place and had a letterpress book plate printed! Then walked along to Chester Street to see Harry Potter illustrator Cliff Wright and friends (Mark Harrison and Tim Gill plus girls in flowing dresses) at their art exhibition. On Tim's recommendation, bought some cut-price folk albums at Fopp in Rose Street.

Friday hoped to catch the Art Bus - but it'd been discontinued! So did the smaller galleries, including Richard Wilson's deconstructed hot dog van at the Grey Gallery, then to the Stand to see Simon Munnery's AGM, which continued over the road in the pub, as usual. On Saturday we started at the art school to see the op art E-cyclorama, then to Talbot Rice for Andrew Grassie's hyper-real self-referential egg tempera paintings. They were wee! We were offered magnifying glasses to examine them! On Royal Mile were amused by Gamarjobat and saw Billy Cowie's dance installation at Grassmarket, which was also surprisingly wee! Tonight's show was in a swimming pool - Liz Bentley-on-Sea - not very good, despite the venue and uke action.

Sunday saw the traditional outing - to Musselburgh by bus, to see Mad, art at Eskmills and have tea at Luca's. Later met Peter and Lisa in Bennet's Bar for a couple of pints. On Monday saw Cholmondeleys feat. Nigel Burch at the Assembly then to Cafe Royal for a lovely dark pint, and thence to the Teviot for How to play the uke in less than an hour, a hot squashed show with nice but quiet ukes, Lisa standing in for Foz? Then a quick hike to the Festival Theatre for the Waverley Care comedy gala and loads and loads of very funny people. We were right up in the gods!

Tuesday was wet and Sam was back at work so I did the big museums on the 13 bus. I was round the Tracey Emin show in a flash (tho I bought a pencil!) but the Foto exhibition at the Dean was much better than I'd expected, with much collage and graphic design as well as photos from their golden age. Back to the Pleasance to be a late entrant to Isy Suttie (Dobby in Peep Show)! Back to book festival for Billy Cowie's talk - bought his book, which I'm looking forward to now I've finished A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian, and we had a pint in the Spiegeltent as the rain hammered the roof.

Wednesday got a bus to the top of the Royal Mile and watched a conjurer briefly, before walking down to the Fruitmarket to do the dark rooms properly (I'd wimped out on Friday!) - the installations by Canadians Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller were very impressive - the record player one downstairs and the killing machine upstairs particularly, the use of sound, light and robotics very theatrical. Waiting for Jo Neary's show to start at the Assembly I went to the Standing Order for a sub-two quid pint, to be joined at my table by Nigel Burch. I recognised him without the Foz makeup and we had a chat about banjuleles. Joanne Neary was excellent, can't think why I hadn't seen her in Brighton. Then it was off to Leith for a farewell meal at The Ship on the Shore with Sam and Charley. I had hake (and a taste of razor clam and scallop - but why do chefs always spoil these dishes for veggies by adding superfluous chorizo and black pudding?). Thursday was back to Haymarket for the train home.

1 comment:

Nick said...

Another packed edinburgh schedule, Fred. Makes me regret missing this year's Ed fest. No time for a second visit to the Arthur smith art gallery?


Arthur Smith, Fringe comedian, revolutionary philosopher and grumpy old man is now the head of a new movement: Arturart – A Counter Insurgency Movement Against the Repression of Laughter in Art Galleries. Rather than try to get his works accepted by the establishment, Arthur Smith has cut out the middle man and set up his own gallery in Queen Street...

The gallery is very much like Arthur Smith himself: anarchic, funny and slightly shambolic with a strong sense of humanity at its core. "The thing about art is that no one really knows what they are talking about," he says. "I suppose in a way I'm saying everyone can do art."

There's a room full of paintings by Simon Munnery, a live bed show featuring two actors in their underwear living in a wonky Wendy house and a cupboard full of strangely positioned Winnie the Pooh dolls – the subversion of Disney.