Edinburgh 2014: part 2

Tamsyn Challenger installation at Summerhall

Saturday 2 August and we walked across the Meadows in the rain to Summerhall, to meet Mad. It wasn't quite open for business and the number of art exhibits seemed to be down on last year. Particularly liked the Meteorite room (Swiss artist Augustin Rebetez), full of mechanical things moving and screens with stop motion animations on. Genesis P Orridge had a show too, in the Hope room where Michael Nyman was last year. After a pint of Barney's beer, we put Mad on a bus to the borders and sheltered in the Green Mantle where I had my first Mac and Cheese, and American version of macaroni cheese only not as cheesy.

Mac and cheese at the Green Mount

Rob Newman's New Theory of Evolution at the Stand in the Square was the first show we'd paid to see and reasonably good it was too, on an oversized yurt. Afterwards Sam and Teege went on to the Purple Cow to meet friends; i carried on back to the flat.

Sunday 3 August I spent most of the day indoors watching the Commonwealth Games road race in Glasgow on tv. Then it was over to the Zoo venue near the Pleasance for The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote by Little Soldier Productions, three Spanish women and an Englishman who clowned out scenes from the book on a small stage with trapdoors, swopping roles as they went along. Spanish guitar was played throughout and there was only mild audience participation.

That evening we had more free tickets to see Rhys Nicholson (Clover, 20.05), a dapper Australian who made jokes that sounded somehow shocking coming from such a young mouth! The narrative was based around a guard llama. At least there was no audience participation, apart from a dig at someone who left in the middle of the show.

Pizza at La Piazza

On Monday 4 August we saw the biggest show so far: Reduced Shakespeare Company's Complete History of Comedy (abridged) 13.05 at Pleasance One (free tickets!). They were American, which came as a surprise, but were very amusing, except when they invoked an imaginary (?) clown Rambozo, it did tend to go on a bit.

We met Mad again at the City Art Gallery and had coffee there then at 16.25 it was Stand 3 for Robin Ince's Blooming Buzzing Confusion. He'd already said on Facebook that he'd lost his voice, but it didn't sound too bad, though he stopped a couple of times to complain he couldn't do his Brian Blessed impersonation. The show was about the amazing brain and I enjoyed it a lot. We caught the tram to the West End, had a pint in Aubar and a pizza next door at La Piazza.

Last show of the day was David Trent back at Pleasance Courtyard (21.45). He used a video slideshow to dissect the sexist Robin Thicke video and a Nick Griffin of BNP fame cookery show (yes, it really exists!). This was Sam's favourite show, so far.

Ellie Harrison at the Talbot Rice

Tuesday 5 August was my last full day and we visited the Talbot Rice for  Counterpoint, a group exhibition, including a confetti cannon that will only be fired on a Yes vote. The last show of my stay was Simon Munnery, back on stage at Stand 1 (15.55) with Sings Soren Lierkegaard (half price tickets). Munnery is a banker and never ever disappoints. Stewart Lee is another but we were taking a rest from him this year. We were going to have a Chinese fish meal, but it was shut so we had a very filling African tapas at Indaba.

Jim Lambie at the Fruitmarket

On the way home on Wednesday 6 August, I got the bus to the Mound and popped into the Fruitmarket for the Jim Lambie exhibition. I wasn't expecting much more than stripes on the floor, but it was worth a visit, especially for the maze of mirrored ladders downstairs. Edinburgh to Kings X was a breeze (at York I'd seen 46115 Scots Guardsman on the way up, but only the Harry Potter loco was outside on the way back). The Thameslink train from St Pancras to Brighton was another matter, it was packed, it being just after 5pm, and it went a very circuitous route, via Herne Hill, Tulse Hill, Gypsy Hill and Crystal Palace! Should have got the bus to Victoria…

PS. It has always been a tradition that the first pint in Edinburgh is a glass of 80/-, but this year it was nowhere to be seen. Deuchars IPA is more or less everywhere, but no Cally 80… On my last say however I finally got a pint of heavy at the bar in Stand 1. So now you know.

Edinburgh 2014: part 1

This year's Edinburgh was a bit of an experiment: go up early and bag some free tickets. Yes, groan! Free means crap usually, doesn't it? Anyway, I was willing to take a chance - besides I couldn't find any really cheap rail fares, so it was £33 up and £15.85 back from Kings X with another £20 on the fare from Brighton to St Pancras and back (bad move, more later).

Edinburgh tram on Princes Street

I arrived on Tuesday 29th July, met Sam and had a quiet night in. Next day it was to the Mound by bus and a trip on the new tram to the stop before the Airport. The tram journey was included in my £3.50 day ticket (hooray!), but if you go all the way to the airport, which you could see from Ingliston Park & Ride, it'd cost a fiver. The trams are badly laid out for the casual viewer as the driver is so high up you can't see out the front.

  On an Edinburgh tram

 Went back all the way to York Place then popped in to the National Portrait Gallery to check out the Ruskin (with Sam's Friend card) and John Byrne (Tilda Swinton) exhibitions, use their loo and have a coffee! Walked through St Andrews Square where they were erecting a Spiegeltent for the Stand, and after a pint of Munro Mild at the Abbotsford on Rose Street met Sam and Teege to see Steen Raskopoulos at the Wee Coo (20.10), a shouty Australian with a little too much audience participation in his act for my liking. Nobody was safe!

Most pierced woman in the world

Thursday 31 July, I visited the Writers' Museum off the Royal Mile, a really interesting building, but dull exhibits, apart from the printing press at the top of the stairs (no photography allowed!). Walked down the Royal Mile and spotted Elaine Davidson, the most pierced woman in the world. Ended up at the Pleasance and got some free tickets for The only way is Downton (18.20, Pleasance Above, Luke Kempner), which I enjoyed but Sam hadn't ever seen it so was mystified. The impressions were excellent except for Richard Osman in a Pointless segment. Then it was Luke McQueen at 20.00 in Bunker Two, who did the whole act in his underpants, baked beans dribbling down his chest. This involved far too much audience being picked on, tho one punter refused to play ball!

David Shrigley at the Mound

Friday 1 August, I got the bus to the Mound and visited the Scottish National Gallery (front bit) which was given over to Generation: 25 years of Contemporary Art in Scotland. The David Shrigley room was the best tho I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the show. It continued at the Modern Art Museum, so i got the 2pm Gallery Bus (now a cramped minibus) out of town. Tip: get there early to get a seat, and it no longer stops at the Portrait Gallery.

 Gallery bus

I gave the American Impressionism show at the former Dean, now Two, a miss, checked out more Generation and had a coffee in the grounds behind the gallery. Back at the Mound, I popped in to the back bit to see the permanent collection and The Art of Golf downstairs, which had some nice railway posters in it.

Installation at the Modern Art Museum

That evening we had sushi with Belle and Adam at Kanpai, where I was presented with a customised bottle of 'Clear yer Pipes' green chilli sauce from Big Red's Chilli Company, and cocktails at Monboddo, where the cast of River City were celebrating the opening of a play 3000 Trees directed by Libby McArthur. Jimmy Chisholm from Braveheart was also there.

More to follow...