Monday, August 29, 2011

Edinburgh Evening News Column

I wrote this for the Edinburgh Evening News - published 29th Aug 2011

They wanted my take on living in Edinburgh:


Jo Caulfield: Express service through festival


I've just got back home to Edinburgh from a week of shows in London and I have to say, "Wow! What a train journey".

The scenery from Newcastle to Edinburgh is breathtaking. All along the coast, the craggy cliffs, the crashing waves, simply breathtaking. I actually came out of the toilet and stood in the carriageway for a better view. I thought, "I don't care if the ticket inspector catches me, this is definitely worth paying for".


Arriving at Waverley Station I couldn't believe it when I overheard some locals complaining about the crowds of tourists and all the visiting performers. Stop it! Don't be like that, Edinburgh! Be thankful for what you've got. Glasgow would love to have your Castle, Aberdeen would love to have your festival, and Dundee would love to have any old clothes or shoes you don't need.


See what I did there? I used Dundee as a punchline. I did that because I've been told by several Scottish comedians that Dundee is the perfect victim for jokes about Scotland. Obviously those comedians have never been to Peterhead.


See what I did there? I used Peterhead as a punchline.


Mind you, the crowds during August can get a bit tiresome. Last night I got stuck behind several hundred pensioners coming out of the Tattoo, heading for their tour coaches - it was like watching one very long episode of Walking With Dinosaurs.


So we're into the final days of the festival. Personally I'm looking forward to getting my front room back. I've had a rotation of family members, friends and comedians sleeping on my couch. My front room has been like Piccadilly Circus. Which is like Hunter Square - but with lower cholesterol.


But there are some things I don't like about the festival.


I don't like the "Edinburgh Festival Look-Around" - this is when you're speaking to somebody and you know they're not listening because they won't look you straight in the eye as they're far too busy looking over your shoulder to try and find someone more interesting to talk to. Oh well, I suppose it was my fault for marrying him.


And I think it's a shame the way the festival has become so commercially driven. It's all about marketing. And promotion. And raising your profile. That's why there are posters and leaflets everywhere. But the leaflets do work. At the end of this month the faces of all the comedians will be extremely well known . . . to every road sweeper in the city.


And don't get me started on the manipulation of the press. Too many performers have too many quotes stuck on their posters taken completely out of context. For example, if I were to say "Jo Caulfield is one of Britain's best comedians and every show she does is a five-star show" that would just be my opinion. But now my opinion has been published in the Evening News "my" opinion becomes an Evening News "fact". You see? That's how the press is continually manipulated.


And I don't like that, although I WILL be using that very same Evening News quote on my posters next year.


I haven't been to the Book Festival yet, but it is on my list of things to do. I've heard it described as "a lot of people drinking alcohol while surrounded by books”, which makes it sound less like an internationally acclaimed literary event and more like a visit to the Macdonald Road library.


Of course, some of the UK's finest writers live here in Edinburgh: JK Rowling, Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith, me. I don't like to boast but have JK, Ian or Alexander been asked to write a column? No, no and no. I think that speaks volumes about who the Evening News considers to be "the best writer" in this town.


By the way, both John Hannah and Ken Stott have approached me with substantial offers to buy the rights to this article. ITV is also quite interested although it wants to relocated the entire story to a London newspaper office, gloss over all of my unique character foibles and put Russell Brand in the lead role.


You're pulling my legend

This Sunday saw the first Hearts v Hibs Premier League game of the season. According to the Hearts website, hospitality in the Gorgie Suite was available at £165 plus vat and it added: "You'll be able to meet past and present players including the Legend that is Wayne Foster!"


I looked up the word "legend" on Wikipedia.


It said: "A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude."


Sounds interesting, doesn't it?


I looked up Wayne Foster on Wikipedia. He wasn't listed.


To be honest, I don't know much about Scottish football, but I do know that in today's precarious financial situation £165 plus vat seems like an awful waste of money - that could have been put towards a Christian Louboutin sequined evening bag.


PS. I was just joking about Wayne Foster. He IS listed on Wikipedia. He's described as a large, bipedal humanoid, also known as a 'Sasquatch'. Oh no, sorry, I looked up Colin Calderwood by mistake.

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