Friday, August 05, 2016

Spot The Difference

Filled in a questionnaire for some Fringe magazine. I went for FUNNY and INFORMATIVE answers. My answers got a bit butchered and edited shorter when it went to print, probably due to space restrictions...? Anyway, I've put up both versions here. Which one do you prefer?

MY VERSION  

Do you remember your first impressions of Edinburgh when you came the very first time?

I’ll never forget coming out of Waverley Station in 2001 and seeing a man in full Highland dress; the kilt, the sporran, the little dagger in his socks … I was SO excited to see my first real American Tourist.

I also remember the 1st flat I stayed in. A classic Edinburgh tenement. Being a Londoner I couldn't believe the high ceilings and huge windows. But all the flats had the same odd room arrangements; a huge kitchen (a kitchen you could slaughter a cow in) and a tiny, tiny bathroom. I put it down to some sort of Calvinistic modesty. A decent Scotsman or woman shouldn't be spending time in a bathroom: get in, wash your sinful bits and then get out again quick!

Walking over North Bridge late at night and looking up to the Castle, I thought I'd never seem anything so beautiful; it was like being drunk in Fairyland.

Is there anywhere that has disappeared that you miss?

Bodos Bar, opposite The Stand Comedy Club, a perfect post-show hang out. Shona, the bar manager, played great music, and even though it was probably the biggest dive bar in the whole of beautiful Edinburgh, everyone, including the visiting comics, loved it with a passion, and I still miss it terribly.

What is your Guilty Edinburgh Pleasure?

Comic's guilty pleasure in Edinburgh are usually doing something healthy. The Victorian Swimming baths at Warrender Park Road or the Commonwealth Pool are just two of the many swimming baths I feel guilty for never having been in.

Paying extortionate prices for cocktails with a great view is more my style. I recommend The Tower on Chambers Street. Or Harvey Nichols bar, on the top floor. The ladies toilets are beside the exit lift, perfect for doing a runner before the waitress brings the check.

Ever done the staying up all night and having a pint at Penny Black's at 6am thing?

I went for dinner at my friend, comic JoJo Sutherland's house, and was still there drinking when her husband went to work at 8am the next morning.
I also met JoJo for a quick drink after my show, which turned into seeing the dawn breaking from the Loft Bar at The Gilded Balloon.
I've just realised, JoJo Sutherland is my guilty pleasure.

What do you really look forward to doing when you come up?

That view, looking down from the city to the sea and across the Forth to mountains. And it's exactly how I like my countryside, seen from the comfort of John Lewis.

For all the newbies this year ... what would you warn them about?

Avoid the Royal Mile. It’s full of young drama students handing out their leaflets. They’re all so positive and excited and full of hope. They obviously haven’t realised yet that all that awaits them in death is cold, dark emptiness forever. They have no idea we are all alone in the Universe and God doesn’t exist. Bless ‘em.

Don't read read reviews of you or your friends. They will get into your head. Just concentrate on being really 'present' when you do your show.

Things will go wrong. Posters will get lost, leaflets will have the wrong time or venue on them, your room will have sound bleed, your techie will fall asleep, shows will over run so your audience have to leave half way though to get to their next show, your flat mate will get nominated. But just remember, enjoy it. You are taking part in one of the most wonderful Arts Festival in the World. You are a comic doing comedy, and to me, that's the dream.

The size of the poster does not reflect the size of audience you can expect. It just reflects how much more more money you have spent.

If you are a newbie audience member - word of mouth, talk to people in the bars and queues, ask what they have enjoyed. See a big queue and join it, especially if it's free fringe. Go and see at least one type of performance you've never seen before. Burlesque, magic, mime, dance, sketches, opera, drama anything….

I love eavesdropping on audiences as they leave the venues …. “£12 to sit in a damp, stuffy room with no air-conditioning? And £5.10 a pint? What a f**king ripoff!”

If you ever need a break from all the wonderful comedy and theatre and dance, I like to head up to Hunter Square and indulge in a bit of people watching. It’s fantastic. Tourists, students, buskers, fire-eaters, jugglers, pickpockets, and plain-clothed policemen, all packed into one little area. It’s like a live version of Crimewatch UK.

Or go watch the crowds of pensioners leaving the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and all trying to board their coaches at the same time. It’s like an extra-long episode of Walking With Dinosaurs.

What would be in your Edinburgh Survival Kit?

Thick skin, a liver transplant and Vitamin C tablets.

Remember, it's summer but not as we know it. Last August I saw two young women walking across The Meadows. One was wearing boots, leggings and a raincoat; the other was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and sandals. I just thought, “At some point in the day, you will both be wearing the right clothing.”

Pack a raincoat and suntan lotion.

And where is in your Edinburgh Little Black Book?

Leith. All of it. 
Explore Leith Walk, Bernard Street, Constitution Street and The Shore. 
Great bars for food, atmosphere or history: The Lioness of Leith, Nobles, The Port 'o' Leith, The Central, and The Carriers Quarters.

And you must visit The Leith Dockers Club on Academy Street!!
In June I went to see a play in The Dockers Club.
The play was exceptionally good but my highlight was the pre-show announcement...
"In event of a fire, please quickly finish your drinks, take your empty glasses back to the bar, use the side exit and assemble across the road, outside the boxing club."
You don't get that at the poncy Traverse Theatre!! Dockers Club, I salute you.

I also recommend The Kenilworth on Rose Street. The last time I was there it was only after ordering my food I realised I was sat directly opposite the door to the gents toilets. Every couple of minutes another man would enter or exit giving me a clear view into the gents. Not a pretty sight when you're trying to eat. It put me straight off my plate of chipolatas.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

OK that's what I wrote. If you can be bothered reading any further, this is what was published. Why not play Spot The Difference...?
PUBLISHED VERSION
I’ll never forget coming out of Waverley Station in 2001 on my first visit to Edinburgh and seeing a man in full Highland dress – the kilt, the sporran, the little dagger in his sock… I was so excited to see my first real American tourist.
I also remember the first flat I stayed in – a classic Edinburgh tenement. Being a Londoner, I couldn’t believe the high ceilings and huge windows. But that flat, and all the others I later stayed in, all had the same odd combination of huge kitchen and tiny bathroom. I put it down to some sort of Calvinistic modesty: a decent Scot shouldn’t be spending time in a bathroom – get in, wash your sinful bits and then get out again quick!
Most of all, I remember crossing the North Bridge late at night and looking up at the castle. I thought I’d never seen anything so beautiful – it was like being drunk in Fairyland.
My Edinburgh guilty pleasure is paying extortionate prices for cocktails with a great view. I recommend The Tower on Chambers Street or the bar on the top floor of Harvey Nichols.
Edinburgh lends itself to late nights. I think my latest was when I went for dinner at the house of my friend, the comic JoJo Sutherland, and I was still there drinking when her husband went to work at eight the next morning. I also went to meet JoJo once for a quick drink after my show, which turned into seeing the dawn breaking in the Loft Bar at the Gilded Balloon. I’ve just realised – JoJo Sutherland is my guilty pleasure.
A few words of advice for anyone who’s performing at the Fringe for the first time. Avoid the Royal Mile – it’s full of drama students handing out their flyers. They’re all so positive and excited and full of hope, bless ’em. Don’t read reviews of you or your friends. Accept that things will go wrong – posters will get lost, leaflets will have the wrong time or venue on them, your room will have sound-bleed, your techie will fall asleep, shows will over-run so your audience have to leave halfway through to get to their next show, your flatmate will get nominated for an award. Just enjoy it. You’re a comic doing comedy in one of the most wonderful arts festivals in the world. That, to me, is the dream.
If you’re a newbie audience member, my advice is to use word of mouth – talk to people in bars and queues and ask what they have enjoyed. If you see a big queue, join it, especially if it’s Free Fringe. Go and see at least one type of performance you’ve never seen before – burlesque, magic, mime, dance, sketches, opera, drama, anything….
To survive Edinburgh, remember – it’s summer but not as we know it. Last August I saw two young women walking across the Meadows. One was wearing boots, leggings and a raincoat; the other  had on shorts, a T-shirt and sandals. I thought, “At some point today, you’ll both be wearing the right clothes.” So pack a raincoat and suntan lotion.
I always tell people to explore Leith. Wander down Leith Walk, Bernard Street, Constitution Street and The Shore. There are great bars for food, atmosphere and history – Lioness of Leith, Nobles, the Port o’ Leith and the Carriers Quarters. And you must visit the Leith Dockers Club on Academy Street. I saw a great play there, but my highlight was the pre-show announcement: “In the event of a fire, please quickly finish your drinks, take your empty glasses back to the bar, use the side exit and assemble across the road.” You don’t get that at the poncy Traverse Theatre! Dockers Club, I salute you.
                                                        * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  
Bit different, isn't it? Bit twee. Interesting how:
"Avoid the Royal Mile. It’s full of young drama students handing out their leaflets. They’re all so positive and excited and full of hope. They obviously haven’t realised yet that all that awaits them in death is cold, dark emptiness forever. They have no idea we are all alone in the Universe and God doesn’t exist. Bless ‘em."
...was changed into: 
"Avoid the Royal Mile – it’s full of drama students handing out their flyers. They’re all so positive and excited and full of hope, bless ’em."
Where's the death? Where's the cold, dark emptiness? Where's the non-existence of God? Personally, I thought that was the best bit.

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