We bid goodbye to York, which I thoroughly recommend as a holiday destination and set out for Auld Reekie. It’s still a substantial distance from Yorkshire, even if it feels like it shouldn’t be and even though we set off at 10am when we were kicked out of our Air BnB, we didn’t arrive until 3.30pm (so could gain immediate access to our Edinburgh accommodation).
The kids were nose down in iPads, which is mostly an amazing thing for a car journey, and so showed no excitement when we crossed into Scotland and only gave the Angel of the North a cursory glance. I couldn’t even interest them in the deep blue sea around Berwick, which is always the point where my stomach lurches excitedly about what is to come.
Catie has noted how it’s weird that there is so much that is censored for the sake of kids on TV and radio and you’re not allowed to swear during the daytime, even in something pretend, but the news is allowed to broadcast real life horrors every hour (or every minute on TV) and no one seems to think it’s a problem. On every drive recently there has been a news story that we haven’t wanted our kids to hear about and today was no exception, so I had to be ready to turn the volume down for the awful news that might upset them. I know they listen to everything that’s going on, because there was a character called Ernest in something we were listening to on Radio 4 Extra and Ernie loved it. As he should. Radio 4 Extra is the only place you get Ernies these days. No named items in the gift shops, no Cadbury bars dedicated to an Ernie. We did see the poster for The Importance of Being Earnest when we got to town, so that’s almost something. Not that he can read. Except for the word Ernie. You’d think the people putting that play on could have changed the name for his sake.
We’d turned over to Radio 4 Extra to avoid news bulletins and ended up listening to an episode of the Goon Show. It was the Pevensey Bay Disaster episode from 1955
and I have to say that at nearly 70 years distance, shorn of the context of the previous five and a half series, it made very little sense to the modern ear - even to mine and I had quite enjoyed these shows as a child. Interesting to note that there’s an acronym joke at the start THEGS, but the only bit that I thought was worth a chuckle “You keep me covered with this photograph of a gun,” got nothing from the audience who had been uproarious about some very odd lines. Luckily they are pretty much all dead now, so I won’t hold it against them. Maybe comedy is not supposed to last seven decades and it’s not really important how this show sounds now, because it is how it was received at the time and the influence it had that is important. Spike Milligan is the comedy genius of the 20th Century, at least on this side of the Atlantic and my respect for him has no bounds. But I did not understand this show any more. And at least it made sense at the time. A lot of what I am doing is hard to understand for the present day audience. Maybe the people of seventy years time will love it.
The expensive accommodation was very nice and we’d actually been upgraded to a slightly superior flat and they’d put 9 Soleros in the freezer for us, so for the second time this week my mild celebrity had some confectionary usefulness. And it’s immediately (almost) worth being somewhere so nice. I have done Edinburgh in all kinds of conditions - the first time, sleeping on a floor alongside dozens of other people in a building with one toilet and no bath. I can’t be doing with slumming it any more. And nice accommodation is an oasis from what’s going on outside.
We took the kids for pizzas and saw some posters and the general sense of excitement. I’ve never arrived at the Fringe so close to the first performance. Hard to believe I was under 20 hours from my first show. There was an odd poster for a show called Tomato where a tomato seemed to lodged in a body part of some kind. Maybe it was a hand, I suggest. “Maybe it’s a vagina” said Phoebe. “Maybe,” I replied, “Welcome to the Edinburgh Fringe!"
Got some very exciting names in already for the autumn run of RHLSTP at the Leicester Square Theatre. Badgers and Plussers should have had an email (or badgers can check the news in your secret area). The rest of you non-badge scum will find out who we’ve got in a couple of days. We really need to sell tickets this autumn to ensure we can continue doing shows at the Leicester Square Theatre, so do come to one of these many many shows if you can!