Pics and Pixels

Finally got the leaflets done.  It’s always an extraordinary amount of hassle, and I’m sure I would never ever produce  a show again if I had anything approximating to a good memory.  But every time I forget!

I had this book when I was about four, called ‘Oh Essie!’ about a girl in Africa, who always forgot things.  She forgot everything so everybody would say ‘Oh Essie!’ At school she forgot to bring her stuff and everyone said ‘Oh Essie!’ But one day she was selling oranges for her mum in the market, and she finished selling them, put the baby on her back in its sling, and went home.  ‘Oh Essie!’ said her mum.  ‘That is not our baby!  We have our baby here.  You have taken someone else’s baby.’  So poor Essie had to trawl about with the stolen baby looking for its mum.  Eventually, she put the baby down and he toddled off.  Essie followed him to his home. His mum was so pleased that she brought a beautiful new cloth to Essie’s school for her and told everyone at school how wonderful Essie was.

This book gave me rather a positive message about being forgetful.  However, it might be better not to forget next time, but to remember that putting on a show is stressful so we remember not to do one next time.  Is it good stress?  Probably.  Gives us something to do.  But we are already spending many hours cleaning out the parrots, being on committees, chopping down the burgeoning brambles in the outdoor cage, taking cats to the vet, slug-leaping through rain-sodden wheat fields with the dogs.  Not to mention Hampers and Champers dahling, a screen-writing weekend at Regent’s College, friends coming to stay on their way to Glastonbury, the Hockerill Garden Party which went with a bang and teaching, teaching, teaching.  Also am writing another book about a girl called Sally-Anne who becomes a surrogate to…ooh, I’d not better give away my plot.  I’ll try and get some chapters out here for you soon.  I think it’s my best yet but you never know.  Might be crap.  It’s another black comedy, surprise surprise.  There is a very funny murder in it.  At least I’ve found my genre.  Makes me laugh a lot.  Fred helps me with the funny bits in the middle of the night.  That sounds rude but so isn’t.

So, apart from all that shizz, what have I been up to?  Leaflets.  First things first for leaflets, you need photos!  I asked Tabby if she could send through some photos of her and Kieran being Mr and Mrs Blood.  ‘Mum,’ she said.  ‘Mr and Mrs Blood are not the main characters.  Jem, Ned and Billy are the main characters.’

‘Ooh, yes, you’re right,’ I said.  Mr and Mrs Blood are seductive but they are of course the antagonists, not the heroes.

So, photos.  Fred does have a good camera but he always loses it around the house.  Our house is terrible for that.  Once he lost a whole cupboard full of sound equipment, adaptors, microphones and guitar leads.  He lost it for nearly nine months.  When he found it he said ‘Aha!  There it is.’  I thought that was insanely mild.  I would have done a little dance and sung Edelweiss at the top of my lungs for the rest of the day.

When Fred does occasionally come across his camera, he remembers that it has a temperamental auto-focus and thus is not worth finding.  Luckily, our friend Alexandra Cameron has always said ‘Please ask if you ever need photos’ as she has been known to drape scantily-clad models around our house for the afternoon.  So I did ask.  She said ‘yes!’ so I texted the ‘boys.’  I say ‘boys’ as one of them is a girl!  They came round, dressed up in grungy gear and smeared themselves with ash from the fireplace.  They had a look at this old pic from 2007:

Old image

Old image

New Jem, Ned and Billy put themselves in front of a black sheet and got into their roles.

The next day, Alexandra sent me this:


Yes, Jem is wearing the same jacket seven years later and is holding the same lantern.  Being terrible hoarders, we don’t often throw anything away, and particularly hate throwing dressing-up stuff away.

We were delighted with the pic and and sent it off to ‘Fringeprint‘ who were recommended by our venue. (When it’s not the Fringe they are known as Zed Print.)  They were extremely kind to me, techno/pixel-phobe as I am.  However kind they are though, there are certain things they need to create the leaflet, that I just don’t understand, pixels being one of them.

Fortunately however, I teach French to a journalist called Brian, who kindly offered to sort out the jolly old pixels and millimetres etc of my image before sending it off.  The creation of the leaflet then involved long, convoluted emails on our part and patient, fast replies from Fringe Print. Then several middle-of-the-night emails pinged back and forth from Chloe in Boston.  We  moved through several drafts, changing most of the text, the atmosphere, the colours.  Originally the image had a red glow in addition to the green, which made it too colourful:  we wanted more to suggest the mouldiness and gloom of  the Victorian sewers.

What we ended up with was this:


This image is going to be on small post-card-size A6 card.  These are not as flimsy as the A5 paper leaflets, so won’t disintegrate so quickly in the rain.  (See we are not Fringe virgins.  We know about the rain.)  They are also double-sided.  If you are interested to see both sides, click on this:  flyermaster.

We went for the  Colour Printing Fringepack 1  (recommended for a show lasting one week) which means, for just £95 (special deal for SPACE people) you get 5,000 A6 full colour double-sided flyers printed on 250gsm gloss card and 50 A3 posters printed on 135gsm glossy poster paper.  I copied and pasted that last bit.  Could you tell?  God, I know… even that amount of info makes my eyes glaze over.


After I’d finally just about killed myself registering the show, Chloe phoned up in a bit of a tizz.  ‘I can’t believe you wrote the descriptions of the show without my input!’ she exclaimed.  ‘We’re meant to be a team!’

‘I was in a hurry…and at four pm our time, you’re not even awake,’ I countered.  She gets up at midday in Boston by which hour we’ve practically gone to bed.

‘Hunh!  You could have asked me a few days before,’ she answered.

This is puzzling.  Like, has she been away so long she’s forgotten who her family is?  Are any of us likely to get something together a few days before a deadline? 

Then she said, ‘What title did you put?’

‘Er….The Jammy Dodgers Go Underground, of course, since that is the title,’ I said.

‘It’s too long,’ she said.  ‘It should just be The Jammy Dodgers.’

‘But…it’s the title of the book!  You can’t change it.  What would Brenda say?’

‘But they might not even go underground,’ she said.

‘What?’ I shrieked, aghast.  ‘Not….Go….Underground?’

‘Maybe not,’ she said.  ‘Why should they?’

She’s very weird, you know.  It’s like trying to do business with a slippery eel.  ‘Er….because it’s in the title?’ I hazarded.

‘Not if the title becomes ‘The Jammy Dodgers.’

‘Chloe,’ I said patiently, ‘if Jem, Ned and Billy don’t Go Underground, how will they escape from the dead-house with all the nasty coffins and dead bodies in it?’

Bash and I have concluded that Chloe’s gone a bit loopy-loo.  We know the plot of The Jammy Dodgers Go Underground definitely involves going underground.  However, interpretation, that’s the thing with musical adaptations.  Artistic licence…though we had rather too much of that the first time round in 2007. But, you know, everyone does it.  Look at the Disney version of 101 Dalmations:  they cut out sweet Perdita, the lost dog who helped feed the puppies!  And what did Disney do to Pocahontas?  And look at Spring Awakening:  all those kids pulling mics out of their jacket pockets and launching into rampant anachronistic rock.  Do you think Wedekind who wrote the original German play is turning in his grave? (Probably not, as he was so chillingly before his time he’s likely well chuffed.)

‘Actually, I’d better reread the book…’ Chloe conceded, ‘…as I can’t remember what bits we made up last time and what bits were really in it.’

Hmm, yes, she could read it, if our manky thumbed copy weren’t currently in Glasgow being read (out loud probably and in a sinister voice), by Mr Blood.  Ooh, if I didn’t just coin a new double-barrelled epithet!  ‘Manky-thumbed.’  This could well spawn a whole wave of useful others…hmm yes:  ‘skanky-thumbed’ could refer to something what fell off the back of a lorry,  ‘hanky-thumbed’ would refer to noses, ‘swanky-thumbed’ would be posh cars, and ‘yanky-thumbed’ would describe an obstinate nostril hair.  So what would ‘wanky-thumbed’ refer to?  Answers on a post-card please….


For quite a few weeks, I had been putting scrawled reminders in my diary ‘REGISTER SHOW!’  You see, if you do it before five pm on Wed 19th March, you get a hundred quid discount.  However, things had been hotting up around here, to say the least, with Bash in Grease the musical, the cast party (here!), the fabulous Bollywood Night at school, Bash in Little Shop of Horrors, new French pupils coming out my ears, filling in for a friend teaching au-pairs Advanced English, and filling in for another friend teaching their RDA group (as I have passed my exam and am now a proud RDA-GI).

So, inevitably and suddenly, out of the blue as it were, Wednesday 19th March was upon us.  ‘Shizzle on my dizzle, I’ve got to register the show!’ I repeated to myself while making the porridge, taking the dogs to the woods, making people recite imperfect verb endings (for god’s sake it’s -AIENT fyi!).  My duet partner Tracy turned up, had a cup of tea and left again without playing anything.  ‘You have to register the show!’ she said.  ‘You’ve only got two hours you numpty.’

I reluctantly hauled the forms up on EdFringeWare and started filling them in.  How long could it possibly take?  Names, addresses, contacts, name of show, number of people in show, category of show….hmm, oh yes, children’s, of course, easy.  Secondary categorisation required: choose between drama, cabaret, circus, hmm… should this be comedy or musical theatre?  I was in such a faff by then that I can’t remember what I put.  Musical theatre I think.  Oh, no, they wanted a thirty-five word description of show for programme.  And a hundred-word one for the website!   Shizz, shizz.  I scribbled something down, Lordy knows what, but I know the Jammy Dodgers pretty well, and think I got it in some sort of nutshell, albeit a gnarly, mouldy walnut one.  Then I filled in all the other screens, saving as I went along, as I am an idiot but not a total idiot.  I was due to teach at half four, so I had to rush rush hurry hurry.  Details of venue… typed them in.  Dates of show?  Monday 11th to Saturday 16th August.  Time of show?  Didn’t know.  I phoned Charles for advice.  He said since our slot at the theatre is 1.30 to 2.30,  and ‘get-in’ should take ten mins, our start time should be 1.40, meaning we’ll have 45 minutes to do the show and five minutes to ‘get out’ as in, take all our stuff with us.  It’s lucky Chloe is into minimalist and Brechtian as this means props are out.  This is a good thing…maybe not for your props person but ours happens to be going off walking to Santiago di Compostela or somewhere so she won’t mind.

I finally pressed REGISTER.  Red words glared out at the top of the screen:  ‘One mandatory field to be filled in.’  It did not tell me where.  I scanned all screens again.  All fields were present and correct.  I pressed REGISTER again.  The red words were back.  ‘Mandatory field missing in ‘General Information.’  I went to General Information.  It was all filled in, dammit!  I changed my email to Tabby’s email, in case that was the problem (damn *smacks head* have just realised this may be why I am receiving no Fringe-related mail…).  I changed myself from ‘Manager’ to ‘Producer’, in case that helped.  I pressed REGISTER.  Oh bollox, bollox, bloody red words.  I scoured all fields again.  Fifteen minutes left.  This was when my screen chose to freeze, ball of death spinning.  I went upstairs to be nearer the wireless router.  Nothing.  Clicked on everything, as you do.  Zilch.  Just frigging frozen wastes. Bloody computers.  I debated what to do.  If I turned it off and on, would I lose my painstakingly entered info?  Possibly.  But what else could I do?

I turned it off and on.  I waited for the screens.  Still comatose.  During a teensy window of activity a boxette popped up which told me:  ‘Our website is currently experiencing a high volume of traffic…..’  Well of course.  All the luvvies had left it to the last minute, just like me.  Why didn’t I do it the week before, for God’s sake?  I banged my head on the photocopier a few times, chucked paper about and wept and wailed and gnashed my teeth in case that would help.  Finally I could not let my student wait any longer, so gave up and went out.

The next day, in a calmer mood, I emailed the Fringe office explaining that I was sorry to have waited til the last day, detailing my strenuous efforts.  They replied saying I could register over the phone, charged me the discount rate and were kind and forgiving.

Phew.  So that’s done, no sweat, lol.  I’ve only gone grey, again.  Gosh, sometimes you just think:  this is an awful lot of hassle for us to be able to strut and fret our 45 minutes upon the stage and then be heard no more.  However, such is the lure of theatre.  We must be addicts.

Choosing a Venue.

The rule I have learnt with choosing a venue is:  be decisive and get on with it quick by about February, as the good venues get booked up quick.  Don’t go for an incredibly popular venue.  They can afford to be too picky as to who they take, and some don’t let you know whether you’ve been accepted until it’s too late to find somewhere else.  One year we were holding out for the Bedlam, (and not only because they’ve got a wacky caff with soup of the day and gooey chocolate brownies… ) but they kept us hanging on in uncertainty well into April and were not that forthcoming when contacted for news.  I would have appreciated it more if they had just said straight out:  ‘Find another venue.’  I think it’s better to go with people who like the idea of your show, trust you to put on a decent one, and send you out forms and contracts straight away in a professional manner.

This year we’re going with SPACE.  We have gone with them before.  The first time we did the Fringe, our show had only two people in it:  it was Jason Robert Brown’s ‘The Last Five Years‘.  We were advised to be ‘humble’ on our first attempt.  We booked Jury’s Inn, a little theatre on the eighth floor of a hotel just off the Mile.   We were assured that is better to pack out a smaller space, than be having a nightmare trying to put bums on seats.  And we did meet other interesting folk doing it on a shoestring.  The show after ours was set in WW2: sirens wailed as you were queuing outside the room.  Reassuring ladies came out with blankets and lamps and led us into the ‘air-raid-shelter.’  It was immersive and completely convincing.

Even this time, third time round, we have booked a theatre with only fifty-five seats.  It’s enough.  The competition is intense.  We’ll have to work hard to sell tickets.  We’ll be out there on the Royal Mile singing snatches of ‘Lavender, Lavender, Sweet Lavender,’  and ‘One Nice Boot for Sale,’ accompanied by Alfie in his top hat on his oboe, and Old Ma Sivers floating benignly in Victorian garb, selling watercress. Mr Blood will be stomping about terrifying all the little children and Mrs Blood, in her best bonnet, will be pouring forth obscenely high arpeggios. Jem, Ned and Billy will be ‘argufying’ on their fiddle, flute and drums (we hope:  more on casting later.) Now, if we were the only show in town, this would be a fool-proof way to grab an audience.  People would come out of morbid curiosity and to see what Alfie was going to do with his oboe.  However you have to remember, at the Fringe you are competing with thousands of other casts who have honed equally vibrant methods of seeking attention.  If somebody decides to come to yours, that is an enormous compliment.  So putting the hours into publicity is essential.

And fun.  This is a picture of some of our crew from two years ago.  Your need to be noticed forces you to evolve.  You develop ruses to attract attention.  Little Bash and Alfie taking turns lying under a double bass or a tuba moaning and groaning for ‘Help!’ did the trick.

Help!  Help!

Help! Help!

Soon you can also book a couple of twenty-minute slots to perform on the Mile’s outdoor stages to give people a taster of your show and hand out leaflets.

Oh, shizz, I forgot all about blinking leaflets.  We’ll have to have them done next.  The to-do list becomes longer every time I think about the show.  And posters!  Not that there is ever much space for anyone’s posters.  Let’s hope SPACE manage to find some for ours.

Two years ago we printed some beautiful big posters for The Melody Blog, and by mistake sent them to Zoo Southside instead of Zoo Roxy.  They were all lost.  We didn’t know this til we turned up and saw everybody’s posters but ours on the walls.

One way to get people to come to your show is to go to theirs.  We will be doing a lot of this this year, as our show slot is from 1.30 – 2.30, so we’ll have the rest of the day to see other things.  SPACE venues give you comps to see any other SPACE shows for free so long as there are seats free.

So, how else did SPACE fit the bill this time?  Well, despite standing out in the pouring rain, Charles Pamment took my call and talked to me.  I could hear hail smacking onto his phone and wind howling round his ears but he didn’t seem to mind.  When I took a couple of days to think, he emailed me.  He remembered us from three years ago.  He immediately sent over clear, communicative documents with deadlines and prices, giving me several options of theatres that might suit.  Also, he pointed out that every morning of the Fringe, his Surgeons Hall venues hold a children’s festival.  This is brilliant, because it means that children will be going to the shows before and after ours and thus will be more likely to hear about ours.  We can help each other with publicity.  Surgeons Hall is also very central and easy to give directions to from the Royal Mile.  (‘Go that way, then right, and it’s on your left,’ type thing.)  And, as you can see, it looks well posh with its gleaming pillars which are floodlit at night.  It also has a sizeable outside cafe/bar area.

I chose Theatre 1 out of three.  The map of it just looked right somehow.  The stage is kind of triangular, in the corner.  It has a backstage area, very useful.  How can we really tell what it’s like without seeing it?  We can’t, so…. we just had to go for it.




A few weeks later, in early February, my daughter Tabby was admitted to hospital with a bad episode of ketoacidosis of the blood.  She had had a vomiting bug, always dangerous for diabetics, which made her blood glucose shoot up to the point where she couldn’t think straight or inject right.  She had been alone in her flat in Glasgow, vomming and hallucinating.  She tried to phone the emergency people but forgot it was 999.  She was dialling 222 for the third time when Macaulay Culkein, the boy from Home Alone, popped up beside her.  ‘Oh wow,’ she said, leering at him, ‘I never thought I’d meet you in the flesh.’

‘You’ve got to phone your boyfriend,’ said Macaulay.

‘What was it like, being in all those movies?’

‘You have to phone Kieran, it’s important,’ said Macaulay.  (Jeez, thanks, Macaulay.)

Tabby phoned Kieran and slurred her story about Macaulay being there.  Kieran called an ambulance and ran like the wind. Tabby’s blood glucose was 50.3 whatever-it-is-units upon admission.  If you know about blood glucose you will know this is terrifyingly high.  In the high-dependency unit Kieran made to sit in the chair beside Tabby’s bed.  ‘Shtop it!  You can’t shit there!’ she giggled, cross-eyed, on two drips, ‘Macaulay’s shitting there!’

So anyway, three days later when she was still in hospital and eventually I twigged that she had been really quite ill, Grandalf zoomed me up there in his tiny car.  I was pleased to meet the boyfriend as Tabby says he is very very good at singing bass, and acting.  Who could be a better Mr Blood?  (Apart from, of course, I add hastily, our 2007 Mr Blood, one James Richard Reginald Oscar Rowbottom, who was really excellent and very very scary.  But he has moved to Paris, which would be tricky.  We need someone constantly on site from around now so they can be mercilessly trained, he he, so sorry Jim…but I’m sure you are happy to be spared.)

‘Oh, hi, Kieran!  Would you consider being Mr Blood in our show?’

‘Just say no,’ said Tabby.  Still out of her head, obviously.

Kieran ignored her.  ‘Of course I will be Mr Blood,’ he said.  He is a gracious, kind person.

I started telling him all about the scene where he would feed Mrs Blood aka Tabby her hot potato and peas, and the one where he would slosh about going mental in the sewer with the rats. I sang him some of the songs.  Unfortunately, Tabby had pulled a muscle in her side from hours of intense projectile vomming.  Every time she laughed she would go into an excruciating spasm.  I was told off for singing: ‘Mr Blood runs an excellent establishment…but he’s FAT….WHO SAID THAT???’  I was badly berated for crooning: ‘These children can ruin one’s life…we gave them shelter, Mr Blood and his wife….’

‘Stop it, stop it,’ screamed Tabby, in agonies.

It seemed such a shame, to lose more than we gained, so we got evil, we got wicked, we got ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-aaad.’


I sat quietly for a minute with my eyes bulging with effort.  Then I whispered to Kieran across the bed, ‘Do you mind being Pa as well?  You’d have to wear a sack and sing:  ‘Put your best foot forward and you’ll reach the top… you won’t want to stop.

Tabby had a massive spasm.  Sigh.  I had to sit there and say nothing.  We realised our entire relationship since her birth (that’s almost twenty years) has been solid jokes and laughter.  There was lits nothing to say.  Even when I was being very good sitting there absolutely shtum, my very face made her laugh, so I had to go and sit in the caff.   God, she had really lost her sense of humour.  She even complained about the text I sent her the second day she was in hospital:  ‘Are there any dishy doctors?’

‘You really didn’t understand how ill I was, did you?’ she said.

‘Look, even a person on their death-bed can surely appreciate a dishy doctor,’ was my very sane view.  I mean, let’s be honest, that’s the whole point of going to hospital, isn’t it?

We have exciting news:  we are taking a show to the Edinburgh Fringe.  You may remember that years ago, Chloe wrote a musical based on a children’s book called ‘The Jammy Dodgers go Underground.’  Many kind and helpful actors, stage-hands, props people, lighting people, producers and musicians  helped us, in 2007, to bring this show to the stage, once in our house and once at school.   Bash and I still, in the car, sometimes spontaneously launch into the harmonies of Billy’s separation song:  ‘I’ve been left…left behind….and I’m bind with all these kids who are unkind….it’s late at night… this don’t feel right… I’m alone and scared without the light....’.  Jem and Ned come in with ‘We’ve got to find Billy…stop being so silly…but he might be dying, bet he’s crying….we’ll keep trying.’  Anyway, it’s all very catchy and quite daft.  It was the best fun ever, but for the last few years we have been sadly thinking of it as really and truly in the past.

Not so!  The other day I had an email from Bowering Sivers, otherwise known as Brenda, or, lately ‘Old Ma Sivers’, the author of the Jammy Dodgers.  Much email correspondence had gone on between us in the build-up to the school show.  She loved the musical and came to two of the performances, signing the books at the back of the hall.  We have kept in touch ever since.  So this new email said that Brenda was launching the e-books of the Jammy Dodgers, and could she come back to our school and find a new set of wonderful actors to play brothers Jem, Ned and Billy for the new interactive website?  After a few emails to help her get in touch with the school, we spontaneously decided that a Fringe version of the musical was just begging to be created, to celebrate The Jammy Dodgers bursting onto the digital scene.  After all, Chloe had managed, in 2008, with a lot of effort, to shrink the two-hour script down to forty-five minutes for entry into a ‘Lost Theatre’ competition, which came to nothing but was a bit of a drastic exercise in editing.

At the end of the Christmas holidays we managed to find Chloe’s old battered laptop and with surprisingly little hassle, located this ‘Lost Theatre Jammy Dodgers’ document.  Tabby had gone back to Glasgow already but Chloe and Bashi and I lay in bed with all the dogs and cats and a cup of tea, doing a sing-through.  This was not easy, as memories of the show made us die laughing so we could hardly get through it.  Alfie put his head round the door several times.  ‘Alfie, you’re Zeke,’ Chloe told him.  Zeke is Mr and Mrs Blood’s ghastly child.

‘What?’ said Alfie.

‘We want you on your oboe.’

‘Does Zeke play oboe?’

‘He does now…’

‘Come on Alf.  You get to wear a top hat,’ I said.

Bash said she really, really wanted to do the show, but Chloe was having a moment of doubt:  ‘Isn’t this a step back though?’

See, Chloe’s ‘Plato – the Musical’, my ‘Tits – the Musical’ and ‘The World according to Shardonnay – the Musical’ have all been recent contenders for possible Fringe efforts.  I said:  ‘Hmm, yes, but…it’s like, we have a commission.  That’s kind of cool, to have a commission.  And Plato the Musical is not ready.  Tits the Musical won’t be ready til we have a cast of fifty women willing to bare their breasts.  Shardonnay could be ready whenever, as it doesn’t have that many characters, just Shardonnay, her husband and the choir of blondie boys.  But Shardonnay can wait…’

‘Plus, doing Jammy Dodgers would be more fun,’ said Bashi.  ‘And I could be Clara…’

‘We’re cutting out Clara,’ said Chloe.

‘Cutting out Clara?’ we chorused in dismay.

‘Forty-five minutes!’ said Chloe.  ‘We can’t get the whole book in.  It’s not possible.’

She’s right.  She’s a realist regarding length.  Ooh, sounds rude, but isn’t.

‘The audience will mainly be children, remember,’ I said.  ‘And they don’t care what it’s like, so long as it’s fun.’

‘Hmm,’ mused Chloe, darkly.  ‘Children are the most demanding audience of all.’  She could be right there as well.  But the Jammy Dodgers is full of wonderful material for children.  Don’t kids love evil baddies?  Mr and Mrs Blood are absolutely brilliant nasty creations.

I said,  ‘Brenda is really excited about dressing up in Victorian garb as Old Ma Sivers and standing out on the Royal Mile, selling bunches of watercress.’

‘Really?’ said Chloe, brightening.  ‘….Oh god, all right then. We’ll do it.’

‘We could do Plato the Musical simultaneously,’ I suggested.

‘I would rather do one musical well, than two badly,’ she said.  Wise person.

So: the Tingeys are en route for the Fringe.  Whoopee.  I have decided to start blogging again, but this time not about cancer, not about gin club, but about How to Put On a Fringe Show, all aspects of.  (You will find all these posts in the ‘Tingeys go to the Fringe‘ category at the top of the home page, I hope, if Fred has done it properly.)  It’s a very interesting process and there is a lot to learn, even third time round.  Maybe it will inspire other creatives to give it a go, and they can learn from our bound-to-be catalogue of errors!  Never mind!  This is the Fringe.  People go there wanting to witness cheap and experimental barmy creations.  Tis not the Edinburgh Festival proper,  nor the Albert Hall, nor the Barbican, nor nuffin.

Come on!  We’ve only got four months to get this show on the road!

 (Again, all-new, exclusive article for your pleasure and information.)

Tu-Gin-Su, Hav-U, F***ing Boring and I went to the Castle. You go up New Town road and take a left. It’s tucked away, but cheerily lit and welcoming.

As soon as we went in I was just delighted. Why oh why have I lived in this town for fourteen years and never been in this place? It’s ADORABLE. A tortoiseshell cat called Titch lay sprawled across two bar stools. There’s soft pinkish flowery wallpaper. The place looks like it hasn’t changed for decades. Nobody’s messed with it. There’s a bell, a brass knight, a darts board, a Martini mirror. In the next room there is a Kit-kat clock, a Finest Scotch Whisky mirror, old paintings, wooden shiny panelling and notice-boards with kids’ pictures. We asked the bar-maid if a picture of a pub was the Castle. She asked someone else, who said, ‘nah, got that from a charity shop.’ They really haven’t tried too hard (in a good way). It’s original, and secret. Til now, ha ha.

We headed to a cosy corner near a fireplace, book shelves, a pile of board games, and a chilled chap called Paul who was doing the crossword. We stood our drinks on Brigadier beer mats with ‘Bang on,’ written on them. Tu-Gin-Su nodded at the curtains: ’1980s M’nS’. She knows about such things. We chortled over a ‘Worzel Gummidge’ annual, ‘The Commonwealth Book of Cricket No. 3′, and ‘Deborah’s Secret Quest.’

F***ing Boring went to the hole in the wall cubbyhole thingy to get more gins and kit-kats. She wants to set Hav-U up with her cousin. He’s popping over from some far-flung place. ‘You’ll only have a day and a half to make it work,’ she said.

Hav-U, in her normal, sceptical mode, looked singularly unimpressed with the plan.

Fucking Boring told us about her first wedding, in France. The priest ranted on in French for ages: ‘blurgh, blurgh, blurgh, blurgh.’ The interpreter waited several minutes for a little pause, looked at the congregation, said, ‘Firstly…’ and looked back at the interpreter expectantly. It was apparently very funny/you kind of had to be there.

‘Are we walking the ponies Sunday morning?’ asked Tu-Gin-Su.

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘of course.’

‘Or is it…hmm, weather-dependent?’ she asked.

I realised she meant, ‘You-not-being-hungover-dependent’. The last Sunday she met me at the ponies I was in recovery from Maura-next-door’s killer cocktails. Tu-Gin-Su took off rugs and picked up poos on her ownio while I lay on the grass puking quietly into the thistles. Not good. I should follow Fucking Boring’s lead and give up drink. My body has identified it as a poison.

I loved this pub so much though that when the others got up to leave, I borrowed two quid from the kitty and stayed for another half. The bar-maid didn’t realise I only had two quid til she’d poured most of a pint so I got the biggest half you’ve ever seen. I rang Fred who was on the train and asked if he would come home via the Castle. Got chatting to Paul in the interim. He said there used to be a great pub called the Fox, opposite the vet in Rye Street. ‘Pokey, three bars, proper olde worlde,’ he said wistfully. I told him I’d fallen instantly in love with this pub and he said, ‘yeah, it’s because nobody knows about it, we’ve got it to ourselves.’ Oops. Don’t say I told you.

Fred turned up and got a pint of Doombar in.

We rummaged amidst the board-games and came across: ‘Mid-Life Crisis.’ We couldn’t resist and started rolling the dice, hopping through our thirties, forties, fifties, and zapping each other with divorce and stress points.

Crisis after crisis drove us to drink: I had another Guinness, Fred tried a pint of Seafarer’s.

The game made us die laughing. ‘You discover your child’s nursery teacher is on drugs. Add 100 stress points.’ ‘Your spouse has been leading a double life. Take a CRISIS card.’ ‘You discover what a proctologist does for a living. Take a CRISIS card.’ ‘You haven’t been feeling well, so you see a psychiatrist who tells you you haven’t been feeling well. Pay £1000.’ I need to have this game for Christmas. Sign up anyone who wants to join in: we’ll be playing round the clock.

We said goodbye to purring black and white Oreo, and Titch. The bar-maid told us they are part of a great clan. It reads like Genesis: Mittens begat Alfie, Oreo, and Sprite, who begat Ella and Bisto, who begat Titch and Zorro…

‘Litrally’ what have I been doing all my life? *strikes head* I should have been taking a daily stroll with all and sundry through the grave-yard to the Castle.


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