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August 2010. By now, Jupiter should be a second star and we should be being warned we can go anywhere except Europa. Instead, tomorrow I’m taking a five hour train journey from Birmingham to Edinburgh (though the east coast route is an hour slower than the west coast, it’s both prettier as it trundles through Northumberland, and cheaper – £16.50 single) in order to attend the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

I have trouble deciding what to have for tea, so the 2,453 or so productions taking place over the next four weeks have the potential to lead me into a choice catatonia, but I’m sure I’ll be able – through indecision if nothing else – to find some things to see and do. My calendar shows you my current plans, mostly so I have something to refer to and hopefully won’t end up missing something I actually have a ticket for. It’s currently biased towards comedy, but I’m sure that’ll change over the next few days as I look more into the masses of theatre going on. And I mustn’t miss Barbershopera or Piramania…

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Command line search

Probably useful to no-one other than myself, but I’ve just knocked up a quick command line search interface to the official Edinburgh Fringe website. You can get it from github; it’s as simple as typing “fringe hamlet” to find everything with hamlet in the title, or “fringe venue:balloon” to find everything at the Gilded Balloon Teviot. It only shows 10 results currently, and doesn’t do anything helpful with dates, but it’ll do for sorting out today. Here’s an example output:

$ fringe asbo
Homo Asbo 17:45 Gilded Balloon Teviot
    The hardest man on the estate has just come out and has decided
    to go straight. Armed with only his guitar and ghetto blaster, he
    rewrites gay history and assassinates celebrity bad boys, bigots
    and men who wax.
Asbo Fairy Tales 12:20 C
    Snow White claims paternity against all seven dwarves on 'Jeremy
    Kyle'! Big, bad bailiff pursues three little pigs for credit card fraud!
    Moldilocks protests middle-class bear oppression! A proper mash-up
    of princesses and asbonauts innit!
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The final day

The final day of the fringe, and my final day in Edinburgh. <sob>

I started off at the Gilded Balloon (which I’ve been leaning to more frequently towards the end – 10 of the 16 times I’ve been here have been in the past 5 days) with Girl Constantly F***ing Interrupted, Caroline Peachey’s one-woman show about trying to coming to terms with the murder of her mother (in both character and, from reading the flyer we were given before the show, in real life). The character, Faith, has multiple personality disorder, and over the hour we see some of the inner and outward struggles someone in such a horrible situation is going through, but ultimately ending with hope for the future and the realisation that perhaps life is simply what you make of it.

Another one-woman quasi-autobiographical, yet quite different, production followed, with Long Live the King at the Assembly George Street. This told the story of Ansuya Nathan’s parents (though I did not realise this at the time), of their move to Australia when pregnant with her on the same day as Elvis Presley died. A very moving tale of integration and upheaval, with some excellent Elvis impressions and poignantly relevant soundtrack.

Lastly, was Bec Hill, who Didn’t Want To Play Your Stupid Game Anyway – her flyering of the Gilded Balloon 25th anniversary queue the night before paid off! From a marvellous advert for tampons (I really pity marketing executives who came up with the “jokes” we were told about) to what must be one of the best puns of the fringe based around a rule of grammer (okay, one of the best puns of the fringe at all), accompanied by lovely use of an A2 pad (always a winner in my book), this was a lovely show with which to finish my Edinburgh Fringe, on the theme of encroaching adulthood and extolling us not to forget our inner child – and given I’ve just spent a month doing basically nothing but that, I heartily concur 😉

And so all good things must come to an end. I’ve seen 136 shows in 27 days, which I’m not sure is any sort of record, but certainly seems like quite a lot to me – and I’ve always managed to get home by midnight apart from on the Frisky and Mannish School of Pop night 🙂 I’ve written, if not reviews, then summaries of all I’ve seen, mostly so that in the time to come I can actually remember what I did see, and I hope it’s been of interest to some people out there. This has been an extraordinary month, one I feel very lucky to have been able to do, and in customary end of show fashion, I wish to thank everyone involved with any part of the fringe – it’s all been completely marvellous and wonderful, without hiccup. Special mention must go to my sister and a friend for putting me up for the last four weeks, even if they hardly saw me; Helen Keen and Miriam Underhill who I bumped into yet again, were incredibly lovely, and shared a congratulatory end-of-fringe drink; and Twitter, without which my time up here would have been much more lonely, and I wouldn’t have got tickets for Tim Minchin.

If anyone has any questions or comments, please feel free to write below; I’m off back to Birmingham on the 10am train in the morning, when I imagine it’ll be some time before things seem normal again.

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Getting ready

With a bit of DNS wizardry and poking at bits of WordPress trying to remember what I’d done last year, I’m managing to reuse last year’s installation for this year’s adventure 🙂

Two events conspire to bring me to Scotland this year – I’m speaking at Edgelands, part of the Forest Fringe, on “What is digital innovation in the arts and why is it important?” (eek), and my cousin is getting married in Glasgow. So I thought I could probably fit a few shows in inbetween, as well as Edinburgh vs Stuttgart in the roller derby…

Due to disorganisation on my part, whilst we have £5 single train tickets back from Edinburgh to Birmingham at the end of our stay, all cheap train tickets had gone for the journey up north, so we’ve resorted to £9 single coach tickets. Two hours longer than the train, but much much cheaper – will stock up on the podcasts.

Organising has felt different to last year – then, the amount of time I had meant I decided to be (and could be) quite laissez-faire about booking things, as I knew I could always see it later on in the run. This time, I’ve decided to book quite a number of things in advance (even then, I was too late for a couple of things), perhaps slightly too many, but have still left a few gaps. We’ll see!

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