And that’s that.

Wake up at about 9:30, knowing that I should get up and pack and at the same time not wanting to move at all, really. Force myself. Get up and have shower – feel much better.

It is now 11:00, and the train is at 2:00.

Start inserting things into bags. Put the sheet music I bought yesterday along with any flat bits and pieces into a big envelope that already contains the accounts stuff that I brought with me (and that I though I’d have plenty of spare time to sort while I was here… oops). Buy some parcel tape downstairs and tape it up. Then I take it to the Post Office around the corner and post it to myself (in London).

Cram everything else into bags and take the bags downstairs until there’s nothing left in the room but rubbish. Phil reminds me to take the rubbish and put it in a bin-bag. Now the room is bare, but for the duvet and pillows I bought, which I’m leaving to the flat.

I strap the two guitars, the bass and three bags onto my trolley, to make one collossal bit of luggage.

Joe tries to call the station to get information as to the running of the trains, no one seems to want to tell him.

Phil and I get a cab at 1:20. However, at the station there is no sign of information about the 2:00 train. Phil goes off to find information and coffee whilst I watch the bags. The comics arrive and ascertain that the train leaves from platform 21, which is over a bridge. On time. However the train before and the train after have been cancelled, so there will be chaos. Phil and I wait for the lift up to the bridge, a process which seems to take forever – the departure of the train is now imminent. On the other side we don’t bother with the lift, but just drag the luggage down. I go off to find the Guards van, where there is a revolution afoot – an angry crowd is demanding seats, and the representative of the train company is, frankly, laughing at them until someone suggests sitting in first class at which he gets shirty.

“First class is first class,” he says. Or rather, the rest of us are scum.

I put the colossal bit of luggage into the guard’s van and find our carriage (carriage B). I get on just as the doors are closing.

The carriage is chaos. Glenn Wool, on of the Big Value comics is talking a man into giving up his seat to two chinese women (who have the reservation on that seat and don’t really understand what’s going on). The man is claiming that reservations have been suspended, but is eventually shamed by Glenn into giving up the seat. I am impressed. I sit in one of the loos until one of the comics comes past and tells me about an empty seat near the others. Glenn Wool goes off to storm first class (later reports suggest that he does just this and happily sleeps through most of the journey).

There is a long wait at Newcastle, since the train is, apparantly lacking a driver. Every so often more people get on the train, which is now so overcrowded that the train can’t really get up to speed. The ETA, initially 6:30 is upped to 7:15.

At Durham the man sitting next to Sally Holloway leaves the train, so I get to sit with the group, which is nice. Various conversations. The ETA creeps up, and we finally arrive just after 8:00.

Laura meets me at the station and takes me home, and then we go to the Chez Gerard at the South Bank for dinner, meet Helmut of the Virtuosos (who is about to busk there), and then I go home and to bed.

And that’s that.

Until next year.

Management Have No Soul

Get up and go to the Gym (quite possibly for the last time, this year at this gym, anyway) and spend a nice couple of hours lifting moderately heavy objects, and sitting in the steam room (I do like the steam room – if only there were more non-euphemistic saunas and steam baths in the world).

On the way back I manage to track down a copy of issue three of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the new Alan Moore comic book.

Return to the flat in time to leave for the Nicholas Parsons Thing. It is in the same room as the Mervyn Stutter Thing. Despite the fact that the crew are the same, the soundcheck seems … different, somehow. Phil is right at the front of the stage, and Dave and I are right at the back, behind the curtain. We soundcheck Terry’s Dog. There is an incipient threat to do Deathbed. Soundcheck done, we return home and wait until we have to go to do the real thing.

When we get there, Parsons is in full flow, and the room is packed, despite the fact that all they are getting is an interview with Norman Lovett (no disrepect to Mr Lovett intended), one song from (as Phil himself admits) someone they’ve never heard of and an appearance from The Alternative Miss Edinburgh (a gay chap dressed up in a dinner frock and a female friend in a suit, somehow and unconvincingly claiming to be Barbie and Ken – not exactly the height of glamour and sophistication. I’d hate to see the runners up). And an awful lot of Nicholas Parsons, which is, perhaps, what they wanted, anyway.

We do Terry’s Dog and go home. Simple as that (well, Pete stays behind to flier the audience as they come out). The audience seem to enjoy it, but I can’t imagine that it will effect ticket sales for tonight, our last night, in any way. But the guy who does sound at the venue wanted bought a CD from Phil (having seen us do five songs in total over three appearances). Which is a very good sign, if you think about it.

Have a bit of a sleep, a bit of a noodle on my guitar and then off to the Cafe Royal for our last performance of the festival. Our last hide in the toilets. I do the gig without any music, and make no more mistakes than I normally would, so that’s a lesson for me. The place is far from packed (about twenty, maybe) but not on a high like some of the nights we’ve been having recently. The whole Monique crew come in to see us. Phil does all the thank-yous at the end and gives Pep (the miraculous sound-man) a present. Then a final round of bows and back in the toilet.

After packing up, I slip off immediately to the Tron to catch the last Edinburgh Songwriters’ Showcase. It gives me a chance to say au revoir to Pete Rowan, Ollie on the door and Ruaridh on the desk, and give Ruaridh his copies of Plucked and Secret Agent. The management call a halt to the proceedings before Peter gets a chance to play (which is a dreadful shame and just goes to prove that Management Have No Soul).

I return home, a little emotionally overcome for having two runs end on one night.

I sleep for a few hours in protest.

Get up feeling tired – think I should do the exercise that I’ve been putting off since Thursday, but decide that it would only make me tireder. Laura calls to say that she’s got a seat on the 12:00ish train home.

We are due at the Pleasance Over the Road at 4:30 for the Nicholas Parsons show, but there is no sign of anybody (inside the room is a performance of Puppetry of the Penis. Yes, that’s right). Pete finally verifies that it is the wrong day, and we are to get back tomorrow. This does not put us in the best of moods.

I sleep for a few hours in protest.

Ellie calls at about seven she’s been back in Edinburgh for a few days and suggests I go over for a cup of tea tomorrow. I get a sudden sense that we are running out of time.

The gig is well-populated again (about 40 people) and enthusiastic. Hurrah.

too presbyterian to appreciate it properly

We do Mervyn Stutter again, but this time we are on nearer the beginning, which makes for a more attentive audience (I often feel that the audience are a bit shell-shocked at the end of the how. I sneak Laura in to the show, so she gets to see the whole thing for free. I watch Simon Munnery (good to begin with, but runs out of steam a bit after an ill-advised paedophile gag – all comics are trying it at the moment because it’s “in the news” and then they look sheepish when the audience doesn’t laugh).

After the show is over we jet over to Peter Michael Rowan’s for tea. It turns out he lives just around the corner from where Laura has been staying (except she’s at the bottom of one page of the A-Z and he’s at the top of another so I didn’t make the connection – doh!). I was expecting a mug of tea and a chat, but the kitchen table is laden with all sorts of fine foods. Holly, Ruaridh, Pete’s flatmate and her kids and several other people turn up as well. It’s a lovely afternoon, both socially and weather-wise. Pete has a flat in a block of houses built by rebelling building-workers for themselves in the 19th century, and he’s right by the Waters of Leith river walk.

The gig is nice and fairly well populated.

After the gig Laura and I return home to the flat, where Dave has found a documentary about Nick Drake on the tv. I prevail upon him to let me watch it – despite my deep and abiding love of Drake’s music, I do feel slightly separated from the people represented in the programme, both his family and friends and his fans. The bursts of his music that appear on the soundtrack remind me of what I am really interested in. Still, Caroline Kendall and Malcolm Darwen appear at the end (Mal doing Pink Moon and Caroline doing, I think, Clothes of Sand).

Dave doesn’t want to go the Universal Party, and says so with absolute clarity. Laura and I wander down to the Three Sisters pub (?) where it is being held – just down the road from the Gilded Balloon. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t just a little gratification in joining the priority queue and being waved through by Phil (who’s at the gate, since he knows everybody). We get our identity bracelets (with free drink tokens attached) and join the throng.

One nice thing is that everybody is there – from Scott Cappurro down to the Burning Orphanage boys via Earl Okin and Peter Buckley Hill, but there is very little evidence of, well, business. Everyone is just having a good time. Laura being keen on dancing, we dance for a bit (I am noticably less keen on dancing), and then retire to a sofa to watch people for a while, which is actually quite fun. Delphine, who lived with us in the flat last year, comes over and we chat for a bit. People seem to be having animated conversations despite the fact that no one can hear what anyone is saying. My theory is that no one is saying anything, they are all just pretending. We try it – just making the right faces and gestures. It works perfectly. We leave at about 3:45am. Strange – it didn’t seem like we were there for three hours. As we are leaving, people are still trying to blag their way in (the party doesn’t finish until 6:00), which is also strangely gratifying. There is something nice about being on the guest list, I suppose. I’m just too presbyterian to appreciate it properly. Or something.

The Third World’s revenge on the First, perhaps?

I intend to go to the gym, but realise my t-shirt and other exercise clothing is in the washing machine along with the majority of my shirts. Potter. Go to charity shops to get more shirts. Buy three and wear one (a blue short-sleeved one).

I am now usually dressed entirely (save shoes and underwear) in clothes I have got second-hand Edinburgh. I worry whether this is a trend – that if I am not the only person who does a lot of clothes-buying in Edinburgh, and we are destroying the second-hand clothes ecosystem by transplanting vast numbers of shirts and trousers to other parts of the UK and, indeed, the world.

Having not managed to get to the gym, I get on a bus to see Laura, who is staying with friends near the Botanical gardens. A blind chap gets on – it might be instructive to repeat the conversation I overheard – he asked:

“Where are we?” (Important – that was his question)

To which a woman told him the name of the road.

“But where are we?” he asked again.

“Outside the post-office”

At this point the blind chap exploded – “That’s no good to me! You stupid woman! I need to get off at the first stop on Ferry Road! Idiots – you’re all idiots!”

Which elicited no further response, the various old ladies in his vicinity to shocked to say anything.

The driver became involved – I don’t know what he said to the chap, but it certainly quieted him down. And he got off at the first stop on Ferry Road, no doubt with a story complaining of the idiocy of the sighted.

I got off soon after that when the bus turned sharply right and began to go from Well Out Of My Way to Terra Incognita. Call Laura to explain my geographical inconvenience and walk to where in the A-Z Sally and Ian’s house, where Laura was staying, was supposed to be – this being Edinburgh, the road had one name and the houses on either side of the road different names (and all the names were variations on a few words), so it took me a while to find the right place, although it was blindingly obvious when I got there. Also discover that a number 8 bus goes from my door to that of Sally and Ian’s.

Very nice, big house. Have cup of tea and then visit the Botanical Gardens, where we hope to find some lunch. We find the tea-house, but they are not serving real food, so I make do with a coffee and a cake. Go into the gallery where there is an exhibition by Laurence Wiener, the kind of person who gives conceptualism a bad name. Very dull, and no less dull for being all over the house.

Next we visit the glasshouses – I am not, myself, a plant person, and cannot tell one fern from another. Interesting to see that most of my vices (coffee, chocolate and sugar) come from the tropical house. The Third World’s revenge on the First, perhaps? There was also the old Glasshouse where there was once a gigantic palm, which had to be cut down twenty years ago, because it was about to go through the ceiling (although I think that the proper Victorian response – this being a very Victorian sort of place – would have been to put extensions on the roof – something telescopic perhaps). My favourite room is the Arid house, which resembles a set from the 60s Star Trek.

Wander over to where Kath Tait and Jane Bom Bane are doing their show – a bit of an epic wander not helped by the fact that I get Broughton Street and Broughton Road confused and we stroll off in the wrong direction for five minutes. We are about to give up on the venue (it is, of course, at the opposite end of the road from that which we start from) when we come upon it. Hurrah. It appears that Jane has one hand in a bandage, but we don’t ask why.

Having ascertained that the start time is at 6:30 (in half an hour) we go to see if we can find anything we can call lunch. The only local thing is a baked potato takeaway, so laura has a potato with coleslaw and I have a roll with tuna salad (that is to say, largely cucumber). Having eaten it we miss the first minute or so of Jane/Kath’s set, which explains how she damaged her arm, so that will remain a mystery. Very fringey small audience (including children), but still very enjoyable – some great new songs from Kath. Sit around chatting after the performance. Get explanation of the dramatic fall that led to the bandage on Jane’s arm.

Stroll to the gig – smaller audience, more difficult to get “lift-off” as Phil puts it. Hang around the Cafe Royal for a bit. Go to all night shop and buy corned beef and make a sandwich. Tell myself that it is no worse than a kebab. Don’t entirely believe myself.

Wonder if that will come out on the video.

Get up early. Laura calls to say she has (top flight) tickets for the Brentano Quartet at the Queen’ Hall. Mervyn Stutter’ people call to ask if we can do the show that day. Er, no.

The concert is stunning – Haydn and Schubert quartets in the first half and Bartok’s quartet no. 1 in the second – absolutely devastating, and it is so nice to be in the same “acoustic space” as the performers. They encore with a nice bit of Mendellsohn, but I don’t know whether I wouldn’t rather have been left with the Bartok.

Go to a nice resraurant on Grassmarket for lunch, then return home for a nice lie down before I go to the Ross Bandstand.

I am becoming an old hand at this. I watch the Peggy Vestas do their set on the monitor and prepare myself. I always find it difficult to find anything to tell the “presenters” for their introduction, though, and since I did my last gig last night I can’t plug that.

I go on and do The Things You Get, Little Games, Where Did It All Go Right? and Comforting Lie. I really must write another one like that. It’s a lovely day, very sunny and warm, and there are moments of perfect pleasure for me. Wonder if that will come out on the video. Probably not. Meet up with Laura after the performance. Mention the video they gave me of it. she says that I’m not as heavy as that in real life. Ah, not flattering then. Watch Peter Michael Rowan do his set, and then say au revoir to the assembled company.

I go over to the Cafe Royal to see Simon Mayor and Hilary James do their show (Marooned With a Mandolin) and then stay in the room to watch Earl Okin. So now I have finally seen Earl Okin who is retiring from the Fringe this year. Old Horny Mouth indeed. Consequently I am already in the room when the Boys arrive, but sadly they didn’t worry about me a bit. I would have like a little bit of concern.

Tonight’s audience was lovely and large and warm, and since the Monique people cancelled, we could do an encore (Ed is at the Ritz – very skin of the teeth because we haven’t played it for months, and even then it was on the double bass).

The Monique people were in the audience, so we chat to them after the show – very enthusiastic, which is nice.

After the Bartok, the Bandstand, the two shows and the Hot Gig, I have a generally warm feeling to go to sleep on.

And huge portions.

My final gig at the Tron. I decide to do some final remedial flyering, but have a fatal loss of nerve. I go to the gym.

I go home and try to relax, get my faculties (and my mailing list card/merchandise/musical bits and bobs) around me and then pack them in a plastic bag to take to the gig.

Nice relaxed soundcheck, and then Laura arrives straight from the station. She offers to take the last of the fliers and distribute them on the High Street. Dave Harrod comes, and Phil Hogg arrives with his sister and mother, a detour on the way back from the very north of Scotland, and more people with Fringe Office tickets (which is very gratifying – real punters!), as well as some of the members of the Peggy Vestas. I start a bit late to let them in.

I think there are only a few people in, but when I finish the first song (The Things You Get) there is a solid wall of applause, so more people must have slipped in than I imagined. I finish up with Obvious and finally Comforting Lie. Iodine is the encore. Overpowering for me. I have a very real sense that I can do this: I can play to total strangers for an hour and keep them entertained. Some people have that belief in themselves naturally (whether it is true or not), but it takes some of us years to acquire it.

After the show Laura, Dave and I go to a mexican for dinner. Very nice. And huge portions.

documentary evidence of my own existence

I get my review. This makes me very happy. It is amazing seeing your name in print (particularly when someone is saying nice things about you). Also I now have documentary evidence of my own existence, which is always useful.

There is nothing else of particular import, I think. Perhaps I am getting blase.

The sun has come out, but I can take a hint.

Get up in plenty of time for the Messaien, but sit on sofa staring into space until it’s too late to go. Now determine to go to all the coffee-houses I can to leave fliers for next Tuesdays’ gig. The rain, however is bucketing. I go out with my umbrella to start my coffee-house quest. Buy papers. All the nearby cafes are packed – Saturday morning, and pouring with rain, of course that’s where people are. They’re not stupid, like some people.

I return to the flat to read the papers. Someone has left a chicken outside the front door – dead, plucked, possibly gibletted. Akimbo. Is it some kind of warning or threat – a local hibernian voudou, perhaps? Maybe someone was trying to post it through the letter-box. Perfectly good chicken, apart from the lying-on-the-pavement thing. Not so desperate for chicken that I’ll claim it. Leave it lying there for time being. Read papers – still no review in the Herald for Tuesday‘s show. Am beginning to worry that I wasn’t even good enough for a review (The Herald’s reviews are unstarred, so a poor review doesn’t have the salutary effect that a one-star Scotsman review does).

Venture out again and get as far as a second hand bookshop, where I acquire some jazz theory books, a dictionary of music (10p, but I got it for free) and a Carl Hiaasen book to put in my pocket (for those times when I need something to read). Wander around town in the torrential rain. All the cafes are full, and I can’t be bothered to rub steaming shoulders right now. Return the the flat (chicken still there) and watch teen tv (with the benefit of an episode of Daria) and try out ideas from the theory books. Repair upstairs and carry on woodshedding.

The sun has come out, but I can take a hint. Stay inside.

On leaving to go to the gig, discover that the chicken has disappeared as mysteriously as it arrived.

Forty people in tonight – nice to have a good crowd. Amongst them are Mervyn Stutter and a couple of loyal geordie Jeays fans. Drink with them after the gig. On the way back to the flat, meet Rob Adams on North Bridge. Apparantly there will be a review in on Monday or Tuesday, and it will not be disastrous. Somewhat relieved.

I receive an e-mail from my sister admonishing me for not updating the website. Remedy that.