JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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Although the Fringe doesn’t start officially until next week it would seem the weather most traditionally associated with this event is already with us. In fact it seems to have been with us since the winter. Cool temperatures, drizzle, daily rain and cloudy skies are weather traits more usually associated with winter-my heating has actually been on and I NEVER put my heating on unless it is freezing- and they seem to have been with us since, well, the winter if I am honest. Some might say this is consistent but I consider it more to be ongoing…and ongoing a little more. At least it can’t get any worse although those snow predictions for up north seem to dampen even that glimmer of hope.
Discounting the weather it already feels as if the Fringe has already begun: the Royal Mile is crowded, street performers are every where and the city is changing its shape to accommodate this festival which draws tourists from all over the world. If disruption and busy streets only serve to annoy and irritate then I suggest avoiding the city centre as much as possible until the first weeks of September- this is possibly the most idyllic and refreshing time in Edinburgh in my opinion- as much as is possible. Not that the Fringe is confined to the city centre any longer as it has migrated north into Leith which used to provide a safe haven and south onto the Meadows, where Underbelly are setting up camp.
As far as shows are concerned I have at last managed to navigate through some of the density of the bland and unfriendly programme and picked out some shows to start me off on my reviewing schedule. Top tips and must sees- based on my prior knowledge of contributors- are Rhuraid Murray’s ‘Allie’ at the Gilded Balloon(5pm), Fiona Soe Paing’s ‘Alien Lullabies’ at Summerhall (10.35 from August 12th), ‘Trainspotting’ at Assembly (8.30), ‘Balletronic’ at The Pleasance (9.30) and former Warhol acolyte Penny Arcade at the Underbelly(8.50).
Other shows also on my agenda include the musical ‘Lennon’, comedy with Tina C and ‘Her Story’, Doris, Dolly and the Dressing Room Divas’, ‘Raz’, ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’, ‘Bette Midler and Me’, physical theatre in ‘Dolls’ and a musical offering based on the music of Annie Lennox called ‘Sweet Dreams’. The latter is a bitter-sweet pill as much as I love early Eurythmics I loathe and despise their later work and much of her solo repertoire.
Mind you the good thing about the Fringe is discovering new things and every year there has been someone or someone who has made a huge impression so I am hoping to be similarly captivated this year. It could be by some newcomer or it could be someone who has been struggling around the fringes and finally hit their stride. This is the beauty of the Fringe and not the burger vans on every corner or the busy streets or the never ending queues.
If nothing else it beats yet another night in staring vacantly at the television. Not that there has been much of note on recently and certainly not much that could be called entertainment. However I did catch’ Reggie Yates’ Extreme Russia: Gay and Under Extreme Pressure’ last night and it did make me think that although we complain how bad things are here- a prime minister who refers to migrants desperate for asylum as swarms only scratches the surface- they are always worse elsewhere.
It would seem that under the auspices of Putin being out and proud is something that is no longer possible in what is supposed to be modern day Russia. A particularly interesting moment arose when the amiable Yates desperate to understand the motivation behind such rampant and aggressive homophobia hooked up with a knife carrying young man called Victor who insisted that if a homosexual approached him he wouldn’t necessarily use the knife but wouldn’t hesitate to ‘smash his face in’.
Taken aback by this level of anger and aggression Yates asked him to take him on traditional heterosexual Russian male pursuits. The first of these involved going to a sauna, getting naked then engaging in some light flagellation with some sort of floral whisk akin to the bunch of gladioli Morrissey used to swing around his head in such a heterosexual manner back in the eighties. Next up, dressed in traditional dress resembling a smock Boy George would slim down to fit into, they went off to a traditional folk dancing club. Yes all very straight and no underlying gay oppression, repression or anything else for that matter. None at all!
Taking advantage of the miserable weather I am heading off to see the modern day western ‘Slow West’ starring Michael Fassbender today. A bit late to the party on this one but it came out around the time of the Film Festival and I was a bit filmed out so gave it a miss. After that it is the Fringe all the way so see you on the other side!

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