Shakespeare & Brambles

 

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So that’s August over with – mental, absolutely mental. However, all’s good in the world of Damo. The Mumble’s gonna continue, with most of Edinburgh’s theaters & venues letting me send reviewers in, mi god-daughter Kae-Lei’s albums nearly finished & we’ve got a few gigs coming up, starting this weekend at Linkey Lea in Haddington. My Jesus Jigsaw book has reached its final edit with my Literary Agency, & they’re gonna take it to the Frankfurt International Book Fair next month… & of course, the brambles are oot!

 

Elderberries & Brambles

Elderberries & Brambles

This is my third year of making Bramble wine, & I’m gonna get right on it. Already, mine & several friend’s freezers are starting to fill up with plastic bags full of brambles, while in my front room I’ve set off my elite wine-making factory system. Essentially, every 5 days I get to bottle 10 litres of wine – about 13 bottles, with the first lot due next week.  I’m gonna mix it with a couple of litres of pineapple juice, resulting in my first batch sporting the rather poetic title : Bramble & Pineapple Wine.

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I love picking the brambles, I’ve got loads of hotspots around Edinburgh, which of course is an immensely gorgeous & green place to wander about picking berries. This also presents my mind with the perfect places, moods & moments in which to muse & meditate upon my work. This led to a complete gathering of my Arthurian material, & a grand readying of it for the writing of a future book on the subject, which would contain my ultimate conclusions to several years of study, including a last minute swerve from the Yarrow Stone’s being Arthur’s grave, to actually being that of his grandsons.

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I did all that two days back, in the National Library of Scotland, finally freeing up my mind from the Dark Ages. But, I cant just shut off like that, & once back at home, in a sense of liberation, I thought I’d briefly check out my Shakespeare-in-Italy idea. I’ve had quite a lot of the bard’s books in my library for a long time now, but have always been waiting for the right moment to get into them – so I’m guess that’s just about now.

 

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I know I’ve got some kind of curious gift for historical research, & its all a bit like scrying as I get sucked into googling information, when within a few hours of work I have usually completely penetrated the mists which obscure some of the greatest mysteries on the planet. One of these is Shakespeare’s lost years (1585-1593) which took a little longer to solve – about 36 hours (including two sleeps), but I’ve definitely cracked it. So, I’ve decided to whip up a book on the subject in double-quick time, in which I shall show how Shakespeare not only toured Italy, but reached as far as Turkey, in which place he met the ‘dark lady’ of his sonnets….

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As a post-script to this blog, here are a few images of the fireworks ready to be fired from Edinburgh Castle. I was given access as part of the Mumble the other day, after which I found myself for the first time within the confines of the castle itself – a perfect reward for working my ass off through August.

 

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Happy Mumbling

Its been quite a successful August, really, for the Mumble (www.themumble.net). We manage to get into the national press, & also get our reviews & stars pasted up all across Edinburgh. After reviewing Made in Ilva myself, I got this lovely response back from the main actor.

Don’t know how to thank you
for getting so much our work with the terrific review of MADE IN ILVA
Is breathtaking
one of the deepest we got
thank you so much

 

So here’s just a few of those reviews/stars, plus a few photos of Edinburgh;

 

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That Adam Riches Eruption

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By Harry Venning (Guardian Newspaper)

Just as I was getting into writing poetry about the Edinburgh festivals, along comes some nobbish simpleton to knock me off my stride. His name is Dan Pursey, the boss of Mobius PR company from London. Back in July, Mobius had given me a press ticket for Adam Riches, which I gave to Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert to review. The morning after the show I recieved the following, which Mark admitted to writing while he was pissed. To give ark credit he rang me up beforehand & said Adam’s show was pointless, but I said he should still review it, though.

Adam Riches

Adam Riches

 

The review made me laugh out loud… so I put it up on the Mumble. A couple of days later, Anisha Fields at Mobius contacts me with the following;

Hey Damo, Hope you’re having a good Fringe so far. How are all the Damo doubles getting on around the city? Just wanted to send a quick email about Mark Divine’s review of Adam of the Riches. We’re really keen to support up and coming websites, and as you know, are happy to provide tickets to you guys to all our shows. We’re also completely open to critical feedback too, from anyone, provided it seems thought through. On the whole, I can see your site does that. But I’m afraid Mark’s review just felt, well, a bit lazy, (and full of grammatical errors), as well as being factually incorrect (…from yorkshire?) and it didn’t reflect well on you guys, which is a shame. We’re an agency, so when reviews like that do crop up we can have to answer to clients why that journalist was let in to begin with. Not in this case, but that will and has happened on other occasions, and I certainly wouldn’t want our relationship with you guys to suffer as a result of reviews like that. Anyway, that’s our two cents.

After replying, “he’s a special case is our ‘divine’ – & a law unto himself – he’s beyond the reach of both our remits,” her boss & the aforesaid bell-end, Dan Pursey gets involved. Basically he began to threaten to scupper the Mumble if I didn’t take the review down, which include;

1 – I’m afraid we can’t run the risk of booking press tickets for The Mumble if our clients are going to be met with such a lack of respect for their work. Obviously, I hope we can avoid canceling the rest and continue as we have been thanks a lot

2 – We’re going to cancel the outstanding tickets because we can’t trust that this won’t be repeated. In doing so, i am going to write to all the venue press offices and the Fringe press office to explain why. I am then going to write to other remaining press reps in Edinburgh to express our concerns about The Mumble, and explain the decisions we’ve taken. Alternatively – take the review down, and let’s not ruin a good thing.

3 – I hope that, when it comes to securing press tickets this year and in the future, you feel the moral stand you’ve taken in defense of the standards of writing in that review has been worth it.

At the end of the day, The Mumble is an honest website, designed to help would-be show-goers make an informed choice. We cannot be bullied out of our integrity.

 

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Dan Pursey – looks like a bell-end too!

 

So I went to sleep with his  threats rattling mi head. Waking up in the morning, however, & I thought the best thing to do was to put his threats up on Adam Riches review. Interestingly, Mark sent me a re-written version of the review – quite unprovoked – which I put up as well. You can see the full review here, including the initial response to it from a couple of Mumblers, including Mark himself.

Steve Bennet

Steve Bennet

A week or so later, the story began to break. First up was Steve Bennet of the Chortle, who wrote the following article


A considered opinion?
Threat to block ‘disrespectful’ blog’s free tickets

A row has erupted on the Edinburgh Fringe after a PR company threatened to withdraw free press tickets from bloggers for not showing enough respect to the comedians they are writing about.
Publicists at Mobius laid down the ultimatum after Mumble Comedy wrote a three-star review of former award-winner Adam Riches – saying that if the review was not altered or removed, they would not issue any more tickets, and spread the word to venues across the festival, too.
In return, the blog accused the company of trying to intimidate them into taking down a poor review – saying: ‘We cannot be bullied out of our integrity’.
However, some changes to the review, by Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert, were made after Mobius first got in touch – including correcting the spelling of Riches’s name.
The row is likely to spark debate over the line between established media and fans setting up an online presence in order to score free tickets.
Mumble’s review as it currently stands reads as follows:
‘It was a damp and wind-swept night and the welcoming warmth of the Pleasance Dome began to relaxed me into a state of mind ready for comedy. Tonight it was Adam Riches, a successful comedian with more awards that you can shake a stick at. Joining me was a capacity audience who clearly knew what we were in for. Alas I didn’t. With lots of audience participation, Adam humiliated his carefully chosen audience members who were middle class and loving every moment of it. Adam utilises different characters drawn from history, all of whom had a Yorkshire accent, which is a star point in itself. Taking his lead from vintage comedy telly, Adam was silly, pointless and yes, good fun. Which is just what his audience wanted. If you like trashy throw-away telly. Adam’s your man. Two Stars and one extra for being from Yorkshire. So That’s Three. Stars.’
Riches was was born in Cambridge, and raised in Glasgow and London – not Yorkshire. Although his opening character, Sean Bean, is from there.
Mumble Comedy’s ‘CEO’, Damo Bullen revealed the pressure from Mobius in a message beneath the review, accusing them of ‘chucking their toys out the pram & ask[ing] me to take it down’.
He refused saying: ‘Everyone’s entitled to their opinion & that Mark simply could not get into the comedy of Mr Riches.. The Mumble is an honest website, designed to help would-be show-goers make an informed choice. We cannot be bullied out of our integrity.’
Despite Bullen’s defiance, Dan Pursey from Mobius said the review HAD been changed since it first appeared – although Bullen insists any changes were ‘cosmetic’.
Pursey said: ’The original review also contained some very odd references that, apart from anything else, gave the impression our client’s work hadn’t been met with the respect, care and attention it deserved. These have since been removed. ‘
‘We really do support and encourage new titles, websites and critics and like to offer them access to write about our clients’ work where we can. We also totally acknowledge that everyone is of course entitled to their own opinion.
‘But when we initially (very diplomatically) expressed our concerns the site representative was quite uncooperative, and my worry was that this could be an attitude that stretched across the site. I’m sure it isn’t, but had there been more evidence of care, I wouldn’t have had to push quite so hard to get them to pay attention.’
It’s understood that after the original contact from Mobius the sentences ‘Taking his lead from vintage comedy telly’ to ‘Adam’s your man.’ were added, and references to the critic’s urge to go home and ‘listen to his Tricky CD’, and spend more time in his leopard print pyjamas with a large mug of tea were removed.
Speaking to Chortle, Bullen added: ‘Do you know what annoyed me the most – it was his brash, aggressive condescending attitude that wanted to sink my ship when a lot of people – performers, reviewers, back stage staff – have benefited from it.’
Mumble Comedy – a free WordPress blog that uses unlicensed clip art to illustrate the number of stars – was set up for last year’s Fringe and only publishes for the festival. It currently has 140 ‘likes’ on Facebook.
And they haven’t got around to writing their ‘About Us’ page, which says: ‘This is an example of a page. Unlike posts, which are displayed on your blog’s front page in the order they’re published, pages are better suited for more timeless content that you want to be easily accessible, like your About or Contact information. Click the Edit link to make changes to this page or add another page.’

 

Brian Logan

Brian Logan

Next to get hold of the story was Brian Logan of the Guardian, whose own article on the matter reads;

Critical condition: how comedy coverage at the Edinburgh fringe is changing

Adam Riches
Review controversy?

As the mainstream press withdraws from Edinburgh, there’s been a rise in alternative voices. Some new reviewers will be learning on the job – just like novice standups

My colleague Lyn Gardner wrote last week about “a critical exodus from the fringe by the mainstream press”, and I share her concerns. The issue is discussed in comedy circles too: I’ve spoken to several PRs who say they haven’t had much to do at this year’s fringe, because coverage in the mainstream press is so diminished. Of course, the flourishing of alternative critical voices online is an exciting development, but perhaps not yet an adequate replacement – as one confrontation last week made clear.

The contretemps – as reported at Chortle.com – was between the arts PR agency Mobius and the website Mumble Comedy, and it concerned the latter’s review of the former’s client, the comedian Adam Riches. Mobius contacted the website to express displeasure at – and request amendments to – a three-star review that lacked “the respect, care and attention [Riches] deserved”. That was met with what Mobius call an “uncooperative” response, which led to the PR threatening to withdraw free tickets from the website. The blog’s editor, Damo Bullen, posted an angry response, insisting “we cannot be bullied out of our integrity”.

The review that caused the fuss can no longer be read in its original form. Mobius’s complaint seems to be, not that it was critical of Riches’ show, but that it was half-arsed (it misspelled Riches’ name, for example). Even the revised version is a little slapdash and impressionistic. But does that justify Mobius’s threatened withdrawal of privileges? And what does the fuss tell us about the state of fringe criticism?

On the former point, I don’t think any publication – not the Guardian, not Mumble Comedy – has a divine right to free tickets. With rights come responsibilities: publications have to demonstrate a degree of professionalism, commitment and (pace Mobius’s complaint) respect. (They probably also need a readership – or the likelihood of acquiring one.) On the latter point, well, there’s clearly a frustration in some quarters that – as the mainstream press withdraws from Edinburgh – acts are ever more dependent on the opinion of often inexperienced and unauthoritative reviewers.

That’s not meant to denigrate amateur criticism, or professional online criticism, which supplies much of the best writing around the fringe. (It’s also worth noting that critics of all stripes have been unpopular with artists since the year dot.) But we should be more explicit about the fact that – as BAC artistic director David Jubb discussed on Twitter last week – “Edinburgh is [the developing] critic’s equivalent of scratch” – ie a place to learn in public, and seek feedback in order to improve.

The them-and-us, /de haut en bas/ relationship between critics and artists (or their representatives) is never helpful, but least of all when many critics have yet to earn trust or demonstrate commitment to the artform they’re writing about.

In that context, dialogue is good. The world of Fringe reviewing is changing, and it’s in everyone’s interest that the new model – which will include a far wider range of reviewers and publications than the old – foregrounds lively and intelligent discussion of the artform. That’ll only happen if all parties speak to one another about what they want criticism to be.

It’s a shame the conversation got antagonistic, but Mobius did the right thing by contacting Mumble Comedy with their concerns. We probably all intuit that some writing – the careful, attentive, “respectful” kind, perhaps? – constitutes valid criticism, and some writing doesn’t. We’ll only know where that line should be drawn if we talk about it.

Next to chip in  were Fringepig, an anti-fringe website whose Billy Coconuts offered ‘respect to The Mumple for oupigging us,’ while dissing the site a bit at the same time.  Its all rather nteresting, & it sounds like I’m some kind of harbinger in some kind of revolution in comedy reviewing! So anyway, to conclude the wee saga, Harry Venning of the Guardian does that wicked lampoon that began this blog. All-in-all, a successful re-launch of the Mumble – in the next post I’ll show how much the name was used by acts all acrosss Edinburgh.

 

Fringepig's version of one of our pages

Fringepig’s version of one of our pages

Tuesday 5th August

Shows – 13
Hangovers – 3

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A mental shift to music, I have writ
Some lovely songs, & over years have found
A heap of great musicians to help raise
My music to the tapestries of art,
But never a great singer, til the voice
Of mine own god-daughter, Kae-Lei Stowell
My best mate’s daughter only just fourteen

These past few days Ive organised two gigs
For her to play a week or two from now
One down the Cowshed, the other up Tron Kirk,
& so as chessmasters think well ahead
I head down to Wee Al’s, yon Lochend Park
I start to teach the set we soon shall play

After an hour I trip off into town
& Venue 13 off the Royal Mile
A special little theater that gives
Those special little companies a chance
To strut their stuff upon this global stage
& sitting in the theater I wait
For entertainment, & a play called Fleeced!

There is a certain talent in our youth
Ebullient, with voices pure as air
Im whisked into a childish fairytale
Of Golden Fleeces, & the Golden touch
Of Midas, ebony Odysseus
A true highlight, his numibian skin
Assuaged by his delightful debonair

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I wander thro the streets to Summerhall
Old college veterinary, the hub
Of proper art, y’know the kind that bites
The senses, as when Eve her serpent met
& with a chomp the wisdom of the world
Formed Zarathustran prophecies long lain
Dormant in the recesses of the mind
Where scowling wolverines scavenge for food

To a cramp’d & musty brickwork cellar…
A stage of innovation, crowd stood round
A table, two actors perform ‘The Flood,’
Right in our faces, two metres away
A sad tale of this centenary year
Of World War One, betwyx soldier & nurse
Through letters & leave, their love murder’d short

“Will it be my last act, to scream your name
As I lie dying, dismember’d, wet trench…”

& so into the sunshine shuffling slow
My sense humbl’d, quality perform’d
To such keen heights, I fall in love once more
With the human ability to find
A certain truth, tho’ feigning to pretend
That there is truth eternal in our ways!

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Monday 4th August

Shows : 10
Hangovers : 2

Part of making any endeavour is that each one has its own special problems. It’s the nature of the process. Martin Scorsese

There is a certain roughness in my mind
Waking up down Trinity, to walk
Pretty paths up to Victoria Park
Pass Ferry Road til Pilrig & my home
Where dozing off I feel my spirit roused
The weekend’s reviews inbox unopened
& leap up off the bed prepared to go!

I find myself well beyond the Bridges
Passing New Empire Bingo Hall, enticed
Within by a strange curiosity
To see this brand new venue for myself
The next corner of this land of stages
To give itself over to the Free Fringe
& glad I was to enter its confines

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Where ageing dear normally sit sweating
I sit down with a lovely cup of tea
& see the Rebel Rouser’s greying quiff
Pluck music the fifties, full of fun,
He’s more than just a turn, dynamic voice
Invigorates the crowd, a clapping gang
In celebration of the fun of life!

Next port of call the old Forest Cafe
De-hippied, now a shrine to cabaret
The Ruby Dolls, four grasshopper lasses
Chirping through such a musical cortege
Chopping & changing genres as they drive
The mind’s electric chevrolet along
Imagination’s validating vibe

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I am starting to feel the change of pace
That turns all this reviewing to a race
As minutes tick, the footsteps quicken beats
Rat-running round Auld Reekies freakin’ streets
With seconds wasted here & there as I
Hit solid man-flesh masses on the Mile
Ducking & diving, dodging flyers wide

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Now sat am I inside B’est restaurant
Two hours of Faulty Towers, & a meal
Immersed in the genius of John Cleese
That struck him in the seventies, whose muse
Created perfect mirrorballs of life
That now have sprung to life before my eyes
Tickling me to hysterics, chew-on-chew

I meet wee Al & his pals down Malones
& marvel at a man from Dublin Town
Whose voice of sweetend gravel’s wide ouvre
Dance over his guitar’s fat, funky grooves
Oerlaid by that fine Irishness, as I
Relax a while, a fosters in my hand
The Festival all round, & in me stirr’d

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I head down to the Pleasance, where fair Grace
From Lebanon, has just returned reviewed a show
& get to meet her properly, she’s hot
A twenty-nine year old, enstudied here
& thank her with a G&T, as we
Disect her recent Mumbles for a while
Before we part, & I delve into night

Returning to my room, a pleasant sleep
Soon covers me in slumbers, through the night
I dream of spheres where elevated thought
Shall prosper these next weeks, a mind reborn
A heart unworn, a spirit undenied
Connecting with the hedonistic swirl
Of arts to me unseen, tho yet to come…

Saturday 2nd August & Sunday 3rd August

Shows – 7
Hangovers – 1

We will either find a way or make one

Hannibal

A muggy, grey day & the air is cool
Two joggers do dressage thro Pilrig Park
Out of a bed & breakfast three old dears
Drag purple flight bags to the taxi home
For tho exists three weeks of art employ’d
Some touch this festive world for bare one day
But better to have lived & loved, they say

Full thirty years of the Pleasance, today’s
Press launch begins with coffee & cookies
Then taking seats to puppet dinosaurs
Myself & Sarah Lewis, Mumbling new,
View Olympic accapellans, wild song
From Voca People, clad in eerie white
Boom-booming human beatboxers unbound!

John Hastings takes the stage, twelve jagerbombs
Still keeping him alert, as with tourettes
A lass called Jess shouts out, “BISCUITS,” betwyx
The punch-lines of comics like Angie Barnes,
The high octane theatre of ‘He had
Hairy Hands,’ the surreal, sublime stagecraft
Of Eglantine Whitechapel spectral world

After the surprise cake & the speeches
To celebrate the Pleasance love of art
Four men of a certain age take teh stage
Speaking, ‘Forgotten Voices fronm the past
The words of long-lost Tommies, as they read
The woman with Tourettes, every ten secs
Says ‘Cats’ or ‘Biscuits’ doing my head in

Then the finale, on Jess Myers’ stage
This is Brasil, rivers & rain forests
Roll across our soul, as onto the stage
What lithe, young smiling dancers shimmy down
With long, dark hair all waving to the groove
Of such a funky band of bass, guitars,
& drummers energizing in our minds

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Walking home, the end of Princes Street
Stern-faced women clad in sombre black,
Protesting at the death of young children
I share my theory Israel’s skirmishes
Are contrivedto use up stockplied missiles
& gain a chilling response, ‘these missiles
Are advertised ‘Field-Tested’ by Israel

I pass the day relaxing at my flat
Ready to rave away into the night
With a lovely lass called Lydia, we met
In the street outside the Laughing Horse launch
& now were sitting in the BBC
Tent, watching cabaret for half-an-hour
Then left early to watch some comedy

We found it in a church where Amused Moose
Gave us their laugh-off, hilarious mix
Comics from all quarters of the globe
Gave us the better samples of their shows
Where half-way thro, I passed Lydia
A little pill, & when the curtains dropped
We headed into night as high as stars

From there the weekend blended into one
Gin & wine & cider downed aplenty
“From now, the Mumble doesn’t do Sundays!”
I quipped, when playing pool way-down Leith Walk
& said it once again down Newhaven
When ‘Last orders’ rang round the Old Chain Pier
Not long before I passed out at a pals

Friday 1st August

Shows : 5
Hangovers : 1


In all your endeavours strive to position yourself in the centre of the whirlpool

Kazuo Inamori

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I wake up to the words of Mark Divine
He’d done his first reviews all through the night
‘The Holy Grail of festiv’ling,’ he’d said
Was to review, & chuff’d he’d joined my team
Immersed himself in words & theatre
& living life for all thats good in life
& sent me these two stanzas, once composed

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The house of mirrors returns.
To be the home of magic journeys.
Attracting the world artistic collaboration
To share the platform with all that the mirrors draw.
Pleasured by the chameleon changes.
Never questioned just rejoiced.
In The pleasure of stimulating craft.

A universe of genius.
Forever moving.
Through the heart of rich explosions.
Aural Delights That “Shift!”
The inhibitions of normality.
To explore the rhythm of fun and love.
In August and Early September.

Mark Calvert. August 1998.

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Ive got the keys to Victor Pope’s mad flat
On Dixon Street, while he’s gone into town
To queue up for a busking slot this day
Two hours it takes to upload my reviews
& type up yesterdays poetry carved
From all these wondrous arts, Victor returns
He’s got a slot today at half-pats five!

Now, one home-cooked, pork pasta to the good
Two portions in my freezer in clear tubs,
I bounded up Leith Walk all full of beans
The city not yet bursting at the seams
Tho set for many revels, many moods
When many travelers munch many foods
At this Universal table of life.

How apt, my first show of this first full day
A musical should be, Ive written five,
Today, the ever timeless Odyssey
Reminds me that this year Scheria waits
My visit, for I think it lies off Crete
Where I’ll show how Stesichorus once carved
The song that this array of young hearts sing.

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Their story leaps beyond old Homer’s pen
All thro Ionic cycles, as the gang
Moves with expression, & symbiotic
Willows oer the stage like rising smoke
That from the flames of Vulcan’s forge did rise
& as they sing of Troy & the Nostoi
They blend their comic twists with bright panache.

With siren-song still ringing in my ears
Proper pronunciation of Greek names
Its happy bedfellow, these feet reswerve
Back to the streets, & at St Andrew’s Square
It seems the Bookfest is a month early,
Champagne & deckchairs… & wow! funky bars
Fine art & stalls & tented stages cool!

Soon all this city shall a great stage be
Ballet doon Newhaven, while up Oxgangs
Future Pavarottis seen struttin’ their stuff
For year-on-year, encroaching on the lives
Of Edinburghers, FESTIVAL arrives
As if they were the braves of Zululand
Afore Rourke’s Drift, an Empire to withstand

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Thursday 31st July

Shows : 3

Poetry is indeed something divine… it is the perfect & consummate surface & bloom of all things

Shelley

My day begins with showers & the sun
These ways of Poesia’s best begun
As I await a catalyst or two
I taste a leaf-tip plasma-drip of dew
Taking a stroll down South Fort Street, & then
Bare left down Ferry Road, bare left again
Up Bonnington, as through me verse-force flew

Lets go, lets go, listening to Disco
Grooving to the music up Broughton Street
Past John Lewis, a better class of ass
Has bobbl’d into town, appears the rears
Of prancers from France, Dutch ballerinas
Young highland dancers, thin senorinas
& well-nourish’d babes from Kensington!

I meet a mate, sweet Dave McMenemy
He’d fallen for the Mumble twelve months past
A Fair Trade dealer, time upon his hands
He loves to ride his cycle into town
& there embrace the world with his wise words
When as we share a beer down the Pleasance
We meet a handsome chap from Bournemouth borne.

His name is Tim, a twenty-two year old
Who’d overtimed his way into a room –
East Claremont Court – & started to review
The shows he’ll see, some uiversity
Of all that rolls bohemian thro life,
“Welcome aboard!” I offer him the keys
To all this city’s culture, Mumbling free

The Pleasance empire spreads oer the Southside
As up to Bristo Square I surge thro sun
& take a seat in the Grecian Queen’s Dome
To see three student players do their thing
Jane Upton’s Swimming, to a sea-swell sound
We sail into a funny beach-shack world
Of pretty workers struggling thro life’s tides

I loved the chat, oploaded with aplomb
The street-slang of this ever-cocky land
Of nigger babies in a white girls pram
Of masturbation blistering the hand
Of tits & minges, sucking cocks & crabs
Of little lives bounden by teenage ties
For this is real life in a compact guise!

Time swung & I cruised up onto the Mile
The traffic stopped to serve the grand Tattoo
& there met two new Mumblers, Jess & Derm,
They’re working on their own show this August
Spectrum – a moving play on Autism
On every second day, & inbetween
They’ve joined my team, & keen I am theyre here

We went into the HUB, the EIF’s
Magnificent castle that towers oer
Edina’s gorgeous stresst, & fields & hills
& there we met the Press Team, who met us
With cocktails quite delicious, passion fruit
Syrup swirling on the tongue, as talk
Refined, defined, our Mumbling yet to come

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& what a bag of goodies gave they us
A whiskey bottle, pens & notebook too,
Fudge quite excuisite, tickets for two shows
A splendid Christmas stocking for the press,
& thanking them we went off once again
Into the evening air, to Fountainbridge
Where No Fit Circus, too, were welcoming…

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… We press-types to the launch of their own show
The baroque swirl of acrobatic feats
They’ve monickered Bianco, vibrant feast
Of moving cages & a tight, slick band,
Conducive to a wonderful array
Of thoughts in motion to sensory gusts
Of theatre, spectacular unbound!

As soon as the booze ran out, I did one
Happy that I had two happy guys
To write the review, Jess was scribbling down
The highlights that Bianco had inspired,
The handsome, muscular tightrope walker
The spinning black girl arching like a worm
& that band, supreme as music’s muse enjoys!

Wednesday July 30th

Now, primed on Lear,
Milton, Gibbon, Wordsworth, he’d set himself
to re-imagining an epic grandeur

Amy Clampitt

The morning sun streams golden in my head
‘An extra hour…‘ I whisper in my head
For after that there’ll rare a respite be
From parties, shows, reviews & poetry
An extra hour… & with my slumber done,
I set off with replenish’d energy
In search of everlasting fame & fun

They saw it from a distance, as a speck,
Now Arthur’s Seat towers oer mind & soul
With staff IDs enribbon’d round the neck
They step within the never ceasing squall
That drives this festival, a young lad lost
Asks for the Pleasanace, late for his first shift
I show him paths, then dreaming on I drift

I headed into heap’d up Bristo Square
A pretty frauline avalanching hair
Stands handing out free tickets for a show
Some play about the life & times & lies
Of Howard Zinn, of course I can but go
So let the Games begin, the Gilded Balloon
Gives birth to golden meanings in this mind

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Los Angeles, far land of teeming dreams,
Where actors, singers, sportsmen, models, meet
With gangsters, dealers, gimpsters, pimps & molls
& from its ferment rises monstrous art
No quiet troupe of amateurs from Kent
But thought-provoking history of when
The Allies bomb’d wee Royanne, near Bordeaux

“Burning hospitals is a crime!” these times
See missiles stripping Gaza of its pride
As outside in the Square a protets blarees
“Killing children is genocide!” the cries,
Israeli-funded theatre the cause,
Which inbetween the louder narratives
Disturbs our auld Euripedean flow

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The point of this smart play is how can man
Terror destroy by using terror too
Of how militaristic men surge on
When wars are won & foes are sick of war
As through this, from outside, “Free Palestine!”
Seeps onnto stage, til with a final bow
My muse, this globe & robed Apollo stand!

There is a swiftness to this happy vibe
A press launch at the Caves, a comic feast
of Vixens from the stars with disco lights,
Magicians pulling jokes out of the air
& Blackpool comedy from Mick Ferry
& fifteen other acts, upon the stage
For just three minutes of their hour-long shows

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I meet a pal, Assembly’s garden grand
Four twenty-five a pint of Heineken
Or Fosters for three-eighty, three cute girls
Excited by the Mumble’s burgeoning
Give me their emails for reviews to come
Then tanked up on free booze downed at the Caves
I lurch towards my first official date!

So… Benny Boot, London comedian
Altho distinctly antipodean
Launches into his quirky diatribe
& smiling thro a slightly awkward vibe
Drags smiles out from a year of famine fun
With his slightly surreal observations
Delivered with a nervous afterthought

His best joke was a story on seagulls
Of how them stealing chips is ne’er rebuked
Those ballsy birds, amusing to a tee!
& as I scribbled down these antic lines
I senses he sensed I was reviewing him
& placed a pretend seashell to his ear
& called the sound crab-gossip, & I laughed!

An English lass trips off to Santander
She’s kinda cute, quite buxom, straw-blonde hair
& squeals, “The money’s different!” “It’s real!”
I quip, then trundle into George’s Square
Assembley One awaits me, & a show
Tis Vitamin, I only just oer there
Pick’d up the ticket yesterday, let’s go!

A comic clown arrives upon the stage
His brown eyes shine with continental smirk
That diamond sparkles us to warmly greet
This pleasant chap sweet Scotia has drawn here
Who bids a stranger perch upon his knee
& reads us all a story, as we hear
Into his fun-filled phantasies we delve

Expressive movements & accordians
This is an ancient craft, brindisi born,
Hypnotic stories spliced with hum’rous song
& iced with Catholic memories confess’d
He plays a worm, & with an, “It was me!”
Becomes a jogger cruising Normandy
Ah me! imagination needs fair foils!

Its time to drift down to the Three Sisters
& the Laughing Horse’s festival launch
The free fringe of the former fringe-like Fringe
The latter now a massive moneytrap
Far from the ethos of those fifties folk
Who ilked a good laugh, banter, & a smoke

Middle-fingering the Establishment
They found eight pubs round Reekie’s hamely streets
& forced their comic turns into the mix
With high-brows getting higher at the cheek
But roll on fifty years, these had become
Some chavvy lad from Leytonstone, who’d made
His name & fame & money thro his feet…

…when next to Balmoral this Beckingham
Palace of performance, rudely shuts
Its gates to those who shunn’d London agents
So Laughing Horse would find its own eight pubs
& said, ‘Pay what you like!” & so we did
& soon this new fringe on the old Fringe fringe
Goes swelling ever larger by the day!

I meet up with my old pal, Victor Pope,
Three years on from Infinite Delusions
He’s back to wow the world with his unique
Take on life embedded in his song
While on the stage his ain brother stands tall
Paul Vickers’ Mr Twonkey, what a laugh!
Their mum’s should burst with pride when she heads up!