The 1960s were my era, but I never took hallucinogenic drugs.
In Edinburgh every August, I don’t have to.
Yesterday someone told me they bumped into the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Edinburgh Fringe. The real one.
Under normal circumstances, I might think this was an attempt to get an unlikely porky posted in my blog.
But these are not normal circumstances. This is the Edinburgh Fringe. Surrealism is all around. And the message came from suave American man-about-comedy David Mills.
“Hey John!” his e-mail started.
“I flyered the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Royal Mile!” it continued.
“As he passed,” David explained, “I said Rowan Williams! and the woman he was with turned and said Yes, it’s really him! and they both stopped for a chat. I asked him what venue he was playing but he just laughed. Some sweaty basement I expect. As we talked, he seemed very interested in the half-naked students doing an excerpt from Richard the III nearby. Then he took my flyer and walked on.”
Half an hour later, I got an e-mail from the anonymous Poster Menace whom I blogged about earlier this week. His e-mail’s subject heading was GIANT PENIS.
“I saw a giant penis being refused entry to the Gilded Balloon venue,” the e-mail read, “because the owner’s show was at a different venue. This is appalling cock discrimination.”
It seems not unreasonable to me… both the barring and the concept that a cock was trying to get into the Gilded Balloon. Edinburgh is awash with pricks going into venues.
Again, lesser mortals might have queried the story, but The Poster Menace had attached a photo.
The receipt of this e-mail and photo was followed by an hour of semi-sanity when I went to see a Flanders & Swann tribute show featuring last year’s Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award nominee Tim FitzHigham.
Half an hour later, as I turned a corner, I bumped into Tim FitzHigham.
“John!” he said.
He may have been mistaking me for someone else.
Last year, I blogged about how he managed to break various parts of his body for his Fringe show.
“The average has slipped this year,” he said sadly. “Only two injuries. Well, I say two. There are a few more. But two main ones.
“I have a slit tendon in my finger – like a ligament. It doesn’t quite straighten any more. Used to be ramrod straight. Now it’s got a kink in the end of it. The other breakage is a fractured toe but that’s the same toe I fractured for last year’s show, so I don’t really count that. It must sound like I’m recycling old material.”
“It does sound to me,” I said, “like you’ve been a bit lazy at damaging yourself this year.”
“But then,” he said, getting enthusiastic, “there’s frostbite for a show I didn’t end up doing. Three toes; both feet.” He paused and thought about it a little. “I suppose that’s less than ideal,” he added.
“They dropped off?” I asked.
“No, I’m still got ‘em,” Tim said , perking up again. “I’ve still got the toes. They’re on my feet where they were. I have to go… My other show… Stop The Pigeon at the Pleasance…”
I thought that was enough eccentricity for one day but then, an hour later, almost inevitably, I got an e-mail from Bob Slayer. It read:
“I seem to have a new ending for my show – a man called Alan with cerebral palsy singing a medley of his favourite tunes. He beautifully soundtracked the finale of the naked lettuce lady show two days ago and he returned for more yesterday. He has the voice of an angel.
“Phil Kay is turning up tomorrow for four days at the Hive. These are his only full shows at this year’s Fringe and they aren’t in the Fringe Programme because he only decided to do them after the deadline.
“In other news I am considering becoming a proper comic.”
That’s Edinburgh in August – performers telling odd stories and throwing in a bit of blatant publicity.
I hope Bob Slayer does not become a proper comic. What a loss that would be.