“We’re getting on like a house on fire,” someone said as they watched a house burning in yellow flames.
With my sleep-patterns disturbed, that very unusual thing has happened again: I remember part of my dreams last night.
People were arriving in a big room for the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Someone said they were looking for “more overton.”
I could not understand what this meant.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the by-now-Edinburgh-Fringe-veteran comedian Eric has been having his sleep patterns disturbed by his new baby Erica. This is not a dream. More a welcome nightmare.
“My whole day is taken up looking after the little one,” he told me in an e-mail over a week ago. “I hardly go out, unless it is to the shop to buy food. The only conversation I have is about the little one, who incidentally seems to take having her nappy removed as her cue to let loose; she managed to get it all up my arm and halfway across the kitchen the other day.”
He had a respite last week, though, when he flew solo from Adelaide to Perth for a series of shows at the Perth Festival. Or, as it turned out, one of the Perth festivals.
It is relevant to mention at this point that British comedian Bob Slayer was supposed to be sending ‘reports’ on his progress in Australia to this blog, but has gone AWOL.
These are extracts from Eric’s diary of last week:
Monday 6th February
I arrive in Perth from Adelaide in a 31 degree heat to find an elderly lady being given a good sniffing-over by one of the airport security dogs. Aha! I think, The only drugs you are going to find on her will have been prescribed by her doctor! But this dog is not looking for drugs; it is a ‘fruit dog’ and this old lady looks a likely suspect to be smuggling in a nectarine or a kumquat. I walk quickly past them hoping the dog does not smell the mango flavoured ice cream I spilt in my lap from the in-flight meal.
Walking across the concourse I bump into Ollie Simon, who is just leaving for Sydney having completed her duties as manager of the Axis of Awesome, an Aussie trio of talented musicians/comedians who are performing at the Fringe World Festival Perth (FWFP) – not to be confused with the Perth Festival, which does not start for another four days yet nor the Perth Fringe Festival which, according to the publicity, was initially due to replace the Fringe World Festival Perth (FWFP) in 2012.
Then I bump into Alex Petty (of the Edinburgh Free Festival) and Bob Slayer. Alex also arrived in Perth this afternoon, but from the UK, so he is significantly more jet-lagged than me. Bob looks like a man who has been here since he was deported for stealing bread and is none too happy about it. I later learn from Alex that Bob has been banished from the Fringe World Festival Perth (FWFP) and has had all his shows cancelled. I try to talk to him about it, but all I get out of him are animal noises.
We head off to see Marcel Lucont’s last show at the FWFP but, when we arrive, there seems to be some debate among the security staff as to whether Bob Slayer is allowed in. After a lot of talking into radios and one girl slipping away to make a discrete phone call to the festival director, Bob is finally issued with a ticket.
Tuesday 7th February
Later, I see a show called Polly’s Waffle. I arrive late and have to sit in the front row. Everyone else in the front row is swathed in plastic sheeting. I find out why a few minutes later when we all get covered in food, thrown at us by the very comely Summer Williams.
Marcel Lucont invites me to join him for some supper at an Italian restaurant and I arrive to find Bob Slayer licking a painting on the wall.
Wednesday 8th February
It is my first show today. After the show, I have a drink in the venue’s beer garden and receive a text informing me that Bob Slayer has been refused entry to the Treasury Beer Garden and I am summoned to join him at the Brass Monkey. So I head across town.
On arrival, I find Slayer, his face covered in Emulsion (apparently as a cheap alternative to sunscreen) sitting in the outdoor courtyard rocking backwards and forwards on his chair. He looks up, sees me, slips and jams his hand in between his chair and the railings. He ponces a pint off me and then just sits in silence drinking the beer I have just bought him and rubbing his hand. He is clearly in some discomfort.
Thursday 9th February
I go to Fast Eddie’s for supper with Alex Petty. Walking back across town towards our respective accommodation, we find a single stiletto abandoned on the pavement. A few yards away is a poster advertising Jelly Wrestling.
Friday 10th February
Bob Slayer was last seen tethered to a goat being put in the back of a van, smelling like he has been liberally greased in goose-fat.
I join Alex Petty at the Lucky Shag. I break my own golden rule of foreign travel and have a British beer: a pint of Hobgoblin Ruby – it is not easily found and it is a stonking good ale.
The barmaid has some difficulty pouring it and, after several unsuccessful attempts to stop it bubbling up and overflowing, I ask if there is anything I can do to help. She looks me straight in the eyes and offers to “suck the head off for me.” Then, seeing the look on my face, realises what she has said and we both blush furiously.
Saturday 11th February
As I enter my venue to do my show, the security guard warns me that I have to behave myself tonight or he will throw me out again…
“What do you mean throw me out again?” I ask.
“I had to throw you out last night as you had had too much to drink,” he answers.
“No you didn’t,” I protest. “I didn’t even have a drink here last night!” But it is no good, he is convinced that he ejected me the night before and there appears to be nothing I can do to convince him it wasn’t me.
I wonder: Has Bob Slayer been dressing up as me and causing trouble? Surely not…
I go on to St Georges Terrace, where trapeze artists are suspended high above the city throwing out feathers to mark the opening of the Perth Festival (which, if the posters are anything to go by, translates as the Perth International Arts Festival 10 Feb – 3 March). There are a LOT of feathers – and I mean a LOT of feathers – there are hundreds of people covered in the things and, when the crowd eventually disperses, it looks like a blanket of snow has fallen across the city. I feel that as they have gone to so much effort that it would be inappropriate to point out that today is actually the 11th.