Why I cried this morning as I drove into Edinburgh for the Fringe comedy shows

Lewis Schaffer – Where are these posters?

I drove up from London to Edinburgh overnight last night.

At 4.00am, in a service station 65 miles from Edinburgh, I checked my e-mails.

One was from the American comedian Lewis Schaffer. It said starkly:

“My posters were lost at the Three Sisters venue. Three Sisters lost them. Not the German delivery company.”

I think this means Lewis will have a good Fringe because, without unhappiness, he is never happy. He thrives on adversity.

Another e-mail was from comedian Darren Walsh reminding me that, on Monday, he “will attempt to tweet a pun based on the name of every single comedian (who has a Twitter account) performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year… Twitter only allows 1,000 tweets per day. So, from more than 2,695 shows, I will pick 1,000 comedians and make 1,000 puns. Some will be good, some will be bad and some will be downright terrible.”

He added that this had already been reported by the comedy website Chortle. Presumably he pointed this out because I have always said anyone trying to win the annual Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award for best Fringe publicity stunt who actually has to TELL us about the existence of their publicity stunt has, by definition, failed.

I wish Darren luck but, this year, he is up against stiff competition even to get nominated. More of that, I imagine, in the next three weeks.

But it was neither of those e-mails which made me cry.

I had driven up the motorways of England to ELO’s Time, the Pet Shop Boys’ greatest hits, Ray Manzarek’s version of Carmina Burana and Lily Allen’s album It’s Not Me, It’s You. I have had that Lily Allen album playing on my car stereo up to Edinburgh for each of the last three years. I guess its mix of sex, drugs and swearing is a good preparation for almost four weeks at the Fringe; and, if you are that way inclined, the slightly world-weary cynicism (or is it realism?) of the album does not go amiss either.

What made me cry was this.

I had turned off the car stereo and, as I drove down the hill into Morningside, the Loch Lomond song came into my mind.

O ye’ll tak’ the high road an’ I’ll tak’ the low road
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
For me an’ my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond

I never thought much of the song – often sung as a rousing chant – until someone I vaguely knew died.

I occasionally worked with someone in television. His wife was a high-flyer in business. She died suddenly. So it goes.

She was, I guess, in her early forties. She was Scots.

At her funeral, in a quiet English village church, a sole female singer with the purest voice imaginable sang Loch Lomond slowly, as it was meant to be sung – as a lament.

By yon bonnie banks an’ by yon bonnie braes
Whaur the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Whaur me an’ my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond

As I understand it, the song is about the aftermath of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s failed invasion of England in 1745. About two soldiers. One of whom survives; one of whom is killed. So it goes. The dead soldier sings that, in his coffin, he will reach Scotland before the soldier who survived.

O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
For me an’ my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond

Sung at that funeral perhaps fifteen years ago, with the light streaming in through the church’s windows and that pure, lone voice singing, it was unimaginably sad and this morning, as I drove into Edinburgh, I cried at the memory.

‘Twas there that we parted in yon shady glen
On the steep, steep sides o’ Ben Lomond
Whaur in soft purple hue, the Hieland hills we view
An’ the moon comin’ oot in the gloamin’

By yon bonnie banks an’ by yon bonnie braes
Whaur the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Whaur me an’ my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond

The wee birdies sing an’ the wild flowers spring
An’ in sunshine the waters are sleeping
But the broken heart, it kens nae second spring again
Tho’ the world knows not how we’re grieving

By yon bonnie banks an’ by yon bonnie braes
Whaur the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Whaur me an’ my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond

At the service station at 4.00am this morning, I also read that the writer and occasional wit Gore Vidal had died yesterday. So it goes. One of the pithy sayings attributed to him is:

It is not enough merely to win; others must lose.

It could be the motto of many performers at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Let the comedy begin.

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, Edinburgh, Music, Scotland

One response to “Why I cried this morning as I drove into Edinburgh for the Fringe comedy shows

  1. Reblogged this on Lewis Schaffer and commented:
    Here is my poster that is lost somewhere in the bowels of the Three Sisters. Thank you John for reposting it. Photo by Arwa Wallen, Design by David Hardcastle, Idea by Sajeela Kershi, show name and artistic intervention by Karen O. Sponsored by Peter Goddard, He’s a nice guy.

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