Comedy – Secret Edinburgh – my view

My secret view revealed

A city guide with tips from over 160 comics

During this Year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Tim Clark and Andrew Mickel of the website Such Small Portions published a book called Secret Edinburgh which was sub-titled A Comedians’ Guide To The City. It had contributions from over 160 comedians.

Well, that is not really true. It had contributions from over 160 comedians and/or people listed in the Comedy section of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Programme.

Which is why I was asked to contribute, although I am not a performer.

One section of Secret Edinburgh was titled Out of Town and contributors basically wrote about their favourite places which are not in the centre of the city.

Comedian Dan Nightingale wrote about a hill to the south/south west of Edinburgh.

My much-used photograph of me standing on Blackford Hill (photograph by ME-U-NF)

My much-used photograph of me standing on Blackford Hill (photograph by my eternally-un-named friend)

He ended his piece with the words: “I don’t actually know the name of the hill but I suppose I don’t need to. I know where it is.”

My contribution followed his. The hill is the one on which I am pictured in the header of this blog.

This is my contribution to Secret Edinburgh:

_______________________________________________________

I can tell Dan Nightingale that his hill is the Blackford Hill, just south of Morningside.

When I was newly 18, I tried to commit suicide with pills. This was a bad idea, because I had always been shit at Chemistry in school.

I was persuaded to go into a mental home in Essex, because I had tried to kill myself. I did. But I only stayed two days and one night because they kept asking me questions when I just wanted to be left alone.

I went back to my distraught parents’ home, but it was no better there. Not their fault. So I ran away from home.

I hitched to Edinburgh which was and still is my favourite city. Ever since I was an embryo, I had gone there once a year with my parents to spend a few days with my father’s aunt, who lived in Morningside.

When I ran away to Edinburgh, I slept one night in a multi-storey car park at the foot of the castle rock. I spent another sleeping in the stairwell of a block of council flats. It was very cold.

In Morningside, I saw my great aunt on the other side of the street. I did not talk to her.

Later, I walked up the Blackford Hill at twilight to see the view: the city spread out before me, the castle rising up in the distance on the left; Arthur’s Seat rising in the distance on the right. The waters of the Forth were twinkling in the background with Fife beyond them; the lights of the twilight city were starting to twinkle in the foreground.

It was totally peaceful and now, every time I go to Edinburgh for the Fringe, at least once I walk up the Blackford Hill to feel that tranquility amidst the Fringe adrenaline.

2 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Edinburgh, Mental health, Mental illness, Suicide

2 responses to “Comedy – Secret Edinburgh – my view

  1. My favourite review of the Festival

    No question.

    Lovely wee piece, John.

  2. anna smith

    It sounds like an interesting book, but I don’t think the the cover art is especially beguiling. I hope all the graphic artists over there have not committed suicide. I’m just a bit grouchy, as someone I knew and cared for killed himself in May. I was shocked, but not surprised to hear about it, as the person had been suffering from a mental illness for years. He was intelligent and very funny too, and fragile.

    The real mystery of Edinburgh is whether John Fleming is wearing shoes or not.

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