I am back in Edinburgh, after my trip to Wigtownshire, where my dead parents grew up as children – which is a lovely place, but no phone signal or sensible WiFi.
Here in Edinburgh, even the double decker buses advertise that they have on-board WiFi systems.
They trundle along streets now bereft of drugged, drunken and neurotic performers, as the Edinburgh Fringe circus has left town and its tents, walls, placards and egos have been or are being dismantled.
The 5-star review strips stuck on show posters are now coming unstuck in the wind, like skin rotting off a peeling corpse.
Look, the Fringe is a long three or four weeks and my ability to cobble together a decent simile ran out long ago.
Now the real world is beginning to re-assert itself in Edinburgh.
Or perhaps what I really mean to say is that the real surreal world is beginning to re-assert itself in Edinburgh.
A white-bearded man was standing in Princes Street today with a large sign in five languages saying SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE IS SIN.
He was getting more laughter from passing strangers than many £7,000 Fringe shows got in four weeks at the Fringe. But he did not seem to care.
The only Fringe comedy game left in town seems to be Bob Slayer, who is still staging four shows per day in Bob’s Bookshop until the end of the month.
I presume this is because he has paid for the venue until then – or perhaps because he has access to a ready supply of cheap drink until then.
Meanwhile, my eternally un-named friend back in London is trying to persuade me to kidnap or buy any Scottish hedgehogs I may find.
My garden, she claims, has become a floral Himalaya of dandelions and ant hills… plus there is her rather unsettling ongoing genocidal obsession with slugs.
She tells me that, if I can kidnap or buy some hedgehogs, they will kill the slugs, although she seems to be vague about whether or not they impale them on their spikes first.
And there is some confusing story I do not fully understand about ladybirds feeding on the aphids which destroy my plants while the ants kill ladybirds to protect the aphids because they keep them on the plants to milk like cows.
My eternally un-named friend claims she has found a source of commercially-available ladybirds, but is unable to find a readily-available source of retailed hedgehogs.
I have tried to distract her by talking of the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons allegedly by the Syrian government in their ongoing civil war, but she tells me that the Middle East’s problems are really due to the disproportionate rights which men have in the region.
When faced with the double-fronted assault on my psyche of female liberation and buying hedgehogs to keep down the slug population, I fear I have been outmaneuvered and think I will have to find a ready source of hedgehogs which can be transported by car back to South East England. If anyone has any ideas for sources, let me know.
My eternally un-named friend – in an admirably-researched yet doomed attempt to enthuse me – says there is a source of African pygmy hedgehogs in Warrington, near Manchester, which I could pop into on my long drive home.
These pygmy hedgehogs are available from a site unsettlingly called Preloved: The Joy of Second Hand. They cost from £129.99 upwards and are said to be: “small and prickly and the very latest must-have pets. Would-be owners are happily willing to wait up to a year and will travel any distance to get their hands on an African pygmy hedgehog. These cute pets are a quarter of the size of a normal hedgehog and are fully domesticated and don’t carry diseases or fleas. They love being handled and rarely curl up in a defensive ball.”
My eternally un-named friend is quite insistent on my getting at least one hedgehog and her penultimate text message, perhaps sensing my lack of enthusiasm, says:
“I shall e-mail Bob Slayer and ask him where to find hedgehogs. He is from the West Country and must know about these things. If there are a lot of them, perhaps you could get four, keep two and give the other two to Martin & Vivienne Soan as presents.
Personally, I do not think this is a good idea.
Martin Soan is a performer best known for his naked balloon dance.
Nudity, balloons and hedgehogs can often result in tears and anti-tetanus injections.
Perhaps more relevant to the real world, though, is my eternally un-named friend’s last text message.
“My grandfather was gassed in Africa in the First World War,” it said.
‘Really?” I texted back. “I had thought it was only used on the Western Front although, now I think of it, we gassed Iraqis from planes in World War One.”
So it goes.
Only a few more days of post-Edinburgh Fringe surrealism and it will be back to BBC News reports and the real surreal world.