Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Silhouette of Edinburgh skyline

It’s going to be weird not being in Edinburgh for the Festival this year. And not having our house overrun with friends and lodgers for four weeks. I’m sure Jane is secretly relieved, as in previous years I’d say things like:

Oh yeah, I meant to say, we have seven people sleeping over tomorrow night.

For three weeks.

There is a buzz in Edinburgh during August; there is life and energy and creativity. My fondest memories of Edinburgh during the Festival are in the company of Danny Wallace and his Joinees, many of whom have now become firm friends. Sitting in the Pear Tree House garden, of an evening, laughing and marvelling at the tricks of Magic Eric. Or the truly surreal experience of attending a lecture on Creationism at Carrubbers on the High Street in the company of comedian Dave Gorman.

And how could I ever forget my experience last year with Steve Lawson and Cath staying for the duration of Steve’s solo bass show? The loveliest, and noisiest, midnight mice we’ve ever had. But who are now two friends that I love very dearly indeed.

So this year, we’ll have to make purposeful forages into the city to absorb some of that buzz, and fun and excitement. Here are two not-to-miss shows.

Julie McKee/Steve Lawson – The New Standard

Steve Lawson and Julie McKee

Sunday 6 – Saturday 12 August (not 7th), 23:00 at The Lot. Book tickets.

A musical match made in heaven, divine jazz-influenced vocalist McKee and acclaimed solo bassist Lawson give a fresh spin to the pop canon, from Sondheim to Soundgarden. Unmissable. www.thenewstandard.co.uk

I’ve heard some of the demos that Steve recorded while rehearsing with Julie for this, and this promises to be a fantastic gig. You can check out a few of the tracks on their MySpace site at www.thenewstandard.co.uk.

Kockov’s Free Mind Show


Saturday 12 – Friday 18 August, 12 noon, at the Laughing Horse @ Jekyll & Hyde. Book tickets.

Mullet-haired Monrokvian magician, ‘Kockov’, is ‘a deranged Derren brown-style’ mentalist. His comical show displays amazing mental powers. Real magic, real powers, real funny. Unmissable – free entry. Adult only.

This is a show by my National Youth Choir of GB friend Jasper Blakeley, one of the funniest human beings I know on the face of this planet. And for all that I know, the face of any planet.

Edinburgh Food Festival


Check out the first Edinburgh Food Festival being organised by another exNYC friend of mine, Andy Williamson.

It’s time that good food was up there with jazz, comedy, film, literature and all the other fine arts that we call culture and CELEBRATED with its own festival. What better place to do it than in Edinburgh, the festival capital of the world, and what better time than August, when the city is full to bursting with hedonists and culture lovers from all over the world? We’re not limiting ourselves to two senses, however! As well as the fabulous tastes and appetising smells from freshly cooked delicious food, we’ve got great live music, a daily market, a resident poet to stimulate your brain cells and we’re organising conversations and demonstrations that you can just drop into.

Those are the shows that I’ll be catching. What about you?

Please pray for Andy

Andy Williamson leaning over a bannister at Darley Dale School, Derbyshire
Andy Williamson leaning over a bannister at Darley Dale School, Derbyshire, December 1988.

Yesterday I got an email from my good friend Steve alerting me to the blog post of another friend from National Youth Choir days, Andy Williamson, where he revealed that he had suddenly discovered that he has Polycystic Kidney Disease.

This is the same condition that I have, although Andy’s is in a much more serious state of advance than my incarnation of the disease. Andy’s blood test showed

a Creatinine level of 916 (normal is 80-122), and Urea of 36.1 ([normal is] 2.5-7.5)

Over the last few years my Creatinine levels have hovered between 100 and 122, and Urea between 5.9 and 6.6, which, while at the higher end of normal, shows that my kidneys are still in a fairly healthy state. And, as I’ve stated on this blog previously, if I manage to lose some weight that can only be a good thing for my overall health too. Andy’s readings, as you can see, were astronomically high.

I met Andy at my first NYC course at Darley Dale School in Derbyshire in December 1988. It was the same December as the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster over Lockerbie; there was a member of NYC on that flight, Helga Mosey. Although I didn’t know her, I too cried, alongside with my new friends.

Anyway, that event coloured much of that course, and in some strange way actually might have helped people grow closer together, and have helped new members to be accepted quicker than they might otherwise have been; I don’t know. But what I do remember is how kind so many long-established members of the choir were to this, new, 17 year old Bass 2. And one of those was Andy.

Andy lived in Darlington (I think) in those days, and so chummed me back on the GNER train north from our concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

We met up again last August during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as Andy was playing saxophone at about a million different gigs, including with the Big Buzzard big band in the famous Spiegeltent in George Square.

Anyway, please do pray for Andy. He began kidney dialysis today.