Edinburgh Diary – Thursday 24 August 2017

I’m visiting the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe from Monday 21 – Friday 25 August.

Whilst I’m here I’m making appearances as co-host on Ewan Spence’s Edinburgh Fringe Podcast.  And I’m keeping a diary, just as you’d expect every good blogger to do.

I hate writing the date. It seems so late in the year. Summer is running out of juice. Autumn is on the horizon. Festivals are coming to an end.

EIF and the Edinburgh Fringe concludes on Tuesday next week, the Proms a couple of weeks after that. Sad. Freedom is slowly being extinguished.

Academy of Ancient Music / Edinburgh International Festival

I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew.

I agreed to go to the Academy of Ancient Music’s Thursday concert at the Queen’s Hall before I’d accounted for the distance between the concert venue and Rose Street where the podcast is recorded. The podcast started an hour after the concert started, and it takes 25 minutes to get from one venue to the other.

I heard the first twenty minutes of the concert (which had in itself taken half an hour to walk to) and then I had to head back.

Listen to it on BBC iPlayer. The first work – the Telemann – is amazing.

Oh, and I made it to the podcast with 5 minutes to spare. Nice.

Second Edinburgh Fringe Podcast

I thought this morning about the joy of the podcast process.

I realise that I’m not especially keen on the technicalities (although I do understand them), and I really do despise editing.

That’s why I like recording things in one ‘stab’ – know as ‘as live’ if you’re interested in the jargon. I like sitting down in front of a microphone and sparring with someone. I liked doing it at LBC, and I like doing it here. There’s a running order, of course, but in the space of 60 minutes things just happen. Questions naturally arises. Banter bubbles up without warning. It’s quite an amazing thing.

What interested me this morning was the memory of me doing it quite a lot in the workplace too. Treating the office environment like a platform, joshing, bantering, and cajoling people I came into contact with.

I remember how draining it became.

Being ‘up and perky’ during the working hours was exhausting.

I did it for a hit – I got something back from it. But the more I do it, the more I became aware of my underlying feelings of droopiness. What I was saying out loud didn’t equate with how I felt deep down.

There’s an analogy that might help here. Think of the experience of stepping into a church and suddenly being aware of the fustiness in the air. It’s not a pleasant smell especially, but its one we’re all familiar with. In theory, its a smell we don’t want to have around. You’d think we’d want to do something about the damp and eradicate the smell, but we don’t because we’re OK with it.

Same with the banter thing I did at work. Habitual. Addictive. Inauthentic.

That said, the third podcast was great. I got to meet a professional broadcaster, a playwright, an actress, and a man with a very deep voice. It all went rather well. Loved it.

Brutal Cessation / Milly Thomas

This was the highpoint of my day.

I’m fascinated about the playwriting process, how a writer has to conjur up characters, issues, and dialogue, and then trust other people to bring those elements to life.

It is a remarkable collaboration, and something I think I’d struggle to feel comfortable with.

Brutal Cessation is unrelenting story about a disintegrating relationship. It’s uncompromising, necessary, and inspiring.

It’s also a brilliant thing. I walked away from it with a new resolve, and a copy of the script under my arm.



Edinburgh Diary – Wednesday 23 August 2017

I’m visiting the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe from Monday 21 – Friday 25 August.

Whilst I’m here I’m making appearances as co-host on Ewan Spence’s Edinburgh Fringe Podcast.  And I’m keeping a diary, just as you’d expect every good blogger to do. 

I’m feeling a little frazzled. I get like this sometimes when I’m ‘on the trot’ on a trip. I try and pack in as many things as I possibly can, forgetting that part of the process of coming to things like a Festival is to get into the vibe. I end up getting a little wired.

I imagine that if Edinburgh was all on the flat, then my stamina would be a little better.

Second Edinburgh Fringe Podcast

The addition of a full suite of photographs from the podcasts (taken by Vikki Spence) makes this trip to Edinburgh a special thing.

The show goes in a flash, but the visual record makes for a lovely series of picture postcards. My mantra, the roots of which are far too boring to go into here, is always to never assume you’ll get a chance to do this sort of thing again. Treasure the moment accordingly. The pictures (yesterday‘s and today‘s) help do that.

Listen to the second show (well, really it’s number 19) on the Edinburgh Fringe Podcast page on PodcastCorner.com, It’s a bit of a corker. And for the most part I wasn’t rude to any guests.

Alfred Brendel Lecture / Edinburgh International Festival 

I’m fascinated by Alfred Brendel. I find his promotional pictures fascinating and slightly terrifying in equal measure. Listen to his many recordings and you discover another facet of the man – the exquisite musicianship. It’s something I find he distances himself from – or rather he distances himself from the performances and recordings.

It is as though he the master of modesty, taking it to such a level that I get strangely frustrated with him.

He was fascinating again today in his Edinburgh Festival lecture. The audience was appreciative. His considerable back catalogue spanning 60 years is next on my listening list.

Lord Dismiss Us / Boys of the Empire Productions

I said yesterday that it was the writing I was interested in coming to Edinburgh this year. Twenty-four hours later, I think that needs a bit of fine-tuning. It’s the characters I want get a handle on, and more specifically to get a sense of how characters develop during a story. It’s the one area I find really challenging in my writing, because I’m never entirely sure whether I’m being realistic enough. Seeing lots of other characterisations helps – strangely enough – develop confidence.

Lord Dismiss Us (Boys of the Empire Productions) is a case in point. It was a fast-paced stage adaption by Glenn Chandler of Michael Campbell’s famous 1967 book of the same name, about homosexuality in a public school in the late 60s. The dialogue shimmered with wit and emotion. The characterisation was blistering. When you’re sat in an audience and finding yourself emotionally engaged with the protagonist, then you know you’re onto a winner.

If I can subsequently find a way of distilling the immediacy of a beautifully engaging piece of theatre into prose, then I’ll be happy chap.