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Published: October 12th 2019
A good night’s sleep was the benefice of being in a private home. Kay brought a generous continental breakfast of sliced sausage and ham, a warm baguette, a croissant, a choice of cereals, a bowl of fruit, and home-made jams. Blueberries made a novel and refreshing layer on my meat sandwich, and the raspberry jam on the croissant was particularly delicious.
More confident of the bus now, I sat up top and took photos out the window as we wended our way to Princes Street. After yesterday, I know that taking North/South Bridge Street is the simplest method of getting to many destinations, avoiding the twists of streets in the medieval city. Also, although crowded, the sidewalks were wider, and walking with some speed was possible. One Giant Leap for June
was a very different play than I had expected; rather than an exposition for children on fun science facts, it was about a young woman who has to find the courage to go to university and study to be an astronaut. Part of the dialogue did include space facts. The setting was a café, indicated by a table that the “staff” wiped periodically and a mop with which they
Assembly Hall 1859
Foot traffic into the centre of the city - only one of the routes
cleaned periodically. Four other actors revealed various aspects of June: a single mother, the nephew of the owner, the owner, and a fellow in love with the single mother. Gradually they created a credible environment where their individual ambitions were revealed while they worked and goofed around. Although encouraged by the others to make something of herself, whether June would actually stop working with her friends to study full-time continued to be a tense decision right to the end.
With 35 minutes to walk from south in the city to north of Princes Street, I employed my now almost expert skills in going around site-seeing dawdlers and obstructions such as bus stops. Stepping into the street, unafraid of buses, was critical. When I did arrive at the theatre, all the main section was filled, but I got a seat to one side with a perfect view. De Profundis
performed by Simon Callow
was in utter contrast to the rather sweet story of June. Simon Callow began immediately to rant with anger in his reading of a letter from Oscar Wilde
from his cell in Reading Prison
to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas
. The stage was black except for a
wooden arm chair and a shaded light in front of and above Callow. Entirely by memory, Callow lived the letter, catching us up in the mostly tragic but sometimes comic stories of his past. Everything contributed to his anger and frustration that Lord Alfred did not support him when Wilde needed him, even though he had supported his lover when he was ill and during his disastrous hatred for his father. Wilde blamed not only his friend, but also himself, for being pathetically weak and compromising. By the end, I realized the performance was an exploration of love and hatred and friendship that persists in the face of all hardships and betrayals. Ninety minutes passed in a blaze of sustained emotional concentration.
Unexpectedly, it was 2:00. Obviously time for lunch, but I had a hard time deciding on what to eat. A collection of Festival food kiosks on the street did not attract me. (One can get tired of fish and chips, it seems.) I read the menu thoroughly at Jamie Oliver
’s restaurant, but eating there seemed like too much fuss. I looked in at a pub, but I didn’t want to drink at lunch time. Walking to Princes Street,
A golden good fairy
I crossed over to the Festival fair near the National Gallery, but it offered only crafts. The fair was packed with people and for a few minutes I watched a strong man and strong woman work huge flaming batons. The flow of the crowd crossed the Princes Street Gardens, once the Castle’s moat I imagine, and up the Mound, that is, the hill on which the Castle sits. On one of the many criss-crossing streets that once served as medieval markets, was a café that offered take-out. Uninspiring packaged sandwiches cost 5 pounds (1.80 in a grocery store), so I ordered a sausage-filled roll, and on impulse a scone, at the cheaper take-out price. No nutrition, but filling.
No seats of any kind were available in the area. I kept following the crowd up through the tangle of streets and lanes, only to find myself very near St Giles Cathedral. It almost felt like home. I had a sentimental walk inside and looked at the ornately carved Thistle Chapel, which I had missed before. At last satisfied, I sat on the Cathedral’s stone steps with lots of others and from this vantage point watched a man string out at
great length the feat of juggling flaming torches while on a unicycle.
Suddenly it was time to start searching for my next show, which strangely did not have a venue number, I had found the location on Google before I left this morning. I needed to find Fish Market Street; I walked up and down the Festival street twice, until fain poured down quite hard, at which point I decided to go into a store and ask. By the time the staff worked out that what I actually needed was Fish Market Close and described how to get there, the rain had stopped. Indeed, I found the small dark sign near the Cathedral and followed the winding street steeply down until there was a cross-street. Nothing of the Festival was evident on this street. A fellow tried to hand me a hand-bill, and I asked directions. He sent me partway, and then I asked another hand-bill person. At last I saw the sign – no one could find this place on a map! It was called The Mash House, which seemed to be a general name for several pubs with event rooms.
Tudur Owen: Undemanding was
my venture into stand-up comedy. I sat in a front-row centre seat, so he called on me once. He was explaining that he was not great at anything – yet, anyway. He asked me what I was great at, and the only thing that came to mind was “reading”. “That’s pretty boring”, he said (probably a standard line). He asked a fellow in the second row, who said he wasn’t great, “Maybe drinking Guinness”, he added. “I think we will go back to reading,” says Owen. He built smoothly with laughs to some very blue long stories, using so many euphemisms that they became funny jokes in themselves. The performance was enjoyable - perhaps not enough to make me a fan. As he warned a few times towards the end of the act, he collected tips in a bucket as we left - the only show to do so in my limited experience. I did myself a favour and gave him two old pound coins, thinking that at least he would have a bank to exchange them in. I gave him two new ones, as well, not quite the fiver he asked for.
After exiting, hoping to see the
Front seat at the top of the bus
way, I had to come back in and asked Tudur himself for a pointer to South Bridge Street. Now happily familiar with the route, I walked with some leisure to Waverley Station and collected my set of tickets from Liverpool to London. Sainsbury’s had only the shrimp dinner I ate yesterday, so I bought a bottle of cider and got a curry (chicken and lentil) take-away from the food court. All went well on the bus ride, and at the B&B Kay had done my laundry (for 5 pounds). Dinner was pleasantly peppery. Packing went well. Watched an episode of Inspector Lewis and went to sleep.
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