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Free Comedy - Who's Laughing Now?

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“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.” - Alexander McCall Smith

Foodie moment

Irn Bru is the favourite soft drink of Scotland. It apparently outsells Coke and Pepsi around the country. The taste is very very sweet, Mark liked it ,I wasn't so sure! Walkers 'crisps' are one of the things I look forward to when in the UK. Prawn Cocktail has always been a favourite but during this trip new flavours such as 'Undeniable Pickled Onion with real British Vinegar', 'Famous Worcester sauce' and 'Cheddar Cheese and Bacon with Cheddar from Somerset' definitely catch the eye. Clever marketing!


Cultural moment

Today we found our 'bible' of the Fringe Festival, the Free shows guide. There were hundreds of acts listed for each time slot, and using only the title and a brief promotional blurb (which were often quite vague) we headed on down to one of the hundreds of small venues scattered throughout the town to watch the show. Our first choice was a man doing stand-up about the 'A-Z of Backpacking'. Sounded like it should be great, especially for us, but unfortunately although it had some funny moments (acting out what people are like after lights out in a hostel room - seriously, how many times can someone zip and unzip their bag!!), it was a bit scattered and I actually think I could have done better (especially with all the great material we've gathered on this trip!). The next act we saw was highly recommended, by people who should know, in his blurb as one of the up and comers of the comedy circuit. So popular we had to sit on the stairs, absolute disappointment! It was like he had got these great recommendations and suddenly thought he was too good for it all, so he spent the next 40 minutes rambling on about his life philosophy, his dad dying from cancer and the problems with British society. He just looked like he couldn't care less and it was so incredibly uncomfortable. Needless to say, as we left our donation into his bucket was a good way to get rid of some of the silver (and copper) coins in my wallet! (Unfortunately giving him nothing is hard as the comedians stand with their bucket at the door and its pretty damn obvious if you don't put something in!). Needing some sort of pick me up after that, we headed straight off to another tiny room in a bar to watch Finn Taylor. Thank god this guy was funny! His act was about being single, and trying to find love. The reading of some of the unbelievable but real responses he got whilst Internet dating were hilarious.

That evening we decided to head to another free show at another different pub. It was called World War III and was hosted by a German comedian Christian Schulte-Loh who was great! The other acts were Katerina Urana from Greece, Valdemar Pustelnik from Nederlands, Jody Kamali from USA, Ben Crellin from New Zealand and Ro Campbell from Australia (he basically just made fun of Kiwis for his whole act to annoy the comedian who went before him - but it was funny!). Overall a great night of comedy and had we been staying at the festival longer we would have gone see most of those comedians in their own shows. It was great fun going to see the shows and because you don't pay anything until after the show you don't have to worry about booking into a show that's awful - just donate less. I could imagine spending a week just flitting between comedies, musicals, plays and spoken word performances from the free guide, just donating a few pounds each time and it would be great fun! We had other touristy things to do in Edinburgh, and a tight budget so we were a bit restricted, but still it was great getting a bit of the 'Fringe Experience'.

Wow moment


Edinburgh is split into two parts, the Old and the New town. We were staying in the Old town which sits on the top of the hill and surrounds the Royal Mile (main street) which runs the one Scot mile between the impressive Edinburgh castle and Holyrood Palace. Cobbled streets lead off to small squares surrounded by houses, and important statues and churches are scattered all around. The New town is situated on lower ground and is separated from the old town by the Princes gardens (which was the former location of the Nor Loch). In the Princes gardens towers the Gothic Scott monument, built for Sir Walter Scott, Scottish author. The New town is a shopping hub with every possible store lining the famous Princes Street. Overall the New town is seen as a masterpiece of city planning, and once built became the residences for the wealthy population of Edinburgh, whilst the poor stayed in the Old town which fell into disrepair. Nowadays, both parts have their highlights, and together they make Edinburgh one of the most attractive cities we have come across.


What we learnt today

Today, whilst in the part of town called Grassmarket, we learnt the legend of Maggie Dickson. She was a average women of the early 18th century who became famous for a very strange reason. It all began when her husband left her, so she had to move to a small town and get a job in an Inn. Whilst there she started an affair with the Innkeepers son, and fell pregnant. She tried to conceal the pregnancy so she wouldn't lose her job, but when the baby was born prematurely and died, it was found by authorities she was charged under the contravention of the Concealment of Pregnancy Act and she was taken back to Grass market in Edinburgh for trial and execution. She was allowed one last drink at the 'The Last Drop' pub, and then she was hung and pronounced dead. Legend then tells us that as she was being transported to her burial ground the cart driver heard knocking and banging noises coming from her coffin. When he opened the coffin he found her still alive inside, not knowing what to do he drove her back to Grassmarket to be hung once more. She was once again allowed her last drink, then as the bloodthirsty crowd were calling for her hanging, someone stood up and announced that she had already been 'hung from the neck until pronounced dead' as her sentence had called for, and therefore had adequately completed her sentence. They decided it must have been God's will, and she was let free to live another 40 years. Some believe she seduced the rope maker into making a weaker noose, either way she lived on through her day of execution and is now remembered on through history.


Posted by travellinglise 05:24 Archived in Scotland Tagged edinburgh edinburgh_fringe

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