In which I embrace the 'Burgh


I embarked on my first visit to the Edinburgh festival with a few simple goals: 1. Acquire and consume a deep-fried Mars bar. 2. Don’t accidentally join a comedy improv troupe. 3. Don’t look like a giant tourist. 4. Establish exactly which bits of the festival, if any, are the proper festival and not the Fringe. Because it seemed to be all Fringe and no… rest of hair.

The first of these was accomplished quickly, and easily. Saw a chip shop, went in, handed over two and a half of our finest British pounds and wolfed it, burning my tongue a bit on some melted nougat.

What was it like? Obviously, incredible. I’m disappointed you had to ask. As far as I can deduce, the only thing that could possibly be wrong with a deep-fried Mars bar would be if it tasted of fish. If it was imbued with a haddock essence and doused in a delicate vinegar jus, I might have had problems finishing it (might).

But fish-free as it was, tell me what there is NOT to like about melted chocolate and caramel, squidging out the sides of a crisp batter sheath? I salute the Scots, for looking at a normal Mars bar and thinking, “nahhh…. too cold, too solid and too healthy. Let’s fry it!” That’s the kind of envelope-pushing innovation we all need to be inspired by.

Point two was harder, in a way, because I really wanted to join a comedy improve troupe. But it was easier, in another way, because nobody asked me to.

This is probably for the best, as another thing I discovered during my first fringe was that improvisation makes me incredibly nervous. I worry for them. I worry that they won’t be funny, or that they won’t think of anything to say, or that what comes out will be shonky and a lot less hilarious than if they’d simply scripted it. I sit there feeling like their mum, and each time one of them improvises something good I breathe a sigh of relief for them. It’s a stressful experience, and one that I can’t believe would be eased if it were me on the stage instead, frantically trying to decide what Miley Cyrus would be likely to say at a funfair with Pol Pot.

The third goal died a death before it had even really been set. This was largely Rose’s fault, as she decided to wear a tartan scarf on the train. Then mine, as I decided to buy and lavishly photograph a Tunnock’s caramel bar (“They just taste DIFFERENT up here.”) Then both of ours, as we decided to buy I HEART EDINBURGH bags, eat baked potatoes with haggis and prance about whistling Scotland the Brave. Och well.

Point four, in case you were wondering, was never fully resolved but settled largely with the following rules: if it’s ballet or opera or marching soldiers and we can’t afford it, it is in the Edinburgh Festival proper. Otherwise, it’s all Fringe. Which may not work as a hair concept, but makes for a pretty great weekend.