First Person - with Allan Crow

Allan Crow, Fife Free Press
Allan Crow, Fife Free Press

I’M currently having a stay-cation.

In truth it would probably have been cheaper to grab an Easyjet flight to Ibiza and do my impression of a beached whale as I turned bawheid red in the midday sun, but my destination is Edinburgh.

I am a huge festival fan and have spent every day wandering miles to take in as many shows as possible.

I should be on first names with every train conductor on the Fife Circle route as well as the staff at Brown’s in George Street which has become my base camp – the food is fab, the atmosphere laid back, and around four in the afternoon you can always get a table (consider this my first festival tip!).

The city isn’t so busy as to be off-putting, although there is an art to moving swiftly through the crowds which gather around the buskers and mime artists, just as much a there’s a way of dodging all the teams handing out flyers.

‘Must see’ list

Tip Number 2: Keep moving even when all others stop. Anticipate the gaps and move into ‘em! You can easily do George Street to Bristo Square in 10-15 minutes without doing a good impression of Usain Bolt.

The Fringe brochure runs to some 337 pages of listings, so getting started can be the hardest bit.

Tip number 3: Have a good flick through and note anything that catches your fancy. True you’ll end up with a dog-eared mess of a programme with so many circles and squiggles it’s impossible to read the print, but somewhere in the recesses of your mind an intinerary will start to take shape.

My own ‘must see’ list has grown to ridiculous length, but, so far, I’m ticking off two shows a day in between food and beer; life’s other two essentials!

I’m not sure what sort of theme emerges from a selection that embraces Henry McLeish, Macbeth, Hitler, Jo Caulfield, I, Tommy and David Hasslehoff – any ideas on a postcard are welcome! - but they have, so far, all be hugely entertaining.

Tip number 4: Try something different. Macbeth was in Polish and set in the Middle East in 2008. I now know that the ‘Thane of Fife’ in Polish is ‘Thane Of Fife.’

Most of my time so far has been spent at the big venues – Assembly Rooms, Underbelly and Pleasance – but I’m looking forward to exploring the smaller places where some great shows, many of them free, can be found.

Tip number 5: The best things in life are free. Check out the cabaret shows at The Voodoo Rooms which don’t cost a dime. It’s also another fab venue to use as a base too.

Street performers

Spend a day in the Royal Mile or The Mound where street performers entertain and you’ll not only have fun, but you’ll collect enough leaflets to decoreate your garden shed. Before you do that, have a wee swatch through them - there’s at least one show in there that is worth a punt.

You may not have heard of them, or the venue, but be brave and you might be rewarded with a great show in a hot little room!

Tip number 6: All Fringe venues are roasting and cramped. It’s the law! Take water with you ...

The Fringe, of course, is only one big bit of Edinburgh’s festival scene.

The Book festival at Charlotte Square never fails to charm - even if you aren’t going to a show you are still welcome to drop in, order a coffee, grab a deckchair and read a book.

The Festival Of Politics is also underway with debates, music and theatre, much of it free, and there’s the official Festival which brings world-renowned performers to the city.

Tip number 7: Apply the ‘mix and match’ theory.

And tip number 8: Enjoy!