Edinburgh Festival 2018 – Day One

Having come to Edinburgh three years ago for the fringe festival and loved the experience we knew we would be back. So we were excited to be returning again this year. That said it turns out that things seem much less exciting at 5am in the morning when you’re woken by the alarm!

While I talk about the “festival” and use that in the title, it is not the Festival that we come to see but the Fringe Festival which is now much larger than the high brow Festival that it originally fringed. The combination of the Festival, Fringe, Book Festival, Tattoo and other sundry events completely engulfs the city bringing thousands of tourists and, I would imaging, sends the locals running for the hills.

The morning didn’t really get off to a great start as Helen dropped her iPhone while navigating us to the hotel smashing the screen in the process. She was, understandably, upset but perhaps not as upset as I got when filing the online claim for a replacement (the phone is insured). This was a mobile phone insurance claim website that wasn’t mobile enabled. I guess that they figure that you’ve broken your phone so you’ll be submitting the claim on a laptop. Anyway, Helen can use the phone over the next few days with a broken screen and should have a replacement shortly.

Before arriving we had made a few firm bookings for things that we knew we wanted to see and thought might get booked up in advance, so the big(er) name comedians for example. However, a lot of the fun of the Fringe is to go and see something that you know nothing about at all.

So, having dropped our bags at the hotel, we made our way straight to the Royal Mile where the leafleters hang out and as you walk down they will thrust out a leaflet advertising their show. After walking through the throng and collecting a fistfull we retired to a coffee shop and made our selections. Now we have added a two handed play and a 50’s crime drama to our itinerary.

This is the fringe in one image – there’s a lot of walking.

Having said that we were here for the Fringe our first booked event was actually at the Book Festival. We sort of stumbled upon this last time and it was too late to go to any of the events then as they were all fully booked. This time we booked for one the day the tickets came out. 

James Runcie is the author of the Granchester novels which Helen has read some of and we have both watched the TV series so thought that this might be an interesting one to attend. Especially as it was titled “Losing my Religion” and his father had been the Archbishop of Canterbury, there might be some juicy revelations (no pun intended) there.

As it turned out by the time he came on-stage the talk had been retitled “Keeping the Faith” and actually was about his struggles with writer’s block during the writing of the latest Grantchester novel. This sounds like a not terribly interesting basis for a talk but Runcie was terrific.

It would have also been great for any aspiring author to have heard as he talked about the relationship between himself and his editor which I found fascinating. He also talked about his agent who “wasn’t here today as ‘Edinburgh is too far’, so here’s a picture of him at the Jaipur Book Festival”!  

After a quick dinner we dashed over to George Square, which had changed for the better over the last three years, for our final event of the day, comedian Andrew Maxwell. It’s interesting to observe the different styles of comedians. Maxwell is of the observational humor school and centering on big news, rather than a joke teller. This means that you have to buy in to the views and thoughts of the person telling the stories. This worked most of the time with Maxwell but not all of it. Still a good laugh though and a great end to the day.