Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rebus & the Ta-too

This must be about my fifth or sixth day in Edinburgh by now & I am pleased to report that yesterday it didn't rain once! It's a little like Auckland in that it seems to try & rain at least once a day - not much & often only drizzle, but precipitation all the same. It's also decidedly cool - but I expected as much & have found it pleasant. Thomas' flat is about twenty-five minutes walk from the centre of the city, so I've been doing the return trip once or twice a day in a bid keep some semblance of fitness - at least that's the excuse I give for the big sleep-ins (doesn't make much sense as I write it).

The first day in town was a very domestic day, with a walk in to town to have a look around & get orientated - masses of people around of course for all the festivals & street performers tend to attract large crowds of course. The last few days have been a mixture of wandering around checking out this wonderful city, its architecture, windy cobbled streets & closes, street performers, a bit of stand-up & some Rebus walking tours. I have a new appreciation of just how hard stand-up can be after seeing four acts in one day - only one of them really made me laugh. And that was probably because I'm a geek - it was called "Control Alt Delete" & was pretty much about computers & being a computer nerd. Admittedly, I only learnt to write in one language (C in case anyone is interested) & not the eighteen that the comedian had learnt in his previous life - so can't really claim to be a computer nerd, but I'm still enough of a geek to have found the show funny.I love how Edinburgh Castle can suddenly come in to view when you are wandering around the city - you see it down a skinny alley way, over the top of a building & so on. This photo taken from the top of the National Museum of Scotland.

I then went to see a Kiwi comedian, just to hear the accent really - the title, "Life after Divorce", didn't do much for me; it was nice to hear the accent, but it was a real struggle for the guy. There were only six in the audience, he paced a lot over a small spot (I hate this) & was sweating when he couldn't get much out of us; I think it would have been better titled "How crap life was when I was married", as he talked a lot more about this than post-divorce. The best part of the whole act was a young guy in the audience spoke up in a broad Scottish accent - "is it always this bad?". That was pretty funny, we then got in to a discussion of why it wasn't working & how unfunny it was - very bizarre. Also popped along & saw Raybon Kan (because I had heard of him) - he had a better audience, with a fair smattering of Kiwis, in a small sauna of a room; he was much better, but like the previous guy seemed to like beating up on people. I've had a few days off comedy, but tonight off to one that should be better.

As I was half through the Rebus novel I picked up for three quid in Cornwall, yesterday I went & did a couple of Rebus walking tours (didn't have time to do them last year). As these novels sparked my love of Edinburgh & its history I was pleased to be able to be shown around some of many places described & pick up other snippets of history. I crammed two tours into the same day as it was a beautiful sunny day & I didn't know if this would happen again. After four hours of walking around, I was a little sick of it - but got home to cook a nice steak up & prepare for the tattoo (which really just meant put on as much Icebreaker & other warm clothes I'd bothered to bring up from London).

The Tattoo had sold out many months ago when I started thinking of coming to Edinburgh for the end of August. So I was particularly pleased, stoked in fact, to get a return ticket for the late Saturday night show (this one has fireworks too) in a good seat at the end. I went along thinking that this would be one thing to cross off the list (it's a figurative list) & not go again; I left thinking that I would love to come back & see it again another year - it was fantastic. The rain stayed away, the castle is a wonderful back drop (the light show & animation projected on to the castle ramparts was impressive, I thought) & music & choreography of all the different performers was incredible. The compère did a good job of getting the crowd warmed up (my NZ cheer was rather pathetic compared to all the Americans behind me) & he quaintly pronounced 'tattoo' as 'ta-too' (& on a trivial note, welcomed the guest of honour - General Petraeus of US Central Command). The show started off with ten different Highland bands strutting their stuff (one of the bands was from the Auckland Police) & it was great. The groups from Tonga & then China were obviously quite different, great. The two consecutive Swiss groups were one of the highlights of the night. The first was a band from the Swiss Army (conscription must really help the recruiting for band members) & they were well choreographed, had brass instruments as well & played a pretty cool part of "Hey Jude" that had everyone singing along. The second group for Switzerland was the Top Secret Drum Corps from Basel - a group of about twenty drummers & flag-bearers. Their drumming was like nothing I had seen before - the climax of it (coming after twelve or so had stood in a line beating each others' drums & swapping drumsticks by throwing them at each other, all the while keeping a magnificent beat going) was when the lights dimmed & the drummers some how ended up with flaming drumsticks - the visual side to this part of the performance was quite something to add to the audial experience; I was conscious that my mouth was wide open in wonder for much of their performance. As is so often the case, my words don't really do justice to the whole event. The show closed with all the performers on stage & pretty good fireworks display.

And I've forgotten to put the photos in the text, so here is a bunch from the last few days (yes, I could go & put them in the text, but I can't be bothered).

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