It seems very strange to be back home from Edinburgh in the middle of the month, but here we are. We thought we were to be driving home on Monday 15th, and it was only on the Saturday night (13th) after my final show that I chanced to look again at the email from Dickins the estate agent which said, quite clearly, that we were to be out by 11am on Sunday 14th. Of course we were. Why on earth would we think we were staying an extra day? (I think this may have been a throwback to a previous year when we had to buy an extra day of accommodation because I had, again absent-mindedly, agreed to play on the final Sunday)
So we set the alarm for 5.30 on Sunday, fetched the car from the Long Walk (of which more shortly), packed and were away by 9am. After dropping the key off at Dickins and choosing the pretty route south, we were home in Chepstow a little after 4pm.
So how was our shortest Edinburgh ever? It was brilliant and, inevitably, I wish I was still there. There is one element that was outstanding - the weather.
It has been hot and sunny every single day, since we arrived on August 1st to when we left on August 14th. This has simply never happened before and will most likely never happen again. Edinburgh was experiencing its hottest and driest summer since records began, and we were delighted to be there taking advantage of it. Apparently the rains have already come, the day after we left.
Another thing that was a delightful change from previous years was my venue being air conditioned. The sales pitch "did I mention: Air Conditioned Venue" was, I'm sure, a contributing factor to the sellout we had on the final night, and the good figures we had throughout.
This year's room, The Billiard Room, which I last played in 2013 with Socks In Space, is a 105 seater, so was hard to fill (in contrast to last year's 60-seater at Patter Hoose, which I sold out a record number of times). But that said, the 644 tickets I sold over 11 shows is an average of 58.5 a night, which would equate to a 100% sellout last year.
Oh yes, I'm not the only person to refer to 2019 as "last year". It's been very common in conversations. 2020 and 2021 have been erased from the mental records for we annual visitors.
This year early nights have been the norm. I didn't get to The Loft Bar once, didn't stay out past midnight, and we found ourselves awake at 6 in the morning pretty regularly. Do you know, it doesn't hurt you. I have no FOMO for the nightlife of Edinburgh that I once dived into, and frankly I no longer have the energy to try and keep up with it. And, now I think of it, I never did any networking worth a damn in all my 20 years of hanging round the Loft Bar, despite the feeling that I probably had done.
Our flat was, once again, surprisingly quiet, despite being on Canonsgate (above the Canons Gait pub in fact), and this year's big revelation was the discovery (courtesy of Dickins) of the shortest Long Walk yet. The Long Walk, you see, is the place I find, outside of the restricted parking zones, to park my car for the month (or, this year, fortnight). In past years, and for some time too, I've been walking a whole 40 minutes or more and parking down in Newington. I've even parked one year in Morningside, which is a good 45 minutes away. This year's Long Walk was less than 20 minutes from Canonsgate.
Oh yeah, like I'm going to tell you where!
So to the show itself. Thanks to a blitz of new material, written in the evening after the first performance, we had a great show. And the reviews to prove it. Two 4 star reviews (from Edfringe Review and Everything Theatre) and a 4 star ranking from Mervyn Stutter's Pick Of The Fringe (who we were invited to appear on, for the first time, but couldn't because of leaving town so soon). Also a 3 star that reads like a 4 (from Entertainment Now), and a rave review from Squirrel Comedy (who don't give stars, but would defo have given us 4).
One reason Eurovision Sock Contest was so satisfying was the amount of new material. One old routine, Postcodes, made it into the show, initially because we'd done it on Britain's Got Talent and we were going to be able to refer to that. When our BGT audition ended up on the cutting room floor, that routine remained because it was getting good laughs. And a minute of travel gags remained too, along with 2019's Brexit Song. The rest was a mix of the Eurovision show written for Zoom in 2021, and new material. The final running order went...
Opening gags (2021)
Sam Ryder / Tik Tok (written Aug 3 2022)
I'm A Sock (2007)
Intro / Cannae Lingus (2021/22)
"I've been to x country" running gags (2022)
Jonni Forrina intro + song (2021)
Travel gags (2010)
Sexiblond intro + song (2021/22)
Deconstructivist Kollectiv intro + song (2021)
Uber Alles routine (Aug 3 2022)
Azherbi-Curious intro + song (2021)
Improv song (new every night)
Westlife routine (Youtube 2017, first live outing)
Graham Norton song (2021)
Ventriloquism (Zoom 2021, first live outing Aug 4 2022)
Deep C Diva intro + song (2022/21)
Brotherhood Of Man intro (2022)
Brexit Song (2019)
Voting - all costumes at once (Aug 3 2022)
The other big difference between this year and others was the 4.30 time slot. Previously we've started at 9.30pm or later. So my ability to flyer before the show was limited. I find myself, in a blog from 2018, complaining that flyering was failing to turn into bums on seats, and quite possibly that might have happened in weeks two and three had we done them (this was the reason I moved, in 2019, from a 100 seater to a 60 seater venue). This week and a bit, though, I found the flyering to be good, and the two hours of on-street work I was able to do turning satisfactorily into audiences that night. Two sellouts and an average of 58 is something many acts here would kill for.
And I used way fewer flyers than usual. In a normal year I order 10,000 flyers and have, many a time, got through the lot. This year I ordered 5000, and only handed out 2500. The remaining 2500 have come home with me for recycling.
I only did two extra-curricular shows: 10 minutes headlining Jimi Longmuir's 3 Out Of 4 Twats, and a 3 minute slot on Chortle's Fast Fringe.
Hev and I made a good holiday of the fortnight, squeezing as much art-going into the two weeks as we'd usually do in a month. Best stuff was at Fruitmarket and Talbot Rice. Small and forgettable shows at Collective on Calton Hill, Printmakers, and Ingleby. Good stuff at National Portrait Gallery, Modern Art, and City Art Gallery. Didn't get to Summerhall (who've had less and less art in recent years anyway, and open too late in the day to be convenient) or to Stills or the galleries on The Mound, but they're there outside of Fringe time if we want them.
We only saw a handful of shows, the best theatre being The Beatles Were A Boyband (which also finished on the 13th). Saw Noddy Holder being interviewed by Tom Seal at Assembly (offered freebies by promoter, which was nice), Jack Docherty monologue, and Kites drama from Ireland. Given that we only saw two shows in the whole month of 2018, I don't feel that bad.
As for gossip, scandals, and other Edinburgh trivia, that's still in development, and it will be curious to watch it carrying on in our absence. We've not done a half-visit to Edinburgh since our days as punters (in, need I add, the previous century!). Since 2001 we've either been in the Edinburgh bubble for a month, or at home ignoring it. To date there's been a lot of mithering about the lack of a Fringe App, praise for the weather, and a bit of talk about Jerry Sadowitz's show at the Pleasance being cancelled. Let us see what storms in teacups come in the next two weeks (while I'm too busy to notice).
Oh yes, and I'm already planning our month-long return next year. You know, like I did at this time in 2019.
Aug 3 - 13 - Gilded Balloon Billiard Room 4.30pm
The Scottish Falsetto Socks' Edinburgh audits past: