Have you ever heard of the West End Summer Solstice? No, neither had I until last week.
That’s probably because it’s brand new this year. Over Friday and Saturday a variety of events and shows were put on in the West End of Edinburgh to celebrate the summer solstice, the ‘official start of summer’. Only one problem – no one told the weather.
Yes, true to form as the capital’s ‘quirky’, cobble-street-ed West End filled up with craft stalls, buskers, fashion outlets and other such hijinx (from ‘11am ‘til late’, so everyone could be involved) the heavens opened.
The cynic in you may well be questioning the suspicious timing of this event, when the area is suffering from semi-permanent road closures and shops are closing virtually by the week; well it’s partially sponsored by Edinburgh Trams, so perhaps you have a point. True to West End style though, it’s not to appeal to the mass market. If you’ve heard of many people on the line-up then you’re certainly doing better than me (or spend a lot of time listening to BBC 6 Music). In fact, I rather shamefully have to admit that the only two names I recognised were Fred MacAulay and Peppa Pig. (Perhaps I should have pretended not to know of the latter…)
I’d say that had it not been for Inspiring Edinburgh Tweeting about it (they’re @edinburgh_ if you’re interested) then I could well have completely missed the whole thing. Thankfully, however, they ran a competition to give away some tickets.
Shocker. There was a giveaway and I was suddenly involved. Magic how that happens… Anyway, for the mere act of commenting on a Facebook post at the correct time you would win a pair of tickets to the even being talked about. Wonderful. There were four such giveaways, but I went for the headline act – Fred MacAulay.
Having already agreed to have dinner with my dad that evening I gave him the other ticket and the pair of us wandered along to St George’s West to watch an hour of filthy-mouthed, brilliant comedy. Unsurprisingly, given the time of year, Mr MacAulay was clearly using it as a warm up show for the Fringe, testing out some new jokes and referring to his notes every so often; but it was free, so who really minds that? It’s not as if the jokes were all rubbish (although I have a feeling a couple won’t make it into the final show). With almost the right balance of filth, current affairs (i.e. “I pay my taxes, unlike some other comics, Mr Carr”), baiting of members of the audience and ridiculing public transport (and you guessed it – trams) I would say that his Fringe show is coming along nicely.
The ‘festival’ may be a little niche and slightly contrived; however, I had an excellent time and thoroughly enjoyed my first stand-up in far too long, even if at one point I thought I was going to have to explain what tea-bagging was to my dad. Perhaps now the weather can get on board with this whole summer thing, and if it does, I may well go see MacAulay’s finished article at the Stand later in the ‘summer’.