Ed Fringe ‘21 – Day Two. Sunday. Hello old friends. Eddie Izzard, slut-drops and Brass Monkeys.

Having arrived in Edinburgh last night, checked into the hotel and gone straight to the Pleasance Courtyard to see Mervyn Stutter (see previous post) today it was time to wander back to my old Assembly Festival haunts. And although there is activity after the barren last festival season, it feels strangely ghostly and denuded.

Take the Assembly Club Bar. It’s been in different locations over the years, but it’s the hub of the Assembly Festival and democratically exclusive It would be rockin’ till 4am for the whole of the Fringe. And once or twice, I would be there to see the end of the night..! It was where you would bump into other Assembly artists and often members of the media. Memories of my last Assembly festival include Eddy Izzard’s new frock and the comedy act West End Producer in his mask and costume for one whole sweltering night. He kept in character even when one of the beautiful, slightly merry members of my cast started ‘slut-dropping’ in front of him. And because my birthday is in August, I remember the enigmatic, interesting and pleasant Paul, editor of the Fringe Review, presenting me with an Edinburgh University notebook and pen and telling me to write a piece for next year. I did write a new script, but, of course, next year never came…

And so the once glittering, illuminated entrance to the Assembly bar is what it always was and as I had never seen it – a pedestrian, dowdy entrance to a university building. And the Assembly studios, gone. And the Blue Room where we sold out our last production, doesn’t exist at all. It was a venue built only for the Fringe.

The Brass Monkey, Edinburgh. Due to appear in the Best Boho Pub Guide soon!

But not everything has changed. The Brass Monkey Pub, most of the designer Coffee shops and The Assembly Gardens are still here. The Gardens has its outdoor venue and food concessions, although drinks are ordered to the table now – at least until tomorrow, when Covid rules ease in Scotland. But you can still pay £8.50 for Pie, Mash and Sauce in a cardboard box. No idea what the sauce is. But it’s rather tasty. And, oh yes and it still rains. Yes… we’ll always have the rain…

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