The start of week 2 at Edinburgh? Probably..!

Nick Hennegan’s VERY rough guide to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2022. — Send in a voice message:

‘Winston and David’ (Underbelly Dairy Room, until AUG 29)

Our first ever review! I directed and added extra material to this. I feel a celebratory occasion approaching! Cheers!

Get Your Coats On

“What Nick has done is to add wings to Robert’s racing horse. What they’ve got is a Pegasus and it’s a joy to watch their creation take flight.”

Editorial Rating: 4 (Outstanding)

Their friendship was as unlikely as their climbs were steep. One was the obscure son of Welsh nonconformity. The other was a scion of one of Great Britain’s most prominent aristocratic families. The first trained as a solicitor. The second readied himself for war. By the time they met, each had carved out a place in the unfolding drama of national life. They were each looking forward into a bright future in the public spotlight. At home, their combined talents would bring forth harvest after harvest of reforms in the grand old liberal tradition. Overseas they would make war and they would make peace. Kings, sultans, emperors, and presidents would look to these two titans for counsel and…

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Day… er… Sunday! Edinburgh fringe.

Nick Hennegan’s VERY rough guide to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Three bars and one very friendly 24-year-old!  @edfringe #folowthecow #WinstonAndDavid — Send in a voice message:

Day 4. Or 6?… of the Edinburgh Festival.

Nick Hennegan’s VERY rough guide to the Edinburgh Fringe! — Send in a voice message:

Day 2 – in the pub.

Nick Hennegan’s VERY rough Guide to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2022 — Send in a voice message:

The Fringe Day 2 (part one, pre-pub!)


Nick Hennegan’s VERY rough guide to the Edinburgh Festival 2022. — Send in a voice message:

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. How much does it cost to take a show to the biggest open Arts Festival in the World?

It’s a question I’m often asked. My first Edinburgh Fringe was in 1992. And it cost me nothing. Zero. Zilch! Other than beer and food, of course! And I wasn’t COMPLETELY happy about that!

I feel a bit click-bait about this, but if you know me, you’ll know I’ve never been as commercial as I should be. I’ve also only recently realised that I’m actually very experienced when it comes to the Edinburgh Festival having been there most years since 1992.

So, how much does it cost? The short answer is it can be hugely expensive. This year, 2022, ironically, post-lockdown, perhaps more than most! Accommodation, particularly, has rocketed. But it doesn’t have to be. If you are an artist reading this, the first question you need to ask yourself is – WHY do Edinburgh? We all kinda know the answer. Probably everyone you’ve ever seen in comedy on British TV was ‘discovered’ in Edinburgh. The whole theatre and TV industry decamps to Scotland for the festival in August. But don’t let the idea of fame and fortune be your only motivation. It’s a sobering fact that the average audience in the Fringe is four. Yep, four people. I’ve been to productions where I’m the only person in the audience!

It’s also worth clarifying what the Edinburgh Festival is. It’s actually a number of different festivals. The Fringe was a radical reaction to the very posh International Festival started after the Second World War. Which was a Very Good Thing! But then, 75 years ago this very year, a bunch of Oxbridge type students (I think) decided to ‘ambush’ the Posh Festival and be ‘alternative’. I put these words in quotation marks, because what was then the Fringe has now become the biggest open arts festival in the world.

So, should you go? Maybe. Are you doing Comedy? Look at the Free Fringes. There’s a couple of them. You have to do your own door-keeping and I’m not sure they’re so good for drama, but let me know if you disagree. It’s no frills, pass the hat around afterwards, and you may not make your student accommodation rent (oh, and by the way, in spite of the madness of the Scottish Government changing the rules this year, try and get student accommodation for August. It’ll cost more than a Chelsea flat, but less than the £10.5k I was quoted for a 3 bed flat this August!!)

And, mainly, expect nothing, but have fun!

Bohemian Classics – Peter Harrington’s Bookshop, Mayfair and Chelsea

Another chance to hear Nick Hennegan’s Literary London radio show on Resonance 104.4FM. In November 2015, Nick toured Peter Harrington’s Bookshop, with Pom, the owner, looking for rare books, first editions, and the most expensive book in London! He was in seventh heaven amongst all the books. And he discovered a rare Harry Potter!  — Send in a voice message:

Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley – drowned at 29 years old!

Nick Hennegan (in the pub!) marks the 200th anniversary of the death of one of Britain’s best-loved poets. Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned at the age of 29, a relative, if controversial, unknown. Nick looks at one of his most famous poems. — Send in a voice message:

Five books to transport you to the Italian Riviera this summer.

I’m going to spend this summer producing Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe (Winston and David. First report next week!) But not everyone shares the same masochistic tendencies. Some people actually have holidays! I spotted this article by Hetta Howes, Senior Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern Literature, City, University of London, in The Conversation.

With its sun-drenched olive groves, sparkling waters and vivid bursts of colour, the Italian Riviera has cast its spell on tourists, painters and authors since the 19th century. Lying in the northwestern corner of Italy, the Riviera stretches along the Ligurian sea and has inspired the likes of the painter Monet and the writers Percy Bysshe Shelley and Ernest Hemingway. 

Thanks to the sun-baked climate, crystal waters and beautiful villages hugging its coastline, the Italian Riviera has long been the playground of the rich and famous, where you’re as likely to spot a super yacht as a fishing boat.

For those who dream of the Riviera but don’t have the budget of a Kardashian – or the patience for airport queues – here are five books to transport you there instantly. Or, if you’re lucky enough to go there, these books will really come alive in your surroundings. 

1. Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim (1922)

Illustration of woman sitting on chair in garden.
Vintage Classics

Enchanted April may be turning 100 this year, but it remains a timeless classic. Penned by Elizabeth von Arnim in Portofino, it follows four very different women who are fed up with their lives in dreary, grey London and long for a holiday. After responding to an advertisement in The Times, which appeals to “those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine”, they find themselves sharing a small medieval castle on the shores of the Mediterranean for one life-changing month. 

When Lottie Wilkins, the novel’s most endearing protagonist, opens her balcony doors to find “all the radiance of April in Italy gathered together at her feet” the reader is right there with her, thanks to von Arnim’s evocative, often sensual descriptions of the castle’s Edenic garden. Among its roses, wild thyme, and honey-scented irises these women find friendship and rediscover love in a novel that brims with kindness, affection and hope.

2. Love and War in the AppeninesEric Newby (1971)

Eric Newby wrote his love letter to Italy – and to his wife, Wanda – based on diary entries he kept while on the run from advancing German forces after the Italian Armistice of 1943. Having seen only barbed wire and walls for a year as a prisoner of war, Newby is so enchanted by the landscape of the Ligurian hills – the swifts dipping over the water, the cathedrals of trees – that despite the danger, he can’t resist stripping off and jumping into a hidden lake before napping in the hot sun. Newby’s prose will cast a similar spell on the reader as it follows his shelter and protection by an informal network of local Italians, one of whom will become his wife.

3. Extra Virgin: Amongst the Olive Groves of Liguria, Annie Hawes (2001)

After a little bit too much wine and a moonlit tour of an abandoned cottage in the Ligurian hills, Annie Hawes finds herself in possession of a house, two wells and an olive grove – all for just £2000. Her affectionate and often laugh-out-loud account of this relocation is based on the stories she would tell her friends whenever she was forced to return to London to make more money. Blending memoir with travel and food writing, Hawes brings her experience to life with descriptions of “leathery old men on erratic Vespas” and “rusty tin cans full of improbably healthy geraniums”. There is also an endless stream of mouth-watering antipasti – all made with that essential Ligurian ingredient, olive oil.

4. The Land Where Lemons Grow, Helena Attlee (2014)

A lemon on a book cover

Attlee remembers the first time she made the journey from England to Italy, 35 years before the publication of The Land Where Lemons Grow. Waking up and realising her train had crossed the border, she looked out of the window to see lemons growing on the platform of the station, somewhere along the Italian Riviera. This youthful trip ignites her passion for those “hot, small suns” which warm the palm and charge the landscape. Written years later her journey from Tuscany to Mount Etna, charting their history, will have you looking at your supermarket lemon with disappointment – and booking a flight.

5. Call Me By Your Name, André Aciman (2007)

Made famous by Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 film of the same name, this novel is a special one. When the handsome research assistant Oliver comes to stay with teenage Elio’s family for the summer the attraction between them is instant and inextricable from the heat and languor of their Ligurian surroundings. Aciman claims that the novel was born when he dreamed of an Italian villa overlooking the sea one April morning; much of his novel feels exactly like this – a poignant, sun-soaked and often heartbreaking fever dream from which it is difficult to wake.

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