Ian and Julian had a cunning plan. I had been supposed to go to the flamenco show on Saturday with Alex but he hadn't got round to buying the tickets so J&I decided it would be better for me to see the show about Ian Dury, 'Hit Me!' They were right. Whilst Ian waved Julian off at Edinburgh Waverley I climbed the long twisty stairs to the top of the Teviot to wait for the show, being given a £10 of Waitrose voucher which has already paid for the show.
Hit Me! was fab. What can I say? It was a two man show based on Dury and his friend/helper, a big man with a criminal record and a strong sense of right and wrong who seems to have kept Dury from being a bigger dick than necessary. Dury's somewhat self-destructive life, his huge ego and his similarly huge talent were powerfully portrayed. The songs were, as always, wonderful. The staging consisted simply of a pivoting unit; one side a scummy bedsit, the other a more upscale living room which appeared as the show progressed and Dury moved up in the world. Obviously, the size of the unit and the feel of the action remained cramped apart from when Dury escaped out of it to stand, singing like a man possessed, in front of projected Blockhead images. I'm not sure the final scene worked for me. Recently dead, Dury, in white top hat and tails, dances onto stage with graceful ease for a final song. I guess the religious would see this as a happy release from a damaged body and a redemption of sorts. To me it was an upbeat ending that was unnecessary. Dury's flawed life and towering achievements are sufficient.
Ian met me out of the show and confirmed that he'd put poor broken Julian on the train home and we would get updates as the journey progressed. I was sad to see Julian go. He's the easiest companion imaginable, mainly by, as he claims, just not caring. He goes along with just about anything as long as he is allowed an occasional visit to a bookshop and he amuses us very much. From now on we will just have to make do without him until Novacon.
We went to our final restaurant, the Nile Valley on Chapel Street, a Sudanese cafe which, as always, provided us with delicious food very quickly which let us make it to the next venue early enough to catch the act before the one we were aiming for. Fine. This was our foray into the FreeFringe and was well worth the visit.
We managed to squeeze, last comers, into the tiny hot room at the Counting House. Lewis Schaffer, a New York jewish comedian living in London, is 'Free Until Famous'. I enjoyed this show very much, especially as I was sitting next to the fan. Lewis spent the hour commenting on how rubbish we in the UK are which strangely endeared him to us. Ian commented he reminded him of Greg Proops. I liked him more than that.
We adjourned to the bar whist the next act set up and tuned her guitar then trooped back in for another miserably hot hour with Lara A King. She had been recommended by Fascinating Aida on Friday night. She'd been their warm up act for their last tour and they spoke well of her. It was a strange hour; a combination of stand-up and serious songs. Most of the comedy left me cold; as someone who only turns the TV on for Doctor Who and the new Sherlock Holmes, comments about daytime TV and current advertising campaigns, no matter how apposite, meant nothing to me. The songs, on the other hand, were worth going for on their own. I'd have liked back to back songs really. Never mind. I took one of the free-but-a-donation-would-be-appreciated CDs when we left but it doesn't have her last song. She finished with Summer with Monica, one of my favourite Roger McGough poems set to music. As a sing along. I'd turn up for that anytime. If she put the whole book to music I'd be even happier. Many years ago at Freshers week at Sheffield Poly, Roger McGough read from Summer with Monica at the Psalter Lane campus, the one SHU have just demolished. I'm feeling old as they remake Sheffield around me but Summer with Monica is still lovely.