The Edinburgh Fringe is actually not so much a test for comedians and the like, but rather of one’s ability to drink at any given hour, and adopt the position ‘When in Rome’..
The first night had my Scottish lady host and I craning our necks to see Harmonium at Usher Hall. “Do you think the choir is singing live?” I asked J. A gentleman beside me passed a wine glass to his friend in front of my nose: “Why don’t you stop asking questions and just enjoy it!” he commented.
The next afternoon, I followed J into the monkey bar. “You’ll love it here” she told me, “They show movies a few times a week in the afternoon and I think it’s the cheapest Prosecco in town – £12 for a bottle, if I remember correctly.”
I struggled to keep up, I really did. When a fellow patron standing in front turned around to ask J what the best cure for hiccups was and she instantly belted him on the back, I sensed the demon drink was taking effect and suggested we leave.
Squeezing through the throng of revellers with the decibels of noise that brings, we were stopped by hiccuper and friend. Robert proceeded to throw his arms around J while Bob filled us in on their respective working lives.
“He’s an accountant in grass” Bob told us. I giggled. “No! Not that kind of grass!” he said.
“Oh. And you, Bob? What do you do?”
“I’m a nothing” he replied.
“A nothing?” I queried, astonished that someone could call themselves such a thing.
“NO! ARE YOUR EARS PAINTED ON?!” he shouted at me. “A NURSE.”
The following night, after a bit of stand up comedy, my cousin and I stopped at another small and intimate hostelry. Music flowed out through the doors. We parked ourselves by a large double bass resting at the entrance and thought about what we might drink.
“A glass of Guinness I think” I said. A man at the bar swivelled around to look me in the eye: “WHAT? You’re in Scotland! Have a single malt for goodness sake!” he cried.
“Um, okay, but with a cube of ice” I said mindful of my ineptitude around spirits.
“Oh no! You can NEVER do that – it ruins the taste! He’ll give you a wee jug with water and then you add a drop, taste it and see if you like it. It opens up the flavour.”
Moments later a glass of Highland Park appeared before me, but nothing on the side. “Excuse me but where’s the wee jug of water?” I said to the bartender.
“Ya see” said my new friend Alan with a wink, “Spoken like a true Scot.”
He watched me add water to the wine. With cocktails to come later and the locals’ chutzpah, I realised I’d better pace myself and get with the programme.