My Edinburgh experience started early on Friday morning. I finished doing my regular stint with Jacqui Smith on Good Morning Britain at 7am and was then driven to Kings Cross station to get the 8.30 train to Edinburgh. I normally fly, but thought this time I’d let the train take the strain. I had booked passenger assistance to help me get on the train. Given I am still on crutches, there’s no way I could have dragged my suitcase through the station. Unfortunately, they didn’t show up, but luckily Alison from my promoters, Seabright Productions, was there and did the necessary. I’m not sure what I would have done without her.
The train journey took four hours and 40 minutes and all went very smoothly. I thought I’d try to grab some sleep, having got up at 5.10am but I just couldn’t doze off. Maggie from Seabright and my assistant for the week, Sam Marks (son of LBC’s Simon, who is studying in Edinburgh) met me off the train and we headed to my hotel, which is a big upgrade on the student accommodation I endured in 2019, when I was last at the Fringe. However, at about 8pm the hotel fire alarm went off. I assumed it would go off almost immediately but it didn’t. We all had to troop out onto the street, and four fire engines arrived. However, after about 20 minutes they left again so we could return to our rooms. Why do things like this always happen to me?
On Saturday I met Sam at the hotel and we went to do some leafletting on Princes Street to advertise the 15 shows I am doing. Let me tell you, leafletting on crutches isn’t easy! The reaction was incredible. Several people came up to me to tell me they had already booked tickets, and a lot of people recognised me from Good Morning Britain or the Jeremy Vine Show. There were many LBC listeners too. We then had a bite to eat before going to see my friend Sarah Southern perform in her one woman show, SCANDALOUS. If you’re at the Fringe do go and see her. She’s on the free fringe in the gloriously named Voodoo Rooms!
And then it was time to head off to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre for the first show, with Rory Stewart. It had sold so many tickets we had to move it to the biggest theatre in the Conference Centre. In the end, there were well over 600 people in the audience. I wasn’t sure whether it was a good idea to walk on stage in crutches, but anything to attract the sympathy vote! In a flash our hour was over, and it was clear the show had been a big hit with the audience, who we chatted with in the foyer afterwards. One down, 14 to go!
I then met my comedian friends Konstantin Kisin, Francis Foster and Andrew Doyle for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. To be honest I have only ever eaten Japanese food once before at a Wagamamas, and wasn’t hugely enamoured. I was assured it wasn’t a Sushi restaurant, so that was something, at least. In the end it wasn’t too bad, even though I thought the food was actually rather bland. It needed more salt and seasoning. I always think any Asian food is bound to be spicy. Maybe spiciness is not big in Japan!
I got up quite late today and headed straight to the venue to do an interview with the Times about politics on the Fringe. On the way I was sent a link to an article in The Guardian about the Rory Stewart show. What is it with journalists who get free tickets to a show get great content, and then omit to mention the title of the show? Makes me scream.
It was then time for the second show with Ruth Davidson, one of my favourite people. It was in a smaller venue, but it was still a sellout with 300 people there. When I did the Fringe in 2019 the capacity was only 150.
Ticket sales have been really good so far and it turns out that already went into profit last Friday. I don’t do this for the money, but it’s very pleasing to know that we’re doing so well.
After the show, Ruth and I talked to many of the audience in the foyer and they really seemed to really enjoy it. I always love mixing with the audience afterwards. You get such great feedback, and also some good ideas for the future.
As I write this I’m about to watch West Ham v Manchester Cty in a pub near my hotel. Then it’s off to dinner with an old friend.
If you’re in Edinburgh this week, do come and see a show! You can book tickets.