Archive for September, 2007

Escape to Edinburgh

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

A week spent in Edinburgh during the festival is a week well spent in my view. Talking of spending though, the costs do add up. The most expensive show we saw was Fuertzebruta at £25 but do three or four shows a day for a week, even at £8 it works out pricey. One of the best shows – quite unexpectedly for me, was ‘Auto Auto’ a wonderful musical creation which ends with the destruction of a car. The NY times says it better than me.

There are about 2000 fringe shows and it can be quite a trial attempting to work out what to see. My friends and I would gather at the end of the day to swap show-goers tales. They were wonderfully adept at finding the best value shows, buying last minute tickets or two for ones and taking in the free shows. I think I’ve found my own level; do about two maybe three shows in the day, walk around the town and enjoy the street theatre, find a nice restaurant and if necessary, take a day out of town as we did, by the seaside. And go to some shows on a whim or because someone knows someone. Our good friend Marilyn Cutts, actress, singer, perfomer and friend recommended Isabel Georges’ cabaret show ‘La French Touche’- lovely singer and terrific on stage with three wonderful musicians. James Sherwood, a comic writer had a show called A slightly premature review of 2007 -which was clever, witty and funny. We went to that because our first-born had sung in the same College choir as James about a decade go and were glad we did.

Edinburgh is a terrific city and every time I go I intend to visit Holyrood where my namesake, Lord Darnley was blown up. He’ no relation as far as I know which is just as well as he was, by all accounts, a bit of a cad. I never quite get round to it because I’m doing other stuff so at least I have a reason to return.

Fear and Lothian north of the border

The route from the house we stayed in to the centre of town went through the Meadows and then up a wide walkway with grass verges by the side of the old Infirmary. At the bottom end there was usually a piano and player who collected her tips in a ceramic top hat. Mid-way were two pre-teen guitarists of precocious ability and at the top were a group of heavy drinking locals. They muttered among themselves and from time to time shouted to others in a ‘hey Jimmuh’ sort of a way. One day, probably more drink than normal had been taken and friends witnessed a showdown with a small group of street performers. The altercation was apparently pretty scaring and the performers (being theatre wussies) were definitely worried by the threats which were topped by ‘get back to England.’ This was the only unpleasant behaviour during a whole week (apart from a waitress who slammed down a bottle on the table when we asked her to replace it with an uncorked version) but when shouted at by the Scots section of our own, local street drinking posse in Oxford it did occur to me that some kind of exchange scheme might be useful.

Incidentally, the title is copyright my husband but I always borrow his jokes.

Normal for Oxford

From time to time ‘filler’ pieces in the press uncover the acronyms that doctors have been know to use on patients’ notes. I once saw a diagnosis of GOK on the notes of patient just admitted to our ward and spent some while trying to fathom out what it might mean before I asked the houseman. He answered in what I can really only describe as a breezy fashion ‘God only knows.’ The other acronym often cited is that of NFN entered by a doctor to define intellectual acuity and stands for Normal For Norfolk. How many of these stories are apocryphal is difficult to tell and if they are true, the greater openness and access to patient notes, will surely have spelt the demise of such in-house whimsy.

Returning after Edinburgh I was thinking about the ‘normal for’ acronym in relation to Oxford. This was occasioned by looking out of my bedroom window to see a neighbour taking a ferret for a walk. It took me a minute of trying to work out what sort of dog she had and then whether it was some sort of steroidal squirrel but eventually realised the creature in a harness at the end of the lead was a ferret. I have no doubt that if any questions were raised, my neighbour would probably suggest that is was a failure of the imagination of others to think such a thing odd. That’s the Oxford way. Or SOB as a psychiatrist friend tells me he sometimes uses in notes. It stands for Standard Oxford Behaviour.