Clarke's Column at Edinburgh Fringe 2008

In this final Fringe edition, stand up Des Clarke sums up his three weeks in the Edinburgh rain.

Feature by Des Clarke | 26 Aug 2008

It is finally over. This Edinburgh festival 2008 has ceased to be. It is a late Fringe. This year’s full monty is a deid parrot, climaxing more abruptly than a bus shelter fumble.

It wasn’t always the way though. At times this festival dragged its heels like Gary Glitter at a Thai airport, and by coincidence most final day performers also uttered the word Phuket on a repeated basis. No matter how much you enjoy it, eventually this festival will do your Ed in.

There were many highlights from the past month. My personal best was having slightly doddering Bullseye legend Jim Bowen introduce me on stage as little Dennis Clarke. I didn’t bother correcting his glaring mistake or even slag his son Lawrence Llewelyn.

Best Fringe cameo performance of 2008 has to go to the sun. It appeared only once at a place called the sky, one of the few air-conditioned venues in the city. Turned out to be one of the hot tickets this year but in my opinion wasn’t up long enough so I just gave it one star. If you know your astronomy that’s really all it equates to anyway.

Most consistent performer is awarded to the rain. Ever present, refusing to even take one day off during the entire run. Uniquely the Scottish rain seems to come at you from a strange sidewards angle. We must live in the only country where you feel like the weather is mugging you.

Joker in the pack goes to our wonderful climate again as Mother Nature sweeps the boards. It dominated proceedings from day one as a strange unseasonal fog descended on Auld Reekie and never seemed to lift. It was like walking through a Cliff Richard video from the 1980s. In fact if the rain had got any heavier Sir Cliff was cocked and ready to start belting out Summer Holiday. At one stage a visitor from Beijing actually pleaded to return home so he could get a bit of fresh air.

That other summer festival in China provided a nice parallel for Fringers like myself and even had the good grace to hold its closing ceremony at the same time. As a comparison the Royal Mile had fireworks while the Bird’s Nest stadium had Boris Johnson flying an Olympic flag. Old BJ was blustering and blowing under his big white sheet so much I took a double take. I thought I was watching a capsized yacht.

But like all good shows the curtain must fall for a final time. The performers have left the stage vowing never to return. Well that is until next week when the drapes ruffle again and you hear a faint voice from the wings utter the immortal line – any chance of an encore? Ah, only 337 days to go...