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Wednesday 9th March 2005

Up to Edinburgh today for a charity gig at the Stand for CHAS (Children's Hospice Association Scotland). A clever misunderstanding/ faux mishearing of the name of the charity’s name allowed me to pretend in my act that I had jumped at the opportunity to support a cause very close to my heart -building a hospice for Chavs. So they could keep up their chavery in a secure environment. Even though, as I understand it, Scotland already has one of these. It’s called Aberdeen. Ha ha I am funny. And when necessary sickeningly willing to do crowd-pleasing material, even when I know in my heart that what I am saying cheapens and degrades us all.
It was bitter-sweet to be back in Edinburgh, which is a city that I love, but which is forever associated with emotional highs and lows. I have been as happy as I have ever been in this malty town, but at other times pretty much at the nadir of my existence. More interestingly I have very rarely been anywhere between those two extremes whilst resident here. It is as if the city is a gigantic kinder egg of the mind, but the surprise enclosed in the metaphorical psychic plastic capsule can be euphorically brilliant like a Marilyn Croco or evil like a demonic hand that reaches out of the egg, grabs you by the neck and drags you, choking, to a demonic netherworld where all happiness is sucked from your body and you are left as nothing more than an empty husk of disappointment. But at least you still get to eat the chocolate (this bit is literal in most of my experiences of Edinburgh)
I actually wish real Kinder eggs allowed you to gamble in this way (but whilst when you get a tiny jigsaw you might be disappointed, the stakes are never this high), perhaps Kinder could bring out a Faustian version of their confection for children willing to risk their immortal soul in return for the chance of getting a really good novelty.
So I wandered around town after my arrival feeling simultaneously pleased to be here and full of dread, as if at any second I would be pounced upon by a gang of people who would be personally critical of me and all I stood for and then steal thousands of pounds off me, before running away, not laughing (a Pavlovian response based on nearly two decades worth of bitter experience).
I had to remind myself that this was not Festival time and that I could relax. Because although I was not being paid for the gig (all these charities are so tight fisted), I at least would not, for once, be losing £7000. So in a sense I was £7000 up on the deal.
As I walked up to wile some time away looking round the shops, I was heading past the venue, when I noticed a business premises I’d never spotted before. In the cellar of one of the buildings some men were working away mending or making violins. Various stringed instruments lay on the shelves or floor behind them. It was oddly beautiful and surreal to see this hive of unusual industry: to chance across something surprising and unexpected in a city that I know so well. It’s nice to know that there is enough violin based work to keep at least two Scottish men gainfully employed. This made me feel happy and comforted.
I’d opened the Edinburgh Kinder egg and this time been rewarded. Let’s hope my next visit isn’t a dark night-time for my soul.

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