City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Rose-tinted glasses or not?


By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 29 July 2008

According to the most recent reports (that
I've heard) the Fringe Box Office resumes business today. Possibly. Technology
is a wonderful thing, when it works. When it fails, we all complain, and feel
powerless and frustrated when things don't work as we expect them to. We live
in a binary world where everything is either right or wrong, and if you don't
have the right code, the digital divide will kick you out.

Nostalgia is also a
wonderful thing; slip on a pair of rose-coloured glasses and see the
difference; a Fringe programme which isn't a slim paperback, simply a fold-out
A3 sheet of paper, with all the shows
listed on one side, and a wee black and white map on the other. Most of the tickets
are priced at £1.00 or even less; there are perhaps 50+ (at most) shows listed,
mainly theatre and some (mainly classical) music; there's no stand up comedy,
in fact there's very little comedy, unless you count a couple of Shakespearian
ones; welcome to the 1975 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The lady I was going out
with then and I saw some 13 shows that year, and spent less than £25.00 between us on
tickets. Yes, I know, happy days and of course unrepeatable ones. Tickets then
were mainly bought in person (in Edinburgh, at any rate) from a hard-pressed
but cheerful handful at the Fringe Box office on the High Street - roughly the same location but less
well-equipped premises.

Experience tells me the staff remain cheerful and of
late have certainly been hard-pressed; what's missing is the beautiful
simplicity of being able to go up to a counter, present note of the realm in
exchange for a ticket and come away having made a satisfactory transaction.
There must be not a few who over the last couple of weeks who would have envied
and wished for that simplicity - some of them behind the counter
in the Fringe Shop.