Fergie - ra oan-line Fringe tipster

Submitted by edg on Thu, 13 Mar '14 8.00pm

When EdinburghGuide.com started covering the Fringe festival at the beginning of the millennium, John Ritchie introduced a tongue-in-cheek, daily diary about a fictitious Fringe-goer called Fergie.

Fergie approached the Fringe like he would an outing to the race course, offering tips on the best shows and venues in Edinburgh in August.

He opined in broad Scots from the major press launches, poking fun at the more bizarre aspects of the festival, but also sharing a wide-eyed sense of wonderment.

Early in the Fringe, Fergie writes: "I'll bet the the cooncil would like tae plug into the energy that abounds in the wonderful maelstrom that is the Fringe Club bars. It already lights up the city with the hope, enthusiasm and promise within the Alice in Wonderland that is the Festival."

The running joke (and get-out-of-jail card for John) was Fergie was awful fond of his "wee goldies". The whisky theme was very much in keeping with the spirit of the site at the time. EG's reviews rating system for Fringe shows, then, was a dram system which worked inverse to a conventional star system: the worse the show, the more drams it would be given. No drams meant the show was stellar.

Although I can't remember ever seeing John with anything stronger than an orange juice in hand at the festival, we joked that Fergie was John's alter ego.

The character was a star, but with John getting home each night "before ra milkman arrives", it was clearly an effort to write up each night and he didn't reprise it the following year.

Here's Fergie on the Pleasance launch:

'Twenty minutes into the Pleasance press launch, jings, crivvens, help ma boab, rise wid be the wrong word. Fowr cheils wie twa an a half fit bendy toy-willies appeared like a scene frae Tam 'o' Shanter, and put fowk aff their cocktail sausages and canny pies. They called themselves 666 (and they're doin' The Donkey Show) but a better name would be the "slongboys"or "willies 'r' us"'

And Fergie on David Soul of Starsky & Hutch fame:

"Ran inta a real Telly star, that fella frae Starsky an Hutch, David Soul. He introduced me to his family. He seemed like a fine chap. He wis huven a whine o trouble wis his venue. Ra International at ra Dynamic Earth. It a bit of a shame when guid professional fowk cum aw ra wie frae America, an huv a rough time at the Fest. It kinny colours their judgement o ra festival. Which is a pity, when it could aw be so different wie a bit o care.

But weil that's the festival some fowk hae tae mak a profit an ithers dae it fur love.

A couple of consoling goldies, some philosophical thought and Hamewurd. Ah must be getting tired….see ya ra morra…. "

The column is still in our archive: Fergie the Fringe tipster (unless you are a fan of secondhand cigarette smoke, don't touch the sporran).

The funeral for John Ritchie is on Friday 14th March

John Ritchie remembered