I rarely have any sympathy for the PR brigade. But I did feel a twinge of empathy for Impressive PR’s boss lady Mel Brown. For some reason I had asked her what was the most difficult press release she had ever written. Turns out it is this year’s blurb about Phil Nichol’s show Your Wrong. Her computer, as well as other people’s, keeps autocorrecting Phil’s deliberate error of punctuation. And proof-reading everything with the show title in it has become a full time job. I do hope it turns out to be worth it.
There is a real cross-generational vibe this year. Of course Janey Godley and Ashley Storrie (below) stand astride the world of funny families like the Corleones of Comedy. But who is not going to go to see Mark Nelson in the hope wee Isla might pop up for some News At 3? The Voodoo Rooms will be crammed with young film fans hoping that the quickest way to get to the new Spider-Man is through his funny old dad, Dominic Holland, and the newbie Siblings (as the daughters of Ed Bye and Ruby Wax I am sad they did not call themselves the Bye Bye Sisters) will be enjoying rivalry with their mum, whose show runs for three nights only at the Underbelly. But none goes as far as Trygve Wakenshaw, who is actually appearing onstage with his little baby. “It’s a good thing he is charming because he has a terrible work ethic, constantly wanting to have lunch or a nap, lacks focus, and can’t remember his lines or actions,” says Dad. “I think I’m going to have to do most of the heavy lifting on this show.”
The smallness of the world of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was brought home to me during a conversation with the severely talented Sara Pascoe. I was asking about the viability of a decent vegan diet in Edinburgh in August. She has, she says, spent “a ridiculous amount of money” on her accommodation and has bagged a fabulous place with its own outdoor, hand-built, wood-fired pizza oven. Don’t tell her but she has only gone and rented my step-sister’s house! The summerhouse with the oven is truly a little bit of Italian heaven in Edinburgh. BTW, she definitely mentioned something about inviting everyone around for a non-cheese cheese and tomato pizza.
Talking of vegans, I bumped into Simon Amstell on the Northern Line. I was coming back from interviewing Dave Johns and Simon (below) was coming back from a production meeting about his new film. Which he is directing. And about which he is stressing. I had to tell him that the persuasive power of his last effort – Carnage – actually got Daddy Copstick (aged 88) on to soya milk. He appeared pleased, although he has a giggle that is so high pitched only certain breeds of dog can hear it. I told him about my meeting with Dave. And Ken Loach’s directing advice. “Wait, wait,” he cried and whipped out his phone. “I have to write this down.” “Listen to each other and be honest. And don’t act,” I repeated, as he typed frantically. He gazed at the screen, nodded and saved. “I’ll tell them to do that then.”
And good news for men everywhere from Simon Morley of Puppetry Of The Penis. We had a wonderful dinner (rosé for him, Dirty Martinis for me) where he explained that size matters in penis puppetry, but not in the way you might think. “There is too big,” he told me. “Argentina was the first place I went to when I just went, ‘Woah! No, NO! Too much – you’re just going to frighten the natives with that!’ We’re not looking for a big cock. We’re not looking for big balls. We are looking for perfect balance and a stretch factor.” So now you know.