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Michael Coveney: Trainspotting

The train was packed. I fell into conversation with two delightful Croatians who were wondering what to do when they arrived in the Athens  of the north.

I told them where to go, then everyone else within earshot told me where to go. The protest was based on the idea that you go with the flow, not with the guys in the know.

And that's a very good principle, especially on the fringe.

Vanessa Thorpe of  the Observer was having a nap but woke up to tell me that the paper has someone who's never written about the theatre before covering the bulk of the fringe before Susannah Clapp arrives for a few days next week; he's flat-sharing with novelist and comedy reviewer Stephanie Merritt, lucky chap.

Further along in the compartment, Adam Meggido of Showstoppers was finishing off a new play. And then he invited the Croatians along to his Gilded Balloon spot.

En route to my digs in the Mercure Point Hotel opposite the Lyceum, I called by the Assembly Rooms in George Street to register my arrival -- and have lively preliminary chats with Bill Burdett-Coutts, the Assembly boss, comedy agent Hannah Chambers and goatee-bearded George, the technical wizard in the Supper Room.

I'd hardly escaped fromm the place when I bumped smack into Kath Burlinson, walking the streets with a billboard advertising her "sexy, magical journey" in the Caves, The Wolf.

Phew, then at the Traverse I couldn't avoid producer Richard Jordan, the greatIrish actor Niall Buggy and Traverse execuitive Fiona Sturges.

I'm sorry to say that the area around the Usher Hall and the Traverse is still a building site, a total eyesore of diggers and stonemasons hard at it.

But at least Princes Street is now clear, though no sign of the trams yet.

At last I've checked in, gearing up for Decky Does a Bronco in a distant park as the rain clouds gather...I feel as though I've been here a fortnight already. 


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