Harley to the Fringe: Day 3

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Thursday. A rest day. It takes it out of you, piloting a Harley. It’s a big, heavy machine, somewhat agricultural, the antithesis of perhaps more refined Japanese sports bikes. There’s nothing wrong with the Ninja’s of the world, indeed they represent the pinnacle of bike technology, forever pushing forward what’s possible. By their very nature they are clinically engineered machines, allowing pin point precision in terms of handling; light weight, nimble, and very, very fast. Best experienced on a track, but gloriously good fun on the road. Handle with care.

My Harley, a Dyna Wide Glyde, is a V-twin, 1450cc engined, behemoth. There are bigger bikes, such as Triumph’s outrageous 3 litre Rocket, and the famous Honda Goldwing, that monster machine that eats continents for breakfasts. Those titans of two wheels do indeed make my Harley seem a mid-weight, but in terms of character I don’t think anything can beat it. I fire it up in my garage and the floor vibrates, the bars are a blur as the head of the bike shakes itself to the beat of the engine. Astride it I feel like an invincible king of the road.

Unlike a sports bike, such as the achingly gorgeous Triumph 675, the Harley is as aerodynamic as a brick. Less so, if fact. I could fit a windshield, but I don’t like the look of them and I do like the unprotected front; the wind, dust, rain and bugs that would normally be deflected by a plastic bubble are all experienced, full on, in my face. Nature gets in my face.

The no-protection, sit-up position means the apparent wind is whatever speed you are doing; 60, 70, 80, 90mph winds, hour after hour, full on and unremitting. Which is tiring. At the end of a long day in the saddle, your whole body feels like it’s been pumelled by pillows for 6 hours. Forearms ache, shoulders ache, back aches, hips ache. It’s nice when it’s over. After a few days on a road trip, things settle down, but this trip is only four days on the bike, so it’s good to have a day off and wander around the warm, bright, colourful and busy streets of the Edinburgh Fringe.

I have a breakfast of coffee and croissant and amble down to the Scottish National Gallery where there’s an Andy Wharhol exhibition. Although the artwork is very familiar, I’ve never seen any of it for real, so I’m intrigued to experience his work. A pile of wooden “Brillo Pad” boxes. Looks great, but is it art? The strong colours of Marilyn Monroe. Elvis waves a pistol and primary coloured skulls dominate the halls. Floating, helium filled silver “clouds” provide participant art. All very modern. All very hip.

But I really have to question whether Wharhol is a brilliant artist, or brilliant conman. For sure he was talented, of that there can be no doubt, no dispute. And I do like and appreciate the line drawing and more traditional artistic images he produced, but I find it difficult to reconcile a pile of industrial packaging to my ideas of what Art is.

Anyway, I got told off for taking a photograph; I’m not sure Wharhol would have been bothered.

Back to the High Street to enjoy the street entertainment. There’s a great deal of variety; a blues guitarist has set up with guitar, a coke can wrapped around his foot provides percussion. A saxophonist plays mellow Stan Getz numbers, and “volunteers” from the audience help the performing artists. Incredibly I bump into my very good friend Nigel with his two kids; they live just down the road from me, so what are the chances of that?

Sketches are performed, either as standalone pieces or as “trailers” for their main event. One such strikes me as amusing (Covered in Love) and the pretty blonde that presses a flier about it into my hand seduces me into going. It’s a half hour ironic-comedy exploring “speed dating”. I’m not sure it had a great deal to say, but it was very entertaining and the audience gave a good reception.

I met Ewan Spence who is busy producing audio podcasts for The Podcast Network and we pass the time discussing the vagaries of the podcast market, still in early adopter phase.

Early evening and I attend a gig at the Jazz Bar featuring two acts; Chris Townsend (acoustic guitar) and David Sneddon (piano and vocals). All great stuff and Sneddon seemed to have a female entourage next to me in the crowd and very pleasant they all were too.

Later that evening I went to see the musical pod3 is sponsoring, “Chav! It’s a musical Innit”. The auditorium was about 70% full, which was par for the course, and all four performers from Crowded Logic were on form. The music, arranged and produced by Glenn Keiles, was really good, the audience laughed appreciatively at all the right places, the wireless mics provided by pod3av worked flawlessly. The ingenious rotating stage was the fifth member of the troupe, its two sides providing multiple backdrops throughout the show.

After a few drinks with the team afterwards I was ready for bed and went out like the proverbial light, having had a fulfilling, surprising, entertaining and delightful day.