2017's a big year for the Edinburgh Festival: it's the 70th birthday of both the International Festival and the Festival Fringe. (Also of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, but none of us really give a toss about that any more.) Hard to imagine that for 71 summers now, the whole of the city of Edinburgh has become a temporary home for artists and performers from all over the world.
It's even harder to imagine that by the end of this month, I'll have been there for 21 of those 71 summers. If I'd been paying attention, I'd have made more of a fuss of my 20th last year. But I didn't, so here we are now.
What trends should we be looking out for this year? Well, to be honest, I haven't a clue. Looking back at last year's intro, I confessed to feeling surprisingly unprepared for what was coming, and the same thing seems to have happened this year: a few predictable bookings locked down for early in the week, and a much better plan for the Book Festival than I had in 2016, but apart from that I suspect there's going to be a lot of playing it by ear.
Luckily, as ever, I'm accompanied by a support group of Spank's Pals who'll be joining me in various combinations throughout the next week. We've got return appearances from Alan, The Belated Birthday Girl, Charmian, Diane, Eve, Lesley, Nick, Pam and SeaPea: and our first-timers for this year are Kate and Martin. We'll be reporting day by day on the stuff we've seen - well, I will at least, some of the others may wait till it's all over and give a more considered response then.
I've done this twenty times before, I should have got the hang of it by now. Watch this space.
- Friday August 18th - "Had the pleasure of meeting Bruce Forsyth at a charity do once. He was surprisingly down to earth, and very funny." (Limmy)
- Saturday August 19th - "Carpe diem, which I always thought was the Latin for 'fish of the day'." (Roger McGough)
- Sunday August 20th - "My nan always used to say you should never go shopping for food while you're hungry, and she's dead now." (Gary Delaney)
- Monday August 21st - "I've got three daughters: 14, 12 and 9. Unusual names." (Simon Munnery)
- Tuesday August 22nd - "Walk-outs are weakness leaving the venue." (Andrew O'Neill)
- Wednesday August 23rd -"I was born already in trouble." (Inua Ellams)
- Thursday August 24th -"Who doesn't love roast potatoes? Isis, probably." (George Egg)
- Friday August 25th -"You might remember me from a diminishing number of TV shows." (Phill Jupitus)
- Spank's Pals' Postscript - some final thoughts from the usual crew, and some bonus multimedia from me