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That'll Be The Day/Stardust

REPOST: Edinburgh Festival 2004

Rob Densum, 1957-2004Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 13/09/2004

Rob D died on May 31st 2004, following a motorcycle accident while on holiday in Spain.

Do a Google search for Rob on this site, and you'll find his name comes up a couple of dozen times. Which is only to be expected: he wasn't just one of Spank's Pals who got namechecked in my adventures, he also wrote to the letters page regularly, and contributed reviews of Edinburgh and the London Film Festival. I first met him eight or so years ago, around the time that he and Seapea (who I'd known for a few years before that) became an item. Over time, he became an established part of the crew, coming with us to gigs and shows and the odd Edinburgh Festival. (But not so frequently to the LFF, though. Earlier this year, he confessed to me that the last film he'd actually enjoyed was Pi.)

There was a memorial held for Rob in June, where we all got together at his favourite boozer and swapped stories about our memories of him. And it struck me that Rob stories frequently turned out to be Rob and Seapea stories: the ups and downs of their relationship are the stuff of legend. For example, looking back at my writeup of the Anne Nightingale event at the 1999 Edinburgh Festival, I'm struck by what an eventful night it was, and how much stuff I left out of the report to protect both the innocent and the guilty. It was left to Rob himself to quietly hint at some of the incidents I glossed over, notably the drinks that he and Seapea were pouring over each other's heads. (Unluckily for Seapea, she was on shorts, while he was on pints.) But despite all this, there was never any doubt as to how fond they were of each other. Even when The Belated Birthday Girl and I became a couple, we were always aware we were a mere Posh and Becks to their Burton and Taylor.

I'll miss many things about Rob - his sardonic humour, his old-fashioned political decency, but most of all his artistic sense of adventure. He introduced me to a fair bit of unusual theatre and music that I might have missed out on otherwise. Rob was one of the few people who I could talk to about dance music without being regarded with either pity or contempt, and his passion for world music was something else again. (He's still the only one of the Pals to get himself quoted on another website, as a result of his glowing review of Samuel Oyediji. [dead link]) But though he always knew what he liked, he was even more certain of what he didn't like. It seems fitting that the last time I saw Rob, he was propping up the bar at the Barbican during the interval of The Black Rider, gleefully insisting that no power on earth was capable of dragging him back into the theatre for the second half of the show.

Rob D died on May 31st 2004, following a motorcycle accident while on holiday in Spain. He was meant to be coming to the Edinburgh Festival with us this year, and now he isn't. Spank's Edinburgh Diary 2004 is respectfully dedicated to his memory.

  • Saturday August 21st - "I was made for Edinburgh. My mom was a drug dealer and my dad was a drunk" (Scott Capurro)
  • Sunday August 22nd - "All art should be stupid and pointless, like this show" (Stewart Lee)
  • Monday August 23rd - "I've not really been thinking about my life after the show" (Mark Watson)
  • Tuesday August 24th - "Manchester United fan, eh? Typical Londoner" (Karl Spain)
  • Wednesday August 25th - "Titchmarsh is a very clever man, of course. But then, so was Hitler" (Gary Dremmell)
  • Thursday August 26th - "Farts are funny for three reasons: they come out of your arse, they make a funny noise and they smell of shit" (Simon Donald)
  • Friday August 27th - "I like to think of that moment as the theatrical equivalent of the car chase in Bullitt" (Jim Sweeney)
  • Saturday August 28th - "I wouldn't say that film school is a waste of time. You can get a great sex life there" (Christopher Doyle)
  • Postscript 2004 (part 1) - late reviews and final thoughts from Spank's Pals
  • Postscript 2004 (part 2) - and the rest


Napier University - and yes, a lot of these links are going to be the same ones I use each year for Edinburgh, get used to it - anyway, we're once again taking advantage of their splendid Vacation Letting Service, and kipping in two of their self-catering student apartments. If you're curious to see what they look like, this year the site includes a virtual tour of one. Other accommodation options are available via the Scottish Tourist Board.

Great North Eastern Railways and easyJet are sharing the transport duties this year - most of us are getting the train to Edinburgh and flying back. Yes, I know I told Stelios to shove his planes up his arse two years ago, but this year we're not making the mistake of waiting for the last plane of the day. continues to be your one-stop shop for all things Edinburgian and Festivalesque. It's a portal to the four main festival sites (Film, Fringe, Book and International), each of which has full programme details and online booking. It's a repository for the latest news from all festivals. And it brings together a comprehensive collection of reviews from all the main Scottish newspapers.

The Scotsman (not to be confused with The Scotsman) used to be the central repository of all knowledge and wisdom for the Festivals. Unfortunately, the site's a lot less useful than it used to be, as it now requires you to register before you can see anything remotely interesting. (Though you can always cheat by getting a login from here.)

The List is Edinburgh and Glasgow's premier guide to what's on, not just at Festival time, but all year round. Not that you'd know it from their somewhat feeble web presence - it's little more than an advert for the magazine. Their online eating and drinking guide is very useful, though.

iofilm, the Scottish movie webzine, has been covering the Film Festival since 1998 (coincidentally, that's when I started too). It still puts everyone else to shame on that score.

The Assembly Rooms, the Pleasance and the Gilded Balloon have historically been the Big Three venues of the Fringe. Since my last visit in 2002, the Balloon has suffered the minor indignity of being destroyed by fire, but seems to have recovered from that thanks to a large network of satellite venues. But Pod Deco is making a serious bid this year to join them. They've already got into trouble for luring big name comics away from the Big Three by callously paying them more. Meanwhile, for serious theatre, the Traverse is as ever the place to be.

Web 13 [dead link] is still this site's internet cafe of choice when in Edinburgh. Stock up on Tunnock's Caramel Wafers, guys, I'm going to be there a while. (For those of you who've read the subsequent pages of this year's diary, I'm not removing the above link, but I will add ones for Elephant House and th:at [dead link] alongside it.)

Sites from the shows: Coffee And Cigarettes, Curry Tales, The Far Side Of The Moon, Ae Fond Kiss, Jim Sweeney, Mervyn Stutter, Mimirichi, New International Encounter, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, The Purifiers [dead link], Ross Noble, Scott Capurro, Steven Berkoff, Stewart Lee, The Twelve Tasks Of Hercules Terrace, The Tiger Lillies, Viz.

Varadero International and Varadero UK are the home pages of Rob D's biker buddies, a number of whom came along to the memorial in June. It was nice to meet you all: I just wish it could have been in better circumstances.


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