I danced with hitler on the edinburgh fringe

THE suzi feay COLUMN
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Indy Lifestyle Online
YET ANOTHER YEAR goes by when I flout my youthful oath to return to the Edinburgh Fringe. I have only been once, years ago, in an ill-assorted gang of student thesps. I disliked everyone and they disliked me, but I had to have a part because my boyfriend - let's call him Lux - was the club's wizard lighting man. Lux's taste in theatre was rather specific: his sole interest was in explosions, and since he was also the company treasurer, at least half of every production budget went on fireworks and detonators. For three years all I saw of him was a shapely bottom atop a lighting tower.

We had two directors - call them Child A and Child B - the one actively malignant, the other easily led. A twit called Timmy tagged along with his performer girlfriend, having managed to persuade us that he could be Lighting Assistant. His chief function was gofer. Every morning the cry would go up: "Timmy, we've run out of milk." "Timmy, get a paper." "And some fags." His girlfriend had this great trick of sending him to the bar to obtain a mixture of Malibu and pineapple, which tasted like bottled sweet-and-sour sauce and got the plummy-voiced Timmy more attention than was healthy in Edinburgh dives.

Lux and I were in such a dive one day, doing a bit of publicity for the show, a thudding dance remix of a Howard Brenton play. Our technique was to shoulder our way to the bar, slapping backs and shouting "Scuse me", leaving on each jacket a sticker proclaiming "Hitler Dances -Venue 43". Suddenly there came a bellow: "How dare ye! How dare ye!" An empurpled Scot pointed a trembling finger at a sticker. Backing us into a corner, he launched into an unstoppable invective against Hitler. As he rose to his climax - "I hope that bastard never dances again!" - we each grabbed a lapel and shouted: "That's what we're saying!" "Is it?" he asked. "Well in that case " - he gathered us up under his brawny arms - "You must have a wee one wi' me."

"Are you from round here, then?" I inquired, gingerly sipping my wee one. "How dare ye?" he yelled, "I'm from Glasgow." Replacing our glasses on the bar and murmuring "So kind" we fled, reflecting that he he was probably employed by the council to give the festival a touch of hard- edged authenticity.

One morning, unloading posters from the van, which was, as usual, vertiginously parked, we became aware that it was rolling down the slope towards us. Shrieking, we all managed to get out of the way - all save Timmy, who took the full weight on his legs as he stood pinned between it and the Ford Fiesta behind. His screams were frightful as he flailed on the car's bonnet. Looking at him with the strange detachment that descends at moments like this, I thought, and I know the others did too: "Thank God it's only Timmy, and not someone important." Two passers-by raced for a phone; quick- thinking Lux booted in the window of the Fiesta and let off the handbrake, allowing the rest of us to pull the screaming Timmy clear. Just as the police came running , he sat up and said, in a very changed tone: "Oh dear. I, er, tee hee! was only joking."

"I was expecting someone with their legs cut off, not just a man in dusty troosers," said a policeman, disgustedly cancelling the ambulance. Worse was to come. Radioing in the Fiesta's details, he said to his companion, "You're not gonna believe this

Child A went on to become a film scriptwriter, Child B wrote for Coronation St, others became actors or theatre administrators, Lux eschewed explosions for a career in high finance, and I went over to the enemy and became a critic. And Timmy? He went into PR. Serves him right.