Oh, I am part of a two-man show
And over the world the two of us go
There's me and Fred, and Fred and me,
And nobody else that I can see.
Comedy mime is what we're at
We do our stuff and pass the hat,
And we have been all over the place
From Burnham-on-Crouch to Cannock Chase
From Marrakesh to Tripoli
Making a living uncomfortably.
But the place where we will never return
The place we'd rather willingly burn
The place whose memory makes us cringe
Is the place they call the Edinburgh Fringe.
Oh, we went to the Fringe in ninety-four
- We'd neither of us been there before
And thought that it was well-nigh time
That we hitched north with our comedy mime.
Well, straight off we got a bit of luck
- A lift with a brand-new pick-up truck -
And there in the back already there were
Five people going to Edinburgh.
Introductions all round were made
And comedy juggling was their trade.
"We were up at the Fringe last year,"
Said a girl, with a very slight hint of a tear,
"And we lost twenty thousand quid."
"More like thirty," said a boy called Sid.
"But we are going up again,
Once more to burst the barrier of pain."
"It's like a drug," their leader said,
Haggardly eyeing me and Fred.
"When you leave the Fringe on the homeward train,
You swear you'll never go back again.
The empty houses, the lack of reviews
The take-away food, the smelly shoes,
The lack of sleep, the quiet despair
- All of this vanishes in the air
And after a fortnight, come September,
The only thing you can remember
Is the occasional fun you had
Not the things that were so bad.
And so we're going again to get
Even further into debt."
They laughed like a group of maniacs
As they sprawled on their dusty bags and sacks.
And Fred gave me a dusty look
Which I could read like an open book
And the book was called "The Road to Hell"
Subtitled, "Why Are We Going As Well?"
Suddenly the truck stopped, at Carlisle,
Where the driver was going to eat for a while,
And the jugglers all got out in the street,
Though not to stretch, and not to eat,
But to paper the town with posters that said
"Juggling Tonight at the Comedy Shed!
Hit of the Fringe In Ninety-Three!
Come Along and You'll Agree!"
"Just a moment, chaps," I said.
"You might call me a dunderhead,
But why on earth put your posters here
When it's in Edinburgh you appear?"
"Because," said the girl, "there's no room up there
Every shop with a window spare,
Every cafe, every bar,
Every house and every car,
Anything at all in Edinburgh
That's large enough and doesn't stir
Will be covered in flyers on every wall
So better Carlisle than nowhere at all."
This tragic ballad goes on for hundreds of lines, and tells how Fred and the narrator are so appalled by the tale of woe, and by the sight of broken-down vans full of theatre props still trying to get to Edinburgh, that Fred and friend turn round before they ever get to Edinburgh and hitch back south again.Reuse content