It's war on the handbill-blown streets of Staple-Gun City

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The Independent Online
ONE OF the best ways of capturing the atmosphere of the Edinburgh Festival, I think, is not by describing it but by recording some of the overheard remarks made by friends and strangers. Here are some I've picked up during the last week or so. (I was going to say, during the first week of the festival, but it only started officially yesterday, so this is the first week. And I'm knackered already . . .)

Man being interviewed on radio: 'What I hate most about the festival, as a resident of Edinburgh, is the bagpipers. Every few hundred yards in the centre you meet another piper. It's ghastly.'

Girl: 'He told me he'd take me to the top of Arthur's Seat the easy way. It turns out there is no easy way.'

Actor: 'The show's going very well, though we've not really had any audience yet.'

Item on pub menu: 'Chip roll - only 90p.'

Edinburgh woman in cafe: 'We got the dates of the festival totally wrong this year, and we've booked our three week get-away from the damned thing to start on the day the festival actually ends. Fraser is furious.'

German visitor in cafe: 'Wieviel? Mein Gott.'

Fringe performer: 'I went up to the Fringe Box Office today to hand out leaflets for the show to people in the queue, but there wasn't really a queue - just other people handing out leaflets. I gave out half a dozen leaflets and acquired about 80.'

Girl: 'He told me that Arthur's Seat was named after Arthur Smith and his famous midnight walks, but I'm beginning not to believe what he says.'

Fringe-goer: 'I was so knackered last night that I went to see a show I'd already seen. I thought I might get some sleep in it, but the laughing kept me awake.'

Visitor from South of England: 'We've got quite a nice flat, actually, but I can't get a word out of the landlord. He nods a lot when I talk to him, but he doesn't actually say anything. I think he's either very understanding or a complete alcoholic.'

Woman in shop: 'Did you hear the circus on Calton Hill last night? It was going till 11.30. It kept me awake. I don't think circuses should be allowed at midnight, do you?'

Girl: 'Now he wants to go up Arthur's Seat again. He says it's the only place you can get away from the festival. Well, that's not true, because the last time we went up there I was given at least 10 fringe leaflets on top.'

Radio presenter: 'Now I've got here in the studio Dan O'Brien, who is doing a show at the Pleasance after midnight talking about computers and the Internet. Dan, what kind of people are going to come to a show about computers after midnight?'

Actor: 'If I had come up here by train, I wouldn't be here yet.'

Woman in shop: 'What I couldn't understand was all the shouting. When I was young, you didn't get shouting at circuses.'

My landlord: 'I won't be here at the weekend. Have you fed guinea-pigs before?'

Woman at the Pleasance: 'I don't normally buy the Big Issue, but I heard a vendor shouting out this morning, 'Get the Big Issue] Nothing about the festival in it] Guaranteed]' and I fell for it.'

Man at the Pleasance: 'Isn't that Magnus Magnusson over there?'

Actor: 'Have you noticed how many comedians from Australia there are at the festival these days? I suppose it's revenge for all the British comedians we used to send down to Australia when they were past their sell-by date here . . .'

Man handing out leaflet for a show called The Barracuda Jazz Option: 'No, I'm afraid there's no jazz in it. And there's nothing about barracudas. But it is an option, at least.'

My landlord's wife: 'If the washing machine stops half-way through the operation, you just bang the lid down firmly and it starts again. If it doesn't start again, we will be back on Monday.'

Fringe director: 'I walked home last night at about 2am, and the only other person around apart from me was a man staple-gunning posters for a reggae festival over every other poster. The noise was deafening. When I came back to the theatre after breakfast, every single reggae poster had already been covered by another one. It's war out there . . .'