You Worthless Creators – the shame of money and art

Once Oliver Stone created Gordon Gekko and had him declare “Greed is good”, the audience took a look at themselves in the Odeon toilet mirror and said, “now I realise that my money lust is wrong. Oliver, you have made me a better human. I will aim for comfort, but no longer covet luxury and holiday houses made of mink and tusk”.
And the disparity between rich and poor shriveled and the theme tune to Different Strokes played throughout the land.

Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way. There never seems to have been a time where to place a price on everything was considered more right and proper. If you’re not looking to fuck over someone in a deal, you must be asleep on your watch or some half-witted throwback, the end of your family line.

Sadly, I am not made of stern enough stuff to crush. I am a namby pamster who is a little embarrassed about money. I’d rather not bring it up. If someone asks me how much I will cost for something, I wince. “How much have you got…you know…what sort of budget…for someone who does something like I do…I don’t want to be greedy…I mean, I’d rather not lose money doing the event…”.


The arts is filled with such fools.

There is an embarrassment in bringing up cash, the fact we are allowed to create at all without being imprisoned or tortured should be our reward.

Many will have found themselves at events where everyone working in the room is being paid for their time and expertise, apart from the artist. They are being paid by those generous enough to look at them and enjoy them and have moments of their lives made happier by them.

While others work and sweat and become oily or tired, the artist is just scattering their mind about. The arts are a vocation and you must consider yourself lucky to have been born or shaped into a position where you can daub, scribble or spout.

Other professions suffer this too. Look at the lucky nurses who have chosen to care, not like the poor hedge fund managers who suffer such agonising indigestion from long fizzy lunches that they must be paid top dollar, these lucky things are born to wipe and help and save, they deserve less than the lunched.

Though I know quite a few comedians who find payment a troubling, but necessary, matter, the entertainments industry (the industry? that professional dicking about should have usurped smelting plants and coal mining to have become an industry) is often less coy. A very funny and award winning young comedian told me how an agent had once told him that his act was not “financially viable”. A friend of mine went to visit a prospective agent, when asked what sort of career he’d like, he said he quite liked the sort I had. The agent spluttered as if in a Punch cartoon. My career, though it has brought me truly fulfilling moments and a chance to work with my heroes and create some ridiculous and pointless events that have, at the very least, delighted me, is not a proper career. I am neither fabulously wealthy nor famous. He later went on to show off that, when doing a deal that involved one of his clients, he had screwed me out of money repeatedly.

We are in the age of the content provider. Your canvases are not art, they are wall covers. Your songs are silence concealers. Your jokes are emptiness mufflers.

I am fortunate to have a comfortable life working on projects I enjoy. I am still learning and hope to maintain that until a few seconds after my heart gives out. I still grit my teeth and clench my fists when I turn down silly money to do things I know I shouldn’t. I was recently offered a corporate for some stockbrokers. The money would have covered the cost of the corner of artspace which I share with some illustrators and where I keep my messy desks for two years. I am fortunate to be in a position where I can do this, though each time I do that, I see my future self shoeless, hungry and alone.

I still find it hard to put a worth on what I do. I am happy to tell people, “this is the most I have got paid for doing this sort of thing, and this is the least”, and then hoping they will be fair. I am sure some may gleefully underpay, but I can always say no.

Josie Long and I have decided to start podcasting again. This is why I was pondering money. Until quite recently, we didn’t like the idea of charging for such things, but we have come to the conclusion that, hopefully, enough people have enjoyed what we do, and will, that we can ask for some money from those that can afford it, to spend our time and use our creativity to make something that is good, or at least good for those that like this sort of thing. I am hoping we are not too conceited to imagine this. Are we worth any of the spare cash that may be spent on craft beers, pub gigs, apps or pinball machines?

We will find out.

Are we grotesque now?

Will we find out that our lives and minds are worth nothing?

Could we ever be financially viable?

Let’s find out.

If you would like to support our new endeavor, you can donate as little as you wish, but if your hedge fund is heaving, why not use us as a tax write off?

Pledge here if you can. We want to make something good.

also ten tickets left for next week’s show with Alan Moore at the NN Cafe

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Smarter than the Rest

I am attempting to write 60 short stories between September and December (a little project to fill the time now I no longer tour).  I am going to keep most of them to myself for the time being.  This is briefer than most and just a first draft with all the errors imaginable.

Smarter than the Rest

“He’s only two, but he has a reading age of six or seven”

He had heard it all before, the proud mother who must believe her progeny is superior stock to the snot nosed kids that she sees toddling clumsily in the streets. He would now show her all the books that are really meant to be for seven year olds, and she would work out some excuse why they were not for her boy.

“He’s not really very keen on stories about dragons. I think he probably finds them silly”

All the tales of talking bears and mendacious ducks would be knocked back too.

“I am not entirely sure I want him to get embroiled in anthropomorphism, but maybe we’ll keep one in the basket for now”.

The stories of naughty boys and girls and their frequently gassy adventures are brushed aside.

“I don’t think we want him reading about those sort of children”.

And so it would go on, until she had worked out away of buying a selection of books that were suitable for a two year old but with the belief of her child’s superiority intact.
She was one of many.

Every parent believes their child is not quite as the others. Some of them were relentlessly superior, their stuck up noses as sharp as a pencil caricature. They were the most fun. In their fog of boorishness, they were oblivious to his sarcasm and facetiousness. He could fob off the direst tracts to them buy fabricating a story of how some Nobel prize winning physicist or Booker winner had been reared on this book. He had sold books on the pretext of them famously being part of Einstein’s childhood library. The fact they had not been first published until 1947 or 1963 or whatever didn’t seem to hinder the customer’s gullibility. They were the people that could be sold anything because they believed they knew everything, a situation they had comfortably reached by knowing nothing. They had probably been victims of their own parents desire to destroy their child’s interest in reading by insisting they read Nausea at seven.

She was not as bad as many of them. She usually came on a Wednesday. Many customers did as the boss was out then. The boss would push any old tat. It was “all about the bottom line”.

As he had got to know her, he knew she liked to browse for a while before being disturbed.
He would let her start the conversation. On the first few visits he had been too sharp in his approach. She would drift through the picture books, into the classics, and onto teenage fiction. The visits became longer. It was now nearly an hour before she approached him and asked what sort of people liked a book of a silly verse or an intricate pop up book of planets, asteroids and rocket ships.

She wasn’t a young mother, probably approaching middle age. She’d left having children until she’d satisfied herself with a career he imagined.

She looked tired today.

“Are these books about dinosaur astronauts popular?”
They were alright, but if he was honest with her, and he would be, he thought they were books written by committee. The pictures were charmless and flat, the stories were perfunctory.

“So you wouldn’t recommend them?”

“I think we have better books. I mean, they’re fun, but we have some that are a bit more fun, or at least I think so. They’re just over here.”

He led her to a revolving stand that was heavy with every imaginable talking dinosaur angle and a few mad monsters besides.

“Am I right in remembering your son is three, but he has a reading age of seven or so?”

“I think I may have been taxing him a little bit too much”.

This was a rarity. Most of the customers would rather change shop than admit their child may not quite be what they had thought.

She leafed through the books he proffered. She was distracted.

“Shall I just put together some of my favourites and you could look at them in the reading corner”.

She was staring blindly at a dinosaur in a stetson with a laser gun.

The shop door opened and the electronic chime broke the silence.

“Sorry, I missed what you said”

“I wondered if I should just put together a pile of books in the reading corner and you can go through them in your own time?”

“Thank you, yes”.

She sat on the solid plastic pink chair in the shape of a once popular TV pig.

He chose carefully. Remembering the ones that he had offered her in the past.
She only mentioned one child, but presumed there might have been more, or maybe a stepchild. When she first came in, she bought little novels and Lewis Carroll and Wind in the Willows, but she never bothered with anything like that anymore.

He topped up the pile.

“You do remember that he is a little bit more advanced than the others? he’s more like a six year old than a three year old. You should hear the things he says”.

It was peculiar to him how many parents never brought their children in to choose the books they might like, maybe that would destroy the illusion they could have when they came in insisting their child was Max Planck.

She leafed through the stack, but she was barely looking at them. In the past, she scrutinised the text and pictures.

“Could I look at something for younger children? I am thinking of books for party bags, I don’t want to tax the other children”.

He picked up some pop ups and a series of stories about a clumsy lion and a his Machiavellian mouse friend.
It was getting close to 530.

“We’ll be closing soon, but I don’t mind staying open for a little longer if you need a little more time”

She snapped from her distracted stated into a look of sharp horror.

“Christ, what time is it?”

She gathered up some of the pop ups and one clumsy lion book.

“I’ll pay with card. If these are a bit too babyish, can I bring them back”

They were a little more childish than her last visit, but he hoped that she was beginning to realise that it was better to learn to love reading than to brutishly shape your child’s reading into a thing of achievement over joy.

“That will be fine. Just keep the receipt, but I’ll remember you anyway. That’s £27.94”.

He bagged them as the card machine took its time over dealing with the transaction.
She looked sharp and impatient again. Over the months, she could soften, but then that other mother appeared, that mother that knows every day at the nursery gates there will be another competition. Who will be the first to play Bach?

He was sitting on his bed when she got home. He looked tired and a little grumpy.

“Look what I’ve got you. New books. Lions!”

She put the pop up in front of him, but he was in a mood with her. She opened the pop up with a flourish and the snake leapt at him.

He burst into tears. It was too late for all this.
Silly of her really.

The tears tumbled down into his beard. She should shave him again. She’d taken an eye off these things. She hugged him tightly. He was still so big, so when he flopped, she almost fell off the bed.

“It’s okay, it’s okay. Silly me. It’s okay”

They had just started to talk about having children when she started to notice him change, and then he noticed too. The little forgetfulnesses grew and the reversing began.
Having taken so long to grow up, the growing down and away was so fast now.

She looked at the shelf of books in his room and realised it was time to donate them to someone else.

He looked at the lion and smiled at her through the tears.

“silly mouse”.

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The Boy Who Killed With Toys

I am writing a couple of thousand words a day at the moment. My aim is to write 60 short stories by the end of the year. Here is the beginning of one. I am just tinkering about. I’ll take it down again in a few hours. I hope that by the time I have written 60, 15 won’t be bad. I am hoping that writing with the word count of a 1940s pulp magazine writer, I’ll eventually stumble on the story I am looking for. Most of the ones I have written in last few weeks fit broadly in the horror genre, not sure where this one is going yet.


He should never have been looking for his toy, but it was new and he was excited.
A blue water pistol.
He must have been fiddling with it in the car on the way to the farm and it got caught up in the rug or dropped under the seat. Now they were on the way home, he wanted to look at it again.

While he was searching for it under the seat, something happened.
The car stopped sharply, from 30 to 0 in a second, but he wouldn’t have known the numbers.
It was confusing.
Why did it stop?

His sister was crying and holding her head. She was his big sister to him. Seven is so big when you’re three.
Nearly three.
His mother was behind the wheel.
Still, utterly still.
He had never seen her so still.
He’d seen her sleeping, but never this still.

“Why’s mummy’s eyes closed?”

His sister didn’t stop crying. There was blood in her hair. There was no blood on his mum. He didn’t know why she had stopped everything, but he did know it was his fault.
He shouldn’t have gone under the seat. It was the passenger seat. No one in there.
But it had done something.
He had been fiddling around, and the fiddling had caused this.

His sister was told off for fiddle faddling around all the time, and now he knew why.

When he was older, he might realise how much time went by as he sat confused in the crying and the silence.
He didn’t cry.
He didn’t know.
He couldn’t see into the dark.
He couldn’t see the van that seconds before had been over the speed limit and unaware of the curves in the road. It was still now too.
For the time being, all that had happened was some kind of nothing that he had brought upon everyone by looking for that gun.
He wasn’t looking anymore.
It was probably in reach now, but he didn’t want to move, because he didn’t know what movement would do. He didn’t want to cause anything else, he had done enough.

There was a woman now. He thought she might be quite round, tied up in a big beige coat.
He didn’t know if she’d come out of the fields or from along the road. Maybe she was from the van or car behind.
Did she know what he had done?
She had a big roll of toilet paper ready to mop the mess in his sister’s head.
It was all becoming jumbled now.
Had she come to the car twice and gone back for the toilet paper, or did she come running with it in hand?
So much going on, people looking at him, did they know he was guilty?
He wondered if he was concealing it all or giving it away.
No one seemed angry with him.
He was waiting to be told off, but everyone was busy with his sister, with him, while his mother was left alone. Did anyone know she was still silently there?

(And then something more happens)

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I Blame Aslan – do humans really care more about lions than other people?

Soon the outraged were out raged by those who were outraged at the outraged for choosing the wrong outrage to be outraged about, and that then led to a new outrage that seemed even ragier, and everyone knew that those people were wrong, and all those other people knew they were right.

There was this lion and this dentist, maybe you’ve heard the story already.

Animal stories capture the heart.

Big game hunters beaming proudly next to something beautiful and dead that they have killed with guns and paid assistance stir a nausea in the belly of many.

After the highly publicised death of Cecil, injured by bow and arrow paid for by fillings, caps and whitening treatment, then eventually killed by guns some time later, social media and front pages were busy with condemnation and occasional jokes about Narnia and Wittgenstein.

The dentist was soon in a safe hole, though maybe we could lure him out with some meat on a string, I think that worked on his safari. This meant that within 24 hours, we hear that the real victim here is not the lion, but the dentist. Then, a few people overreact, and animal rights campaigners find themselves having to publicly declare that they are not calling for the assassination of Walter.

Perhaps he will never be seen again, but rumours soon emerge that Morrissey’s trophy room has the dentist’s head mounted above his mantelpiece, just by the wax effigy of Rita Tushingham.

While all this goes on, others feel a little put out that there is so much outpouring for some mammals, while when one of our own species is killed there seems to be less bother or if refugees are painted with the broad brush of innate criminals come to take your daughter, fewer tweeters seem to give a jot.

I am not sure that people are jot-less.

The Cecil story is a simple one, it has no layers, you are either for killing lions for fun or against it. It is safe outrage. It is unlikely that it will be revealed that the lion was wanted for war crimes in Rwanda or has been actively involved involved in making snuff movies or developing eugenicist experiments.

“I am against killing lions for fun, this story is clearly in my remit for being cross”.

Once stories are all about adult humans and the things that may or may not go on in their mind, things get messy. I think people are fearful of offering an opinion or being infuriated in case someone snaps at them, declaring that they clearly don’t know the whole story. The fear of embarrassment gets in the way.
Doubt fogs the judgement.
The cocksure march in and declare you are a liberal or a leftist or a nazi or a duplicitous soothsayer. Whether it is Israel and Palestine, immigration, human rights or someone who told a joke that backfired, there are so many people in spring heels ready to pounce for pleasure and profit, so many ready to tell you you are wrong without explaining why, that you remain perplexed, unenlightened and pointlessly admonished.

I think it is the simplicity of the lion story that has led to it being sprayed across so much of the internet, this does not mean that all humanity has more compassion for a cat than a human.

Well I hope it doesn’t.

Footnotes (of a sort)

All that typed, there still are some people who prefer other animals to human ones. Less apish mammals can have innocence projected onto them. Their lack of a comprehensible language means each lion or leopard or elephant can be a Rorschach test that you project yourself upon.

Also, our empathetic minds mean we can believe we know more of what goes on in other humans’ brains. We can project venality and criminality onto them. We are also in a time where we are lured to believe that people have “made their own bed”, if you are in a precarious or deathly situation, you have probably contributed to it in some way. That bomb that fell in your house, that dictator that murdered your family, that policeman that shot without warning, maybe you brought that on yourself somehow. It’s an unhealthily, sometimes poisonous chain of thought that can be imagined to be a healthy sort of scepticism.

Two more episodes of Monkey Cage on the way and extended versions HERE

I am in a state of semi retirement, though I am doing some Christmas shows with Josie Long & Bridget Christie and some with Brian Cox and secret science guests, as well as appearances in Edinburgh, Folkestone and Stowmarket. Details of all such things HERE

And new Dead Funny anthology too.

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The Time Has Come to Sit in the Stalls – Latitude and Impostor Syndrome made Flesh

According to this post, my first words at the late show at Latitude were “Fuck. Look at you. Fucking Hell”. I was surprised, that didn’t sound like my normal opening, even when doing the Pointless Anger shows with Michael Legge (he is in charge of swearing output, I handle the overly niche references). I was quite taken aback to read it (it was tweeted to me, I don’t go searching my name on the internet). It felt odd to have so little memory of being so brutish. Initially, I was in denial, desperately seeking some neuronal activity that would jog the memory into the front of my head.

“Work for me for you fucking calcium ions, ah fuck, there I go again. maybe I have a condition”.

Slowly, it has fallen into place. To the bemusement of the audience, I started the show with Michael Legge in the guise of an aggressive Daphne and Celeste act, singing ferocious, disemboweled version of “Ooh Stick You…” and “U.G.L.Y.”, then straight into compering with Josie Long, with my caterwauling Daphne guise still simmering. Overall, I think I am surprisingly unsweary by the standards of the current circuit, but now a corner of the web will know me as Robin “Fuck. Look at You. Fucking hell” Ince. I thought the Shy tory opening was tongue in cheek, clearly I delivered it with too much authenticity, such a pity the Royal Shakespeare Company never call.

Since I have “officially” stopped stand up, I have had a benefit and a few outings in various guises at Latitude and something feels a little awry. I don’t feel creative or engaged on stage. I should have drawn the line a little thicker and made the Stop sign bolder. Only have a few little gigs left, a trip to Edinburgh, some benefits, the John Peel Center (how could I say no) and a festival in Folkestone, but nothing more for this year and next. My impostor syndrome is energetic, because for now, I am one. The manic show off departed after the gig at The Bloomsbury, and he should sleep now.

As for the rest of Latitude, it was excellent. It has been some time since I have had the opportunity to wander the site so freely with the time to see so much. Despite the cliches that may be trotted out on some stages by me and others, it is a pretty remarkable feat. There is so much bloody art and so much bloody good art.

I was lucky enough to host an event with three of Yonderland – it is a superbly stupid creation – “this is not a good day to be made of jelly” (a slight misquote of dialogue from a blue jelly)

The Chris Goode Company’s Stand was a passionate piece of documentary theatre performed with superb authenticity by actors including Michael Fenton Stevens, Cathy Tyson and Spencer Brown.

Dolores Haze are a noise, punk to post punk jolt from a band who look like a drawing of Riot Grrrls by Edward Gorey.

The Districts were good independent-ish americana guitar music of a type that will see them on the main stage soon I would imagine (a good album too, but not a favourite of 2015).

Timber Timbre sounded at times like Link Wray performing PiL’s Order of Death and sometimes like the mighty Morphine interpreting My Charona, magnificent. A performance persuasive enough to make me purchase an album on Monday morning, and probably one on Tuesday afternoon.

Fight Like Apes – just the sort of aggressive hooks and powerful vocal delivery that a hastily and effectively assembled faux Dingle chapel by a lake in Suffolk needs.

King Creosote – first time I have seen them live, so sprightly you’d barely believe their collective age was 300 years, and double denim on a hot friday, brave.

Public Service Broadcasting – a band that create beautiful soundscapes around samples about space missions, did Brian Cox make this band in a particle collider especially for me (they are currently on UK tour, you should go)

Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells – surely you own these albums by now. Even better than the recordings. A Frankenstein monster of jazz and tales of misanthropic casual sex with hints of despair that does not wish to kills its creators on a frozen wasteland.

Drenge – I realise that all Sabbathy Nirvana-ish rock makes me smile beatifically, and a mosh pit too (I didn’t go near there, I am 46 and my glasses may have been crushed) – One sodden lad left creased and mumbling, “I wasn’t expecting that”. (also nice to see such a noisy band having a cup of tea between songs)

Savages – perhaps the live performance of the festival, terrifyingly mesmeric, and one looks a little like a Victorian ghost nanny or a young Mrs Danvers (in a good way).

Ibeyi – somehow missed all the hoo-ha about them earlier this year – hoo-ha deserved

Portishead – more than I hoped for, all the adjectives you imagine you need for something so beautiful and enigmatic, think them now.

So now I know that I am a spectator, the place for me is watching the event, not trying to create one.

I take one trip to Edinburgh for this. A new Monkey Cage series is currently being aired with Brian Cox and me, and a series of podcasts with Alan Moore, Grace Petrie and me arrives soon. For the time being, there is our grumpy and stupid music podcast Vitriola (also on iTunes).

Also, if going to Edinburgh Fringe, may I recommend Michael Legge, Joanna Neary and Gavin Webster.

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Stand Up Sabbatical – “And Now I Must Mumble to Myself and Gesticulate Wildly Alone”

Will I have to resort to drilling holes in my skull now that my stand up days are over (for now). Live comedy is a non-invasive form of trepanning.
It is a chance to release the angry spirits within you with a lower risk of septicemia, unless your angry spirits stir the audience to throw broken bottles at your head.
I wrote a post a while a go about why I was stopping stand up, I have not returned to it as most of it is probably gobbledegook and the sort of blether that surfaces when you are touring alone ten thousand miles from home.

Last night was the “official” final show, though as I underlined, it is a final show for now. Over the next six months, my diary has as many gigs in it as I usually have down for a week. I have not gone off stand up, quite the opposite. It is because I value it a great deal that I don’t want to let myself down by becoming tired, nonchalant or blasé about it. I mentioned Rik Mayall at the end of my gig, after all, it was witnessing his magical brutality and wide-eyed stupidity that led to me attempting to show off for a living. Every time you saw him, it looked like total bloody commitment, no half measures, no dead eyed, counting the money in his head demeanor on his face. The older I have become, the more I appreciate the necessity of total commitment. My penultimate gig was shoddy. My brain was dozy and I do not function well on autopilot. I left the stage feeling I had cheated both myself and the audience. These occasions have grown fewer over the years, but it never stops smarting when they happen. “what a bloody disgrace”.

I think my insomnia became an overbearing thug in my existence precisely because the fear of letting the audience down and therefore myself became more and more important. The cackling homunculus hiding behind a lobe would whisper until dawn, “there’s not half measures in your game, but how are you going to justify yourself on 90 minutes sleep. Oh how the people of Wolverhampton will rage at you”.

The final show at The Bloomsbury was very different to Bath. There was just the right level of anxiety to sharpen the mind. Perhaps it would have been best to have had a shoddy show, then I could look back on it and think, “well, it’s pretty obvious why you are ceasing stand up, look at that mess you spewed out and slid in on your final night”.
But I enjoyed showing off. I talked very fast. I barely even ran over, the whole night was done in two hours and forty minutes. And Grace Petrie was superb as usual, firing out justified political ire before driving the tears out of everyone’s eyes with a beautiful song about Charles and Emma Darwin.

I had more to say, but there came a point when I thought, “that is enough”, let them leave before the Stockholm syndrome kicks in and we all drink the Kool-aid. (poor Kool-aid, once the by-word for a refreshing drink, now a trademark shortcut to mean cult insanity).

Now I’m going to go hunting for ideas and landscapes to try and fill in a few of the vast, echoing caverns of my ignorance. Back in the Winter months, I wondered if I might find that this sabbatical would lead to a dawning realisation that I should have been doing something else all along, and thus my Bernard Black existence would fill the rest of my life, decaying and decalcifying in my seafront bookstore.

I may be wrong, but I think a stand up is what I am, and it is going to be a challenge to not have the chance to immediately release new ideas on a crowd or smattering. Hopefully, these ideas will gestate over the years or die before being mouthed, and whatever I come back with will be better than before.

Thank you to everyone who has supported all my tours and solo shows.
I still have a few things in my diary. I have a few charity gigs including this one in Brighton next week, and I’ll be popping up to Edinburgh Fringe for a single show.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to shout “Voltan!” and talk music with Michael Legge, discuss reality tunnels with Alan Moore (no idea when those particular podcasts will see the light of day. Recorded and waiting) and obviously I’ll continue to comb and provoke Professor Cox.

oh, and Josie Long and I will return to The Bloomsbury for a Christmas Shambles with Sara Pascoe, Bridget Christie, Hollie McNish, Rufus Hound and plenty more.

Bye, I am now off walk the streets to mumble to myself between 730pm and 1030pm every night.

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Not Tying Nooses Yet

This blog post is probably of little interest to those acts currently in limbo, hoping for a room at the Edinburgh Fringe after the Cowgatehead debacle.

I would like to explain why I have not pulled out of the Free Fringe benefit at the Bloomsbury theare and why this does not mean that I am ambivalent towards the currently frustrated, venue-less acts.

Firstly, let me make it clear that neither Stewart Lee nor I, or indeed any of the other acts, were asked to do a benefit “to help fund the smashing of people’s dreams”. Though anyone who knows us will be aware that most of the benefits we agree to are based on our desire to create a dystopian future that maximises people’s misery, this is not such a venture.

I agreed to the benefit, as I have all the other free fringe benefits, to support the acts and the idea of it. The money goes towards creating the PBH’s Free Fringe brochure so hopefully helps all the shows get an audience. The money does not go to Peter Buckley Hill’s beer and Ferrari fund.

I, and other acts, have been criticised for not pulling out of the show due to the current stalemate and confusion.

Why have I not pulled out?

Because as yet, I have not seen enough evidence of heinous skullduggery. This is a fucked up situation, but it still does not seem clear to me who is to blame.

The version of events I have seen so far, and this seems to be changing depending on whose facebook statuses you monitor, is that a venue was booked full of acts before the landlord was confirmed. When the landlord was confirmed, he did not want that particular booker and, again from the version of events I have been told, was angered when he heard it had all been booked without his permission. A further problem was that there were far more rooms needed than the landlord wished to create for the fringe. The story of how this hopeless scenario occurred is still a mess.

I have not seen a full account of why the initial booker believed it was definitely theirs to book. I have read some status updates, though they seem far from transparent.

I have also seen status updates that seem fueled by animosity towards Peter Buckley Hill that has built up long before this incident.

The most important part of this is to house those acts currently with fringe listings and without venues and work out the most effective way to publicise where they will be.

It would also seem to be useful to hear from the current landlord and those who were the potential landlords as this could make thing far clearer.

I know we are always meant to act like a government reacting to tabloid rumours of dangerous squirrels, act first and fuck the evidence, follow the flags of popular outcry, but I try to make decisions based on the clearest possible version of events.

Too many egos, not enough facts.

I am sure there is more to be revealed in the next hours and days and I will keep up to date with what information comes out and my actions and reasoning may change, but I’d rather not lynch now and regret later.

Addendum: Much is being made of the fact that the Free Fringe only informed the Fringe the day before the brochure deadline (8th april) . Some acts believe this was done maliciously to punish them for joining Freestival. Surely it would then have been better to say nothing. If the Fringe had taken this seriously, they could have contacted the acts. The brochure is not printed the day after the deadline, in fact, there is still  a week to change from the proof copy (at least from my experience), so all this nonsense could have been stopped in time.

This is a statement put up on Facebook from Frank Gailbraith, with intro by Paul B Edwards.

“Perhaps it would be a good idea to read this statement just released by Frank Galbraith (our man in Edinburgh and one of the only people who knows all about the Cowgatehead fiasco:

“Hi Guys,
Just to keep you all updated we have now completed discussions with the Cowgatehead licensee and the Fringe Office regarding the mis-reported claims that Freestival had rights to use the venue during Edinburgh Fringe 2015.
These continued claims by Freestival that PBH, the licensee and the owners are all to blame is only a shameful smokescreen to cover up their mishandlings and I can only assume avert possible civil action claims.
So that everyone is clear on these issues, having previously had discussions with the building owners and a potential licensee, we emailed the Fringe office on 7th April 2015 of a possible conflict of interest in using Cowgatehead this year and to be wary accepting advertisements from performers until the venue licensee and promoters were confirmed. We were then contacted by the newly confirmed licensee on Tuesday 19th May, and had Edinburgh meetings with him on Wed 20th and Thur 21st May, agreed and exchanged contract details on us promoting events at Cowgatehead & Cowshed, Bar-Bados (St Johns) and Tron Kirk.
We also had further Edinburgh meetings with the licensee on Tuesday 2nd and Wed 3rd June 2015, and also met with the Edinburgh Fringe Society management on the Wednesday afternoon when the licensee, Peter and I further confirmed the position with the fringe office.
It has been very disappointing to read some of the social media reports and comments, from several performers and a few bloggers/journalists, that Peter Buckley Hill and the Free Fringe organization team had irresponsibly taken use of the venue, left 150 performers without a stage to perform on and £1000’s out of pocket. It was also disturbing to read Freestivals claims that we refused to compromise on relinquishing or sharing the venue and that we further refused to attend pre-arranged mediation with the licensee, fringe office and Freestivals sponsors in London on Tuesday 2nd May 2015.
Whilst it’s understandable that the concerns of the performers have foundation, it is disappointing that some of them have taken to shamefully denouncing PBH in their social media posts based on grossly inaccurate information given to them by their promoter.
It is also extremely concerning to us and the licensee that Freestival are continuing their claims that a verbal agreement existed and that the FREESTIVAL LTD board have backed a petition demanding they be given the venue and are considering legal action against the licensee.
The recent claims by Freestival that they had hammered out a compromise agreement with the licensee and that we had declined the compromise deal was incorrect. Their further claims that a London compromise meeting, with the licensee and the fringe office being in attendance, was cancelled due to our non attendance was also fabricated.
Not only was the reported meeting never agreed or programmed by the licensee, the fringe office management had no confirmed details of it either, other that what was told to them by Freestival.
On the alleged London meeting date the licensee was at pre planned meetings in Edinburgh with members of the PBHFF team.
So that we are all clear on this point the licensee has confirmed with us and the fringe office that NO COMPROMISE MEETING WAS EVER AGREED OR EVEN DISCUSSED WITH FREESTIVAL FOR THEM TO USE OR SHARE THE BUILDING. What was apparently discussed during Freestivals Edinburgh meeting on 25 May, was that the licensee would meet with Peter to discuss the affected acts, as apparently Freestival informed the licensee that Peter had refused to take any of the displaced acts.
As Peter has already reported, the genre AD’s are presently working extremely hard finalising offers with the affected Freestival acts and 51 of the 89 CGH acts that are listed in the EdFringe programme have already had their allocated slots with us confirmed.
However, despite our efforts to sort out this mess, it is still shocking to read recent posts by Freestival that an Eleventh hour compromise may still be possible if PBH can be convinced to give up the venue. This is simply not an option we could consider, as the licensee has already informed the Freestival organization that they were never promised use of the venue nor would they be offered usage in any of their venues due to the yet unreported conduct of Freestival during the venue bidding process.
In recent statements Freestival reported that discussions had been on going since 2014 with the prospective licensees and the building owners, whom they claimed are the same management company as their sponsors La Favorita. These statements were grossly inaccurate and served no purpose other than to mislead people.
The facts are that La Favorita and their owners have never had ownership of the building and as such no agreements or authority could have been given to Freestival. The actual owners of the building and both perspective licensees (The decision makers) confirmed to us that no agreement with Freestival was ever in place. They (The decision makers) have also pointed out that this can be backed up with Corroborating Evidence.
I am also personally angered to see the barrage of abuse towards PBH, the Free Fringe committee & organising team, the licensee and the building owners. Some of the posts include suggesting people should veto our venues AND that our London fundraiser performers should reconsider their association with PBHFF. This in my opinion has exceeded the acceptable lines of voicing their protestations.
Please be assured that we have all conducted ourselves in a professional manner throughout this and we do not deserve the criticism that has been thrown at us. We do however take on board that the emotional outbursts from the performing community is only on the back of information given to them by their promoter.
We are also extremely saddened to hear about several acts that expect substantial financial losses this year due to the unfulfilled promises and agreements they had with Freestival. We of course cannot guarantee putting all the affected acts back into the rooms promised to them by Freestival due to the fact that three of the rooms simply do not exist. Had Freestival been in discussions with the licensees, as they have claimed, they would have known that one of the floors they claimed to have as a staged area in will in fact be a music bar. Simply put there is only enough room for six stages. However, we are presently in discussions regards putting in place contingency plans to secure additional venues/stages to accommodate the remaining displaced acts that wish to apply to us and our own acts that have been waiting patiently.
It is our hope that the Freestival team will now move on and concentrate on their own show preparations and cease this senseless course of vindictive action towards the Free Fringe organisation.
I trust this explains some of the many questions asked of me recently and that we can now concentrate on our own final preparations in ensuring Edinburgh Fringe 2015 is our best to date.


I hope everyone can now move on, as he suggests. I don’t think this post merits discussion but it is worth reading. Thanks.”

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