03/08/2012 11:53 BST | Updated 03/10/2012 06:12 BST

Paul Merton: Laugh? I Almost Died

Edinburgh. Auld Reekie. Athens of the North. And home of the world's greatest arts festival. Where better for a hungry young stand-up, with a few gigs for southern softies under his belt, to properly launch his career?

At least, those were my thoughts back in the summer of '86, as the InterCity 125 hurtled northwards from King's Cross towards the city of my dreams and my dreams of comedy stardom. Except it didn't quite work out that way. My earliest experiences of the Edinburgh Fringe were studded with accidents and terrible events. Most of them life-threatening.