I'm a comedian "doing Edinburgh" (see the trailer for my show here). I have also decided to set up as a reviewer. Not of shows, you understand, but of EVERYTHING ELSE. I mean why not?
The Kings Cross to Waverley Train: Scenery The Real Star of This Epic
Um firstly, WTF has happened to Kings Cross??? Why did no one tell me? Remember how it used to be a train station? Now it looks like a place in a science fiction film where people are tricked into going for mass euthanasia. And there's no Burger King. Very unnerving.
ANYWAY. The London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverley train. It's a marquee name. It's got a real old-timey romance to it. You can imagine the platform in Victorian times: men in top hats and moustaches talking about who was doing their PR that year.
At £60 this is one of the most expensive tickets in town. For £60 you could see The Ladyboys of Bangkok three times. Or The Ladyboys of Bangkok once with pocket money left over for some drugs. Could it live up to the hype?
Luckily I had one of the best seats in the house. Like every other time I've booked a train ticket, the website assumed a backwards-facing aisle-seat with no table would be my first choice. By allowing the beady-eyed to then choose otherwise it makes that window seat with the power socket all the sweeter. Thanks East Coast!!
Now then. As a comedian, the Kings Cross to Waverley has in previous years been marred by one huge flaw: its propensity to throw up a dizzying number of awkward professional reunions. There is nothing worse than being enforced 'train pals' with someone who you can't remember whether you slept with the previous year. Last year I pretended to be asleep for a solid four hours to avoid having to talk to a comedian who sat down next to me. I spent the first hour of this unsuccessfully brainstorming reasons to get up and go and sit in another carriage without engaging in conversation. I spent the next three hours with my phone down the side of my seat texting very slowly.
Thankfully this year they seem to have sorted that out. Sharing a booth with me are two businessmen who talk about the mining industry in Namibia.
I pretend they are rehearsing an incredibly naturalistic play about rare mineral finance. If this was a Mike Leigh people would rave.
You can do this with any group of people on the Edinburgh train in August. Eg. In a sort of Loose Women-does-Gregorian chant the woman on the right recited her weekly weight loss or gain for an entire year of her life. I found it really relaxing even when she put a pound on three weeks in a row:
Other highlights included an enjoyable sense of moral indignation at the wifi charges which are 40 million pounds for no minutes, followed by a pleasing sense of my own cunning as I used my phone to stare at Facebook instead. Bravo me, in your face East Coast!
Apart from two fauns south of York (they could have been dogs), there's not much here for the casual scenery fan until the North East. And then out of nowhere comes a medley of all your faves: The Angel of The North: boom! Durham Cathedral: kablam! Newcastle Tyne Bridge: oh hai!
(this was supposed to be the Tyne Bridge but my camera didn't load in time so i took this one instead)
I was worried they'd peaked too early views-wise, but no, all this served as a appetiser to the piece de resistance. In a repeat of last year's winning formula you pass right by a tiny, tiny beach upon which there is a single holidaying family and an eight year-old boy trying to get his trunks up over his sandy, chill-blained bum. I was on my feet.
All in all, I left this train flooded with hope. Hope that maybe this is the year I will drink enough water and not take up smoking again!
VERDICT: **** One of the smash-hits of the fest. Pay over £60 to get a ticket!