Hardest man on the Frmg

It s

That Vinnie Jones is well hard is common knowledge. In all his years on the pitch he was never one to argue a decision when a punch in the mouth was likely to settle matters much more decisively. That he should have turned his fists to acting surprised many people but apparently his debut role in Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels is startlingly good. Well who’s going to argue with him? Jones plays Big Chris, the debt collector and father to the aptly named Little Chris. Whether he follows Eric Cantona into the world of the movies is still up for debate, but by the looks of the photo above, no poncey striker is going to get past the defence this season.

front of house

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Mike Gunn's Momento Mori

Fun-lovin' funeral director MIKE GUNN picks his favourite quiet, dark, dank spots around Edinburgh.

I arrive in Edinburgh not really expecting to enjoy the festival sitting about all day in the sun isn’t really my idea of a good time, I’m preoccupied with the thought that in a hundred years from now you and me and everyone we know will be dead. Voltaire once said that humans are the only creatures who know they will die (he was great fun at festivals).

If you have read this far you will have already realised that I'm not one of those cheeky chappy type of comedians who do jokes about Tesco or waiting for the bus. No, I'm much happier (if that’s the right word) dealing with the dark side of life. It’s just the way I am! If you ask me, slipping on a banana skin Will never be funny. Well, not unless you are old or ill and you hit your head on something hard on the way down. But then I never have fitted in that well. I even think it’s a shame that the weather’s brightened up. You can't really enjoy Edinburgh's Gothic architecture without a grey sky and a nice light drizzle.

While other comedians are all out relaxing in the sun and drinking their own weight in alcohol, I’m much more interested in Visiting the haunted underground city where, during the plague, so the story goes, the people of Edinburgh got it into their heads that the origin of the Black Death was in fact Mary King’s Close. So they bricked up the whole close with everyone in it. What a great idea! I must pass this useful tip on to the Birmingham City Planning Department.

But it’s early and I’m not really paying attention and I end up on the wrong tour somewhere under South Bridge. It’s cold and damp and I find out the first person to cross South Bridge did it in a hearse so it wasn’t all bad. I emerge from the vaults like an anaemic vampire, to find the weather still intensely bright.

So it's off to Deacon Brody’s for a sit down and a bloody mary. Hey! Now we’re talking Deacon Brody, a man so schizo he inspired the Robert Louis Stevenson classic Jekyll

Mike Gunn: side-splittin'. grave-diggin' director

and Hyde and had a pub named after him. How many stars does that get in The Scotsman? Not Quite as many as Burke and Hare I think; Edinburgh’s most infamous duo, famed for selling the bodies of their murdered victims to the medical profession. Possibly the beginning of the Health Servrce cut backs we still see today. Burke manages the highest accolade (no, not a five star reView), he actually has his own entry in the Oxford Dictionary. Look up Burke 'to murder by suffocation so as to leave no mark'. The Perrier pales into insignificance

I'm still marvelling at this achievement as l wan< home through the crowds. I bump into a group of grim-faced, hungover performers staring pitifully at the papers, in the hope that some critic might have given them a good review. There's gossip about who’s fallen out with who and someone having alcohol pOisoning. A grey cloud moves over the sun. Things are looking up. I might enjoy this festival after all.

Mike Gunn (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 31 Aug, 10.45pm, £8I£7 (£7I£6).

Bribes, please

The column that says 'More, please sir.’

After an initial flurry of interest that netted us some beer, a baseball cap

and a pack of pasta, things have gone predictably dull on the bribes front. Diverse Attractions, who are

clever pens with lights attached so that you can see what you're writing when doing reviews. While it's a lovely

performing Arthur Miller's Witch hunt play, The Crucible, at Riddle Court, have sent us a ’new voodoo doll’, complete with pins to stick in it. Apparently, its secret powers are only activated after mentioning their performance. We think that this actually constitutes more of a threat than a bribe and were surprised to find that the note which accompanied the doll wasn't written in blood or crayon. Anyway, go see their show before something horrible happens. The omnipotent comedy promoters Avalon kindly sent everyone in the office a notepad and one of those

thought, we all know the real reason for giving us the pens is to make us more easily noticeable to comedians and thus vulnerable to verbal savaging. Or mebbe we're just getting as paranoid as the performers.

Apart from the aforementioned voodoo spookiness and the doodling tools, there’s been a big heap of nothing, nada and zilch accumulating on the bribes, please desk. So, in the interests of greed, we’ll reiterate the rules: send us stuff and we'll mention your show. Send us really nice stuff and your show will get a glowmg mention.

a scary voodoo doll

20—27 Aug 1998 THE L131 31