Saturday, 17 August 2013

Friday 16th August - Walking with...

Today Fletcher has been walking with a certain Ms. Monique Besten in
Utrecht while walking the streets of Edinburgh. He walked with her to
Greyfriars Kirkyard to meet an aforementioned Spanish gentleman. There
he was photographed reciting an excerpt from the autobiography of Sir
William Topaz McGonagall, Poet and Tragedian, Knight of the Order of
the White Elephant, relating to his travels and travails to see the
Queen at Balmoral, as well as giving his "Farewell Address at the
Argyle Hall, Tuesday June 22nd 1880". After this final honouring,
Fletcher walked with Ms. Besten to Bristo Square, where he collected
trousers, shoes and keys from a young gentleman in a coffee barrow,
for patching, stitching and cutting. These dealt with, he then walked
with Ms. Besten to Summerhall to deliver a butlerial shirt for
adulteration, before walking with Ms. Besten via Piemaker and St.
Cecilia's Hall (where the bagpipes were spectacular) to Hunt and
Darton's marvellous cafe for a last trio of finger sandwiches, a slice
of Battenburg and a set menu. With Ms. Besten, Fletcher subsequently
made his way up the Mile and took a glass of vino tinto with Butler
Thompson on the Mound in a light rain, before heading with Ms. Besten
to Jenner's Department Store for a fascinating encounter with the
Whisky Anorak in the Boardroom. Following this, he was forced to ruff
with Ms. Besten along Princes Street to reach the Royal Lyceum Theatre
in time to see a certain Ms. Meredith Monk, before taking a long walk
across the Meadows with Ms. Besten to Summerhall for a farewell
commission in splendid company. The Butlers' sojourn in this Athens of
the North is over, and a fine time has been had by all.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Thursday 15th August - Orientation and Progression

Since the Butlers' sojourn in this Athens of the North nears its
close, Fletcher decided to use today to visit some performances which
he had had no opportunity to experience before now. These had a
distinctly Asian flavour, beginning with a beguiling piece of
traditional Japanese storytelling, which was followed by an early
brunch of delicious German sausage and sauerkraut tops. Thence to
Greyfriars Kirkyard once again, where "Grace Darling, or the Wreck of
the Forfarshire" and "Ode to William McGonagall" were given, and a
chance encounter with a young Spanish gentleman proved somewhat
productive, about whom more anon. Fletcher then wended his way to the
Mile, saltired cupcake in hand, to soak up sights and sounds before
sampling the delights of a Korean theatre company who combined
puppetry and painting to great effect. This, though, was a mere
prelude to a much-anticipated encounter with Ms. Meredith Monk, an
experience which proved most fulfilling. A swift peregrination in the
company of a certain Mr. Hutera was made across the city to
Summerhall, where performances were eschewed in favour of a glass or
two of vino tinto in fascinating and erudite company, and conversation
continued late into the evening, despite the rain, with Fletcher
receiving the great honour of viewing a tiny but significant
exhibition in the company of the impassioned curator, proving once
again that there can be no better place to spend one's leisure hours.
But all good things must come to an end, and Fletcher must needs climb
those stairs to Bedfordshire in order to be fit and spry to walk
tomorrow with Ms. Monique Besten through the environs of Utrecht, yet
another deep honour.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Wednesday 14th August - Pots and Pans

Usually the Butlers have a clear sense of what a commission might
entail before embarking upon it, but this morning Fletcher was
summoned to an apartment in Abbeyhill on a mysterious errand. He
decided on a picturesque route to get there, and thus walked the
entire length of the Mile, delivering more certificates of elevation
and accomplishment along the way, and pausing for a rather delicious
al fresco lapsang in the vicinity of Holyrood. The commission turned
out to be a pleasure - meeting old friends from years ago and waking a
gentleman with a mug of tea and a rendition of the Poet McGonagall's
"Edinburgh". Breakfast was served and conversation shared regarding
art, books and the South Seas. But Fletcher could not linger, as he
had an appointment with Butler Newsam and a certain missing gecko at
Pleasance Courtyard, en route to which he accidentally managed to
acquire a quantity of superior Polish studio pottery. Newsam was
forced to depart soon after their encounter, but Fletcher remained in
the Courtyard, reminiscing about old times, before decamping to Hunt
and Darton for some special teal and a chance tryst with a rather
inspiring Canadian storyteller. Thence to the Mile once more, for some
meditative repose on a bollard, being repeatedly photographed as an
unintended living statue, before two stirling performances by old
friends and a fourth monkey in Niddry Street. Convivial drinks were
taken in a centrally placed hostelry before a damp perambulation
homeward through sudden and unexpected rain.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Thompson's Edinburgh so far...

Having raced through the half way point of Thompson's visit to Edinburgh it was about time he paid some attention to the Butler Blog.

A pleasant and successful festival has been had so far by Thompson and his colleague Fletcher the Butler. Having been slightly concerned prior to the festival this year that sadly only two butlers could offer their services at this years fringe, it does not seem to have affected our coverage of services across the city (although at times we have sadly needed to turn down some commissions due to prior engagements.)

As always it has been wonderful to see old faces and the call of 'The Butlers are here' from across a busy road from eagle-eyed friends of the butlers from past years.

This year I have been having immense enjoyment paying tribute to one of the greatest geniuses who ever devoted their life to the art of showmanship 'The Great Lafayette', who died in 1911 in a tragic fire whilst performing in the Empire Theatre on the site of the current Festival Theatre on Nicholson Street. As well as being an exceptional showman, he also was an exceptionally eccentric gentleman.

It has also been a wonderful opportunity for me to perform some acts of prestidigitation for visitors to the fringe, fellow performers and also some Edinburgh locals.

With only two days left at the fringe, what will the remainder of the festival being for the Butlers.....

Tuesday 13th August - Homages

This was a day rather wonderfully topped and tailed by a certain Ms.
Patti Smith, with whom Fletcher (and a few other people) spent time at
the Hub and the Playhouse Theatre where she paid homage to Allen
Ginsberg and Robert Louis Stevenson, and offered the following
aphorism: "Never worry about the meaning of everything. Sometimes the
experience is enough." Between these two encounters was another varied
menu of butlerial activity. Breakfast was taken with Butlers Newsam
and Jancis, who then accompanied Fletcher to Greyfriars Kirkyard and a
tryst with a Canadian family whose ardent penchant for the Poet
McGonagall made them a perfect audience for an extended recitation in
which Fletcher gave "Grif, of the Bloody Hand" and "The Destroying
Angel, or the Poet's Dream", while Newsam offered "The Moon" and,
controversially, "Glasgow". Focus remained on the Poet as Fletcher
proceeded to the Mile in order to surprise the Fringe Marketing Team
with "Lines in Defence of the Stage", before rest and recooteration at
the Hunt and Darton Cafe with tea and crumpets. A period of mercantile
activity was then called for, so that a young flyerer in Bristo Square
might be provided with an afternoon repast of superior Scottish
cheeses and oatcakes, as well as some less Scottish grapes, a most
pleasant al fresco dining during which Fletcher met a raft of
delightful people. Fletcher's evening performance in the New Town was
followed by a leisurely stroll home through the gathering darkness,
accompanied by the plangent feux d'artifice of the Tattoo, a fittingly
celebratory conclusion to another busy butlerial day.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Monday 12th August - Song and Dance

How interesting to see Summerhall so early in the morning, with sleep
still in its eyes, and to sit in the sun-dappled quadrangle with a
tasty cup of coffee whilst a smattering of visitors and plethora of
staff bustle past. Fletcher was there to partake of a fascinating talk
by a nominating friend of the Butlers, following which he spent a
precious few minutes in the company of a tie man before wending his
way to a luncheon with Butler Newsam, indulging a tradition for al
fresco spice. Fortified by their curries, the two Butlers then made a
visit to Greyfriars Kirkyard, where Fletcher gave the Poet
McGonagall's "An Address to Shakespeare", whilst Newsam offered "The
Beautiful Sun". But it was soon time to venture down to the New Town,
ukelele banjo in hand, in response to a complex and challenging
commission which saw Fletcher singing and playing his banjo in the
very public setting of the Spiegel Terrace to an accomplished ukelele
band from Frome, assisted by the ever-dependable Butler Thompson. A
delicious aperol and prosecco concoction was required to recover from
such overt performance, and to prepare for a full evening of service,
in which Fletcher and Thompson served multifarious beverages to a
heady mix of distinguished artists and theatre types at the Pheasance
Dome. Fletcher was required to undertake one more commission before
evening's end, collecting a much-needed wax jacket from the
sallubrious surroundings of the Hotel Missoni, and the day was done.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Sunday 11th August - Pumping Up the Volume

Having no commissions in the immediate offing, Fletcher was able to
spend an involved morning making unfortunate repairs to the butlerial
conveyance in far-flung Riccarton before hitting the streets of this
Athens of the North and delivering certificates of elevation and
fringal accomplishment to a plethora of deserving venues, not least
the hidden gem of Riddle's Court (Venue 16), where the beauty of the
interior was matched only by the warmth of their reception for an
honest, working Butler, and where Poet McGonagall's "Beautiful
Edinburgh" was given in a secluded and sun-kissed courtyard. A short
perambulation of the Mile was then taken en route to a tryst with
Butler Thompson in Anteaques, where a fragrant darjeeling was imbibed,
accompanied by a delightful rhubarb and hibiscus tart, the pastry of
which was truly exemplary. Thence once again to Summerhall, where
Thompson was introduced to the extraordinary work of Gregor Schneider,
and much intelligent and leisurely conversation was enjoyed plover a
glass or two of Spanish red, before Fletcher placed himself in a room
with a loud and visually spectacular Tesla coil for as long as was
comfortable. By this time, an evening repast was called for, and
Butlers Fletcher and Thompson, along with off-duty Butlers Jancis and
Newsam, the latter recently arrived from distant Liverpool, gathered
in Olly Bongo's for some delicious and exotic fare before a return
visit to a playful and much-admired one man show at the Dragonfly
(Venue 63), following which Butlers Fletcher and Thompson wended their
weary way home, meeting along the way a young gentleman for whom they
had provided their services fully seven years ago, and who still held
the Butlers in great affection and regard. How nice it is to know that
we are remembered long after our modest tasks are done.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Saturday 10th August - Arrivals and Recitations

Saturdays are always hawkward days at the Fringe, when the already
busy streets become impossibly crowded and even hardened participants
wish for a little rest and recuperation. This was made possible today
by the arrival in Edinburgh of Butler Thompson, whose need to
acclimatise and adjust to the heady atmosphere of the Festival allowed
for a leisurely re-introduction to its excesses. Still, Fletcher had
his commissions to perform, which saw him bearing a heartfelt cake
from Zoo Southside to C Nova, an offering which was received with
great warmth and emotion. Then a colourful stroll with Thompson down
the Mile led inexorably to the Blue Nun and jigsaws of the Hunt and
Darton Cafe, after which Thompson was in fine fettle for beginning his
homage to The Great Lafayette in front of the Edinburgh Playhouse and
Greyfriars Bobby, while Fletcher gave his first recitation - of "The
Burning of the People's Variety Theatre, Aberdeen" - at the house of
the Poet McGonagall's passing. Appetites were then assuaged with a
deep fried minced pie and a tipple of Scottish cider to conclude this
full day.

Friday 9th August - Aquamarine and Reds

Today Fletcher made an early start, walking across this Athens of the
North with commuters before the Fringe was even awake, to take up his
position as office Butler for the morning with an extraordinary and
inspiring company dealing with the generation of wave power. It was a
plover to be of service, undertaking such tasks as tea- and
coffee-making, the serving of cakes, conference-calling, office
recycling, jewellery untangling, and even the reciting of a little
McGonagall. A reporter happened to be on hand, and so more can be seen
of Fletcher's exploits at
. Dismissed at lunchtime, he took the opportunity to deliver a
far-flung Certificate of Accomplishment and acquire some lovingly
hand-blended tea before hopping on a passing omnibus to Anteaques for
a swift tarry souchong, thence to Summerhall for a lazy afternoon of
red wine and fine conversation, punctuated by a beautiful homage to
Messrs. Demarco and Beuys, and a somewhat patchy game of chess with
John Cage and Samuel Beckett. But work called in the evening, with the
presentation of a birthday cake at Zoo Southside and the delivery of
an astonishing and rare gift in Abbeyhill, proving once again how
varied and rewarding this year's Festival continues to be.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Thursday 8th August - Topaz

A day of extraordinary moments, as Fletcher continued to wander the
Fringe and let meaningful events come to him. An early morning stroll
led to meetings with a variety of lovely people, not least a most
valued enthusiast and nominator of the Butlers, before a spot of
exquisite Japanese green tea was taken in the immaculate surroundings
of Anteaques. Then, certain Certificates of Elevation delivered,
Fletcher paused in Summerhall long enough to sample the starling and
profound experience created by Gregor Schneider, before rushing
pell-mell to Tron Kirk and a tryst with a young gentleman from Dundee
who was introduced to the Poet McGonagall on a butlerial tour which
concluded at Makars' Court, where said young gentleman chalked a
memorial on to the literary paving. Thence to the Hunt and Darton Cafe
once more, and a meeting with a man recently arrived from Cambridge by
bicycle, with whom was shared tea, Tunnock's and an environment of
playful whimsy. By this time, the rain had come and Fletcher made his
way to the Mile where he sheltered various young flyerers with his
umbrella, notably a young lady from Cambridge who inadvertently
revealed the hidden significance of Poet McGonagall's middle name, and
who received his "Billy Bowls the Sailor" in grateful return. A cider
of Scotland and a soup of Taiwan brought this busy day to a satisfied

Wednesday 7th August - Paying Attention

One of the most experimental services that Butler Fletcher is offering
this year is that of paying attention: for one hour, a person may
engage him to pay attention to them. This involves merely watching
them, carefully and attentively, from a discreet distance, with no
direct interaction between butler and client. Today Fletcher paid
attention for the first time, to a young gentleman whose flyering
activities took him on a breathless journey from Bristo Square, via
Cowgate, to Pleasance Courtyard during his allotted hour. The
experience was a profound one for watcher and watched alike, the
highlight being a moment at 23 minutes when the young gentleman
suddenly exclaimed out loud, "I get it! I'm the show!" This, along
with a pot of special tea at the wonderful Hunt and Darton Cafe, were
the undoubted highlights of a full day. "The Burning of the Exeter
Theatre" was given in Greylag Kirkyard and was much appreciated, but a
visit to Makars' Court again highlighted the sorry lack of recognition
of the Poet McGonagall as being at the forefront of this country's
literary heritage. The evening was concluded with pleasant drinks al
fresco with old friends at the historic Bedlam Theatre.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Tuesday 6th August - Libraries and Libations

Tuesday saw Fletcher taking a bus out of this crow-ded and bustling
city to far-flung Haddington, where he had an appointment to be of
service in that town's lovely and welcoming library. There he was
greeted by a delightful gathering of local people, whom he regaled for
two hours with stories and recitations of Poet McGonagall, and
received a most appreciative response. He then spent a very pleasant
journey back to this Athens of the North in the company of a most
convivial gentleman with a plethora of fascinating anecdotes about his
life and experiences. After paying solitary homage in Greyfriars
Kirkyard, he made his first visit to Summerhall for the quaffing of
superior vino tinto, a little delicious Indian street food, some
subtle celebrity-spotting, and a rather baffling Russian entertainment
to end a very enjoyable day.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Monday 5th August -

Arriving yesterday in this Athens of the North, Fletcher was instantly
immersed in the vibrant excitement of the Fringe, taking a tern along
the Mile and hob-nobbing with costumed performers (as well as winning
a hazelnut in an intriguing tombola) before partaking of the delights
of the Hunt and Darton cafe, where Blue Nun was quaffed and an
intimate entertainment was witnessed - Fletcher's first show of this
year's offerings. There followed a delicious dining experience,
accompanied by delightful conversation with friends old and new,
before retiring exhausted after just a few hours of preliminary
butlerial activity. Today was filled with more earnest butling,
firstly meeting a gentleman (one of those much-missed fish who are
kinky) from a train at Waverley Station, before collecting publicity
from a young lady in a state of some deshabille and indulging in a
bout of experimental flyering upon the Royal Mile. A legendary pie
emporium and dispenser of curries were both visited and selected works
of the inestimable William Topaz McGonagall were given in Bristo
Square and Greyfriars Kirkyard, received with equal measures of joy
and confusion. Finally, Fletcher accompanied his Modam to a late-night
offering designed to stimulate grown-ups to new playfulness - a
fitting end to a first full day.