Lisa's week

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Lisa's week: Joking around in Scotland

Edinburgh Fringe street performers 870118 1920

Every year In August, Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, fills with millions of visitors for the largest cultural arts festival in the world, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe – often referred to as just The Fringe. In fact, this isn’t even the main festival to be held in Edinburgh in August but rather one held on the “edges” of the main Edinburgh International Festival (EIF), hence the use of the word “Fringe” in its name.

Set up after WWII in 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival has been held every August since then. Artists in the fields of music, opera, dance and theatre are invited by the Festival Director to perform in the city and many art exhibitions, talks and workshops are also held at the same time.

Over the years, other arts festivals have been held at the same time around the city although they are separately organised. Collectively, they are referred to as the “Edinburgh Festival”.

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which features military bands, plenty of bagpipes and drums, as well as dancing, is also part of this collective and is held against the backdrop of the magnificent Edinburgh Castle. 35% of visitors to the Tattoo are international and it’s definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Scotland at that time. But be sure to book tickets ahead of time!

But back to The Fringe. This is quite an unusual festival as the performers are not invited to attend but rather it is “open access” which means that anyone may participate with any type of performance. The festival started in the same year as the “official” Edinburgh International Festival when eight theatre companies turned up to put on their own shows. They hoped to profit from the large number of people in the city attending the official events and decided to showcase their own performances in unconventional locations. These two factors – no official invitation to attend and the use of unusual locations - have been symbolic of the Fringe over the years and continue today.

Shows are now officially categorised into sections such as theatre, spoken word or circus for example but by far the largest category is comedy. This has the largest audience and reputation and includes the Edinburgh Comedy Awards.

Many now well-known performers such as Rowen Atkinson, Ricky Gervais and Eddie Izzard, have benefitted from showcasing their talents at The Fringe and young, upcoming artists head north to try their luck.

There’s even a competition each year for the “best” one-liner (joke). This year’s winning joke was, “I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change.”

I found myself wryly smiling at this one! Do you get it?

Next year’s Fringe will be from 3rd to 27th August, so why not organise your Scotland tour to take in a show or two?


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder

Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils

Episode 44: To correct or not to correct, that is the question

Episode 45: The whole world's going green!

Episode 46: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs

Episode 47: The joke's on you!

Episode 48: Left over from the Middle Ages!

Episode 49: More calendar food-based ponderings

Episode 50: We use German words too

Episode 51: Celebrating St George

Episode 52: The perfect start to the day

Episode 53: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 1)

Episode 54: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)

Episode 55: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 3)

Episode 56: Holiday season is coming!

Episode 57; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 1

Episode 58; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 2

Episode 59: Summer Solstice

Episode 60: Harry Potter turns 20

Episode 61: Quick Tip of the Week - live, life, live

Episode 62: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Episode 63:  I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Episode 64: Stick a stamp on it!

Episode 65: Idiom of the week - Water under the bridge

Episode 66: I say QWERTY, you say QWERTZ

Episode 67: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 1)

Episode 68: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 2)