Of the lefty comics at the Fringe, there’s few, Mark Thomas aside, who’ve backed up their lofty rhetoric with serious direct action. Eddy Brimson is one who has. An ex hunt-sab, he’s here to tell us of the time the police raided his flat at dawn and banged him up for making incendiary devices in his garage. That anti-Establishment enough for you?
Brimson’s style is refreshingly casual, ditching the mic and talking to us as friends, but at the same time extremely confrontational. He talks with the tone of a man used to addressing clandestine meetings in pub back rooms.
A shaven-headed England football fan with a bovver boy accent, he is something of a hostage to his appearance. This particular crowd might not jump to conclusions, but there’s plenty who would. It allows him to set up some lines that toy with us about whether he is actually a violent racist, or just an angry mod. It’s the latter, obviously, but it’s a rare example of how a white male can mess with your head for how you’re judging them.
The story he tells takes us back to the early 90s era of crusties and grebos. (We even get some Carter USM beforehand to set the mood.) It was a time when authorities were trying to slap down the counter culture with the Criminal Justice Act, and the great unwashed were defying them with every means of obstruction and disruption they could find. Brimson and his girlfriend were fully paid up members of the subculture, distributing “subversive” (i.e. anti-hunting) literature and leaflets, and eventually ending up on the wrong end of the law when falsely accused of mailing a bomb to a publishing house.
There’s a lot of “no comments” as he’s dragged into the police’s interrogation room, but the comments he’s making in this room about police and authority come through loudly. He backs up his own personal story with pleas to lock those at the top – the arms traders, corporate swindlers and politicians – in Murrayfield Stadium and blow the place up. It’s not necessarily the “peace and love” vibe Edinburgh tries to project during August, but it gets hearty applause from a sympathetic audience.
He’s probably more likely to nark off liberals at the Fringe for the language he uses about his ex’s body hair and his protective masculine instinct towards her, even though there’s nothing necessary ideologically unsound or disrespectful about it. This is simply a working class male talking in working class language, and he’s well aware that his is an unusual voice in this setting.
His story doesn’t seem fully resolved at the end, though, suggesting there’s more to this than he’s willing to tell. And it’s more a cracking pub story than a full Fringe show. But it’s fully in tune with the Fringe’s Marxist, counter-cultural roots, and very welcome for that.