So, I’m heading up to do the Edinburgh Fringe for a month. Here’s what you need to know:

1) I am doing my new show, How To Be A Leader, at the Underbelly every day at 8:55pm. Here’s the spiel:

Overthrown your corrupt government and wondering what to do next? Love democracy (in theory) but prefer power, golden statues and tons of sweet loot? Channel 4 presenter and award-winning author Tim Clare can help. ‘Has audiences hooting. Sublime’ (Guardian), ‘The most compelling performer on the Fringe’ ***** (, ‘Intimate and energetic’ (Stage).

Basically, it’s a mixture of lecture and storytelling, mostly trying to be funny, sometimes interesting, then I bust out some nauseous uncouth rhymes for the finale. Fringe Guru gave it 5 stars and said: ‘thoughful, original and human. This is one of the best Fringe shows I’ve seen in ages…’ and it won a Brighton Fringe Best Show award. It’s also one of The List’s ‘Comedy Picks’ for the Fringe.

I’m in the super-competitive primetime slot, and a bit nervous about whether I’ll be able to attract an audience at all, since I’m up against the biggest names at the Fringe, so, you know – if you want to bust a tweet out about the show to your friends, or link to this blogpost on Facebook, you’d be doing me a solid and helping out a jobbing performer trying to make his way in the blood-spattered carnival o’ malice that is Edinburgh. Or, you could even come see the show? If you’re in town, I mean. But spreading the word would be fantastic. Word of mouth is far more effective than advertising, or even glowing reviews. People trust their peers. Please, dear friends, abuse that trust to help further my career.

You can book tickets here.

2) I am doing a show with John Osborne and Luke Wright, called Aisle16 R Kool, every night at 10pm at the Banshee Labyrinth. Again, here’s the spiel:

Hey kids, don’t worry, getting older doesn’t mean you can’t still be radical! Luke Wright, Tim Clare and John Osborne ask ‘what is cool?’ and more importantly ‘are we it?’ The answer is probably ‘no’ but they are three of the funniest stand-up poets around today and regulars at festivals including Glastonbury and Latitude. So put down those skateboards and join them as they ‘spit some rhymes’ about texting and shooting hoops. Kowabunga! ‘Brilliantly, ingeniously shit’ (Scottish Poetry Review). ***** (Time Out).

Basically, it’s an excuse for me, John and Luke to deliver the best of our brand new material, while battling to see who is the coolest. Each night, we’ll have a secret audience ballot to find out who they think is coolest out of the three of us. We’re not saying that any of us is actually cool, but one of us, relatively speaking, must be slightly cooler than the other two. By the end of our Fringe run, we’ll have a definitive answer that the winner can use to beat the losers over the head with for the rest of our wonderful lives. THAT’S SCIENCE, KIDS. I just want to say right now that my proposed rap for the show got vetoed by the other two guys. They are playing hardball. We had our first vote at this month’s Homework, and John Osborne beat me into second place by a four vote margin. I intend to fight back. This aggression will not stand.

You can find more details here, although you won’t need tickets as it’s free. However, I suggest getting there a little ahead of time, just in case – last year the free show I did with Ross completely filled out and we had to turn people away, and we were in a room that was twice the size. Since it is free, and peeps will be drunk, and we are hella famous, who knows, it may be packed out every night.

3) I am doing the Poetry Takeaway in Bristo Square. Do you know about the Poetry Takeaway? Why not visit the Poetry Takeaway website?

So last year I arrived at the festival with a camping table and a stupid idea. Why not sit in the street with a sign saying: ‘Free poems on any subject, 10 minutes or less’ and see what happens? So I did, every third day, along with over a dozen poets who were performing at the Fringe, and, sure enough, people came, and we wrote them poems on whatever subject they wanted, then we performed them to them and gave them a copy to take away.

This year, Tom Searle of Show + Tell has taken my idea and run with it – after various discussions and consultations and efforts at attracting funding, we’ve actually bought a takeaway van off Ebay, then had designers do it up. We have customised stationery and signage and actual rubber stamps to mark each one as authentic. It has turned from one type of stupid idea into another type of stupid idea – the big, ambitious, are-you-out-of-your-mind type that provokes pity and admiration in equal measure. It is an original thing. It is no longer half-arsed, but actually pretty fucking cool. And it will be up in Edinburgh all month, doing what it always did – serving up free poems on any subject by some of the UK’s most talented performance poets with a lightning-fast turnaround time.

It is so cool. Seriously, I love doing it. The van is a massive white elephant that is falling to pieces, my practical skills are hovering around nil, but it’s an adventure and it has made me like people a lot more. Speaking to strangers all day, often about quite personal topics, has really made me realise how nice a lot of humanity is. Sounds cheesy but there it is. Plus my super-rapid doggerel game is tight, yo.

The Poetry Takeaway will be in Bristo Square all month, opening most days around lunchtime. Poems are strictly first-come, first-served, and demand is usually massive, so arrive early to avoid disappointment. Well, you still might be disappointed anyway (the poem might be crap), so maybe lower your expectations to avoid disappointment. But that applies to everything, doesn’t it? Never take any risks to avoid disappointment. Perhaps you should stop trying to avoid disappointment. Perhaps that’s an unrealistic and unhelpful goal.

Here’s an article The List wrote about the Poetry Takeaway, along with a poem I wrote – to order – about the Edinburgh Fringe.

4) So Show + Tell are attempting to plug the gap in the market by releasing a new Sunday tabloid at the start of the Fringe. It’s called The View and I’ve written a self-indulgent article in it, mostly about my favourite mayor, Mike Haggar from 1989 beat ’em up Final Fight. To a few of you, this will provoke a tingle of recognition. Most of you have now glazed over like zombies. That’s fine. I never needed you guys anyway.

Copies will be available around the city from Sunday 7th August. I suspect the Poetry Takeaway and the Underbelly will be pretty reliable places to pick one up. There are also articles by Simon Munnery, Ed Aczel, Kim Noble, John Osborne, Molly Naylor and Nathan Penlington. If you don’t find at least one article in there that interests you, I will be totally bowled over. So, y’know – you’re in Edinburgh, grab one.

5) Still reading? Wow. Look, here’s the first draft of a new poem I wrote in preparation for Edinburgh. It’s about being kind to yourself. I suspect that when my trusted peers point out its more obvious defects I shall return and edit it. But for now, do forward this on to anyone you know who has been working themselves too hard and could do with treating themselves with a little compassion:

Be Kind To Yourself

Be kind to yourself.
Each day, give yourself a compliment.
Make it specific,
one you’ve always wanted to receive:
‘Your seafood risotto is ace.’
‘That time after salsa class
when you bought everyone ice cream
was magical.’
‘Thanks for doing the washing up
for four weeks
after Dad’s funeral.’

Be kind to yourself.
Learn the art of disappointing people;
the bar will manage Friday night without you;
Ross can wait another day to play ping-pong;
your daughter will have other clarinet recitals
or, more likely,
she will take the hint and give up.

Be kind to yourself.
Make yourself a full Christmas dinner with all the trimmings
in the middle of July,
gravy, cranberry sauce
and big glasses of port.
Afterwards, doze off on the sofa in front of Shrek 3
and when your boss calls
to ask why you aren’t at work today
ask him who the fuck he thinks he is,
calling you on today of all days?
Apologise. This is the season of goodwill.
Invite him round for mince pies and sherry,
about sixish?
Yes, I know it’s the middle of July.
Yes, I am feeling okay,
I’m just learning how to be happy in a world
made mostly of gas and dying meat.
Your boss will offer you the rest of the week off.
Take it
like the last Quality Street.

Be kind to yourself.
Snatch a charity tin
from an old lady
collecting money for the Lifeboat Appeal
and use the proceeds to fill your fridge
with 50 tubes of Smarties.
I know they’re made by Nestle
but come on
it’s not like you’re stealing
charity tins from old ladies
oh wait

Be kind to yourself.
Sleep with people
other than your wife –
you deserve it;
after all, you spent a whole afternoon
creosoting the new shed
while she sat on a lawn chair
reading My Booky Wook 2.
When she discovers your infidelity
she will probably say:
‘Fair play, mate,’
laugh, and slap you on the back.
Yes, it’s what I’d do.

Be kind to yourself.
Stop leaving the house.
Outdoors there is weather and cat mess.
Why put yourself through that
when there’s leftover turkey right here
under the coffee table?
Let answerphone messages stack up
like song requests on a pub jukebox.
Drink the last 100ml of sherry,
then play ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ at full blast
on the downstairs stereo,
dancing like a toddler
while the neighbours hammer their approval
against the partition wall.

Be kind to yourself.
Let friendships drop like pine needles.
Save on laundry by wearing nothing
but a powder blue dressing gown.
Allow yourself to come unmoored
from the sun’s glum, luckless circuits.
Leave the lights off, and walk
through your house at 2am.
You will feel like a ghost
haunting scenes from his old life,
unwashed plates heaped in the sink like manuscripts,
a dim, mauve diamond of moonlight
picking out fridge magnets
and an obsolete to-do list.
Drink the last 5ml of port.
Call your ex-wife
and listen to her breathing
before she hangs up.
She will be strangely unreal,
like an urban fox caught in a porch light.

Lie flat on the cool, sticky kitchen floor,
your dressing gown soft as terry towelling.
Drink the brandy you were saving for best.
You are excellent at noticing life’s little absurdities.
Well done for creosoting the shed.
Your beard smells like Christmas.
You are a brilliant whistler.