Waking from the dream
There's something about the arrival of the Edinburgh Fringe each summer that's so big, so sudden and so surreal that it seems as if it's all just a dream.
Like a big, noisy howling teenager rushing up to the demure old lady that Edinburgh normally is, whirling her around so her skirts fly in the air and her underwear is exposed to the world. (although if you're going to be pedantic, the Fringe at 62, should really know better).
Every available space is taken over for performance - from pubs and shops to church halls and public toilets.
What's left is plastered in posters, advertising shows from first thing in the morning, to the wee small hours of the next.
And they're so keen - they even started a full three days earlier than usual - to maximise the box office and because thousands of performers were already in town.
Among them Denise Van Outen, Lionel Blair, Alastair McGowan, and Paul Merton.
The celebrity revolving door was demonstrated beautifully on the Pleasance one afternoon as Hardeep Singh Kholi stepped out of one side of a taxi and Nicholas Parsons stepped in through the other.
And amidst the established names, the thousands of unknowns hoping to become known.
Among them two "Russian" performers so desperate for publicity they delivered themselves in a box to the BBC reception, and promptly perform there and then for the startled reporter.
Do we remember the name of their show - one of 2,098 at this year's Fringe?
Perhaps not, but it did up the ante for those who think a flyer is enough to justify a review.
From performances in a box to one so big, it had to be staged miles out of the city centre at Ingliston.
This Romanian version of Faust - part of the International festival - definitely upped the ante with a cast of 120 and a stage set which split down the middle, allowing the audience to descend into hell.
A spectacular performance - although perhaps lost a little of its edge by herding the audience out of hell and back into their seats - where the only hellish experience was having to queue while people in very British fashion insisted on returning to the exact same seats they'd left in the first place.
Not that there was much sitting around this festival.
Thanks to the ubiquitous city tramworks, we were all walking more.
Maps were issued to help festival goers negotiate the old town/new town divide; extra crossings were introduced in Princes Street. and more pedestrians meant more business, particularly for those with venues scattered across the city.
They were making do down at the Book festival too where a dodgy generator plunged several events into darkness.
Ian Rankin - no stranger to the darker side of Edinburgh in his crime novels - cheerily grabbed a torch and carried on with the business of handing out the UK's oldest literary prize to Irish author Sebastian Barry.
The Usher Hall suffered a similar power cut on its opening weekend of the International festival - leading to many jokes about the aptness of this year's theme of Enlightenment.
Australian director Jonathan Mills in provocative mood opened this year's programme with Judas Maccabeus, Handel's thinly disguised tribute to the Duke of Cumberland's quelling of the Jacobite rebellion.
If there was any bad feeling, it didn't show on opening night, when a capacity audience took their seats for the performance - including a rousing rendition of See the Conquering Hero Comes.
It wasn't just the adults who got their fill of culture.
For children, there was a stronger programme than ever.
There were celebrities here too - like Andy from CBeebies who as every child under five will tell you, doesn't require a second name because he's so famous.
And for the mums and dads, there was a children's presenter of an earlier era - Peter Duncan - who in classic children's TV style, set about turning a corner of the Pleasance into a Blue Peter garden using just stones, water and vast amounts of sticky backed plastic.
There was conventional puppetry - like the wonderful staging of Rapunzel at the Scottish Storytelling Centre - but surreal performances too - like a Korean show entirely about dog poo.
The moral of the Dandelion Story seems to be that every substance has a purpose.
My son, who's sitting in the front row eating his ham sandwiches between guffaws seems to get the message - although it's clear that dancing dog poo is still an acquired taste for anyone over the age of five.
There are plenty of ups and downs in the world of comedy.
For Eddie Izzard, quite literally as he continues his series of marathons around the UK with a sprint up Arthur's Seat.
A veteran of more than 12 festivals, he admits he'd rather endure the physical toil of a thousand miles of running, than the mental anguish of a bad review at the festival.
No bad reviews for up and coming comic Tom Wrigglesworth, who not only got a show from a bad experience but by touring it, has managed to change the law.
The comedian was arrested on a Virgin train last year after having a whip-round for an old lady who'd been charged £115 for having the wrong ticket.
His tale of an entire train full of passengers standing up Spartacus-style to stop him being arrested was both comic and heart-warming and has genuinely brought about a change in ticket policy.
Something few comedy shows must be able to claim.
Equally uplifting is the Soweto Gospel choir - who admitted that this is likely to be their last Fringe run due to international touring commitments.
Not bad for a group who got their first big break in Edinburgh in 2003 playing the classic venue of a church hall - and are now barely able to contain an audience in one of the festival's biggest venues.
Truly the dream of most performers at the fringe.
And after three and a half weeks, that dream is over.
The temporary venues are dismantled, returning to more mundane business.
The posters are peeled off, the streets cleared of performers.
And the good news is that neither the recession nor problems with last year's box office have knocked the Fringe off its stride.
Sales are up by 21% - back to the steady climb of the last decade.
Just the International festival remains - and that draws to a close on Sunday night with the customary oohs and ahhs of the fireworks concert.
After that there'll be no symphonies performed on workmen's tools, or bar-room brawls staged in real bar-rooms.
Or full scale giraffes striding down the Royal Mile.
Or crockery rattling nightly as tornados swoop over the Royal Mile to the tattoo.
After that, it's all over. At least until next year.