Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Mummy went to Edinburgh Fringe!

First things to point out about Edinburgh, the city:

1. It is cold. Even in August. It makes returning to London feel like arriving on a Greek island.

2. Lots of big old dirty buildings. All historic and what not.

3. Everyone says thank you to the bus driver.

Things to point out about holidaying without the Boo:

1. Just because the Boo isn't there doesn't mean it's a holiday. I am still owed a beach, ok.

2. It's not a good idea to look at too many photos of the Boo, or peruse the children's section of the programme, coz then the missing her gets worse.

3. Being myself without her is actually quite exhausting. I become possessed by the freedom, try to achieve too much and end up feeling sick. Like when I commute to work and become a mess of spotify, kindle, podcasts and snacks. I want it all. Combine this feeling with being at the biggest most super amazing theatre and comedy festival, with hundreds of routes to fun and laughs. My obsessiveness was annoying even myself.

4. On the plus side I abandoned all of my sense of direction and allowed R to guide me through the city. This was basically the blind leading the blind, because it's normally me who does all the concentrating on what's going on and where we are meant to be going. So while my feet were exhausted from all the excess walking in wrong directions, my mind was all floaty light.

How to accomodate oneself in Edinburgh

1. Sleeping and showering. Best done at the home of a relative, or boyfriend's relative. Even better done when the relatives are super amazing people with super cute cats. It's free, and then you can go shopping for thank you cards and candles, always a fun thing to do.

2. Or I dunno, rent something somewhere at an extortionately high price. This is the thing that performers bitch about the most, and rightly so. I feel pretty bad for them. Most of them have to put on a free show, they spend a fortune hiring venues and somewhere to sleep, they almost never break even, I'm not really sure why they bother. Except that they clearly really love what they do. Which brings me to my next point...

How to decide what shows to see:

1. For the locals it's a more free-flowing experience. They're not riding the same high of obsessiveness that I was. The ones I spoke to mainly go to the free shows, or hang around outside of venues, knowing that in a last minute bid to fill seats, a desperate promoter will offer them free tickets. They're also around longer to read the reviews and get recommendations.

2. Read the reviews. This doesn't work if you arrive on the opening weekend, like we did.

3. So I made my own judgements based on the tiny blurb and photo in the programme. It's amazing how brutally satisfying that can be.

4. Add the shows that you want to see to the Fringe App calendar. But then you realise how hard it is to keep to a schedule, or to squeeze in more that 3 shows a day when your other half is on a perpetual mission to find the best Scottish breakfast in town. So you end up only using the 'what's on nearby now' feature of the app, which is actually the best feature anyway. So you can peruse that and make a plan to actually see something, anything, nearby, while boyf is deliberating on the quality of his haggis.

5. If worse comes to worse you could just take one of the one million flyers that are enthusiastically shoved in your face at every third step. You could take it and read it and go to the show that it advertises. Or you could take it out of politeness, shove it in your poncho pocket, and recycle it when you get home three days later.

We only saw theatre and comedy. Apparently there's other stuff too like dance and music and film. But they're generally more expensive and less funny. We wanted the funny. So these are the shows that we actually did see, with a quick summary of their merits.

Richard Herring: the famous one. Stewart Lee was sold out so this was the next best thing. He's a bouncy guy with a passion for sombreros and feminism. What's not to love?

Bec Hill: Sweet Australian girl with a talent for pop up, interactive illustrations. A lot less pretentious and more fun than that sounds.

Rob Deb: My boyfriends friend. Actually quite funny, even if you're not an overgrown geeky teenager, wishing for the freedom to steal kettle leads.

Beans on Toast: A naive but still very likeable play about the intimate everyday ness of a relationship. Think musical version of One Day. Possibly owning the best theatrical msn chat scene ever. 

Normal/madness: The one where I cried. 11am is just too early to delve into the realities of having a parent with schizophrenia. This was beautifully crafted theatre and storytelling.

Charles Booth: Sketch comedy of insanely strange and detailed characters. Maxwell was my fave. Definitely the most talented actor of our whole weekend, likely to be going places that are good.

Birthday Girls: The ones most likely to be seen on TV very soon. Simply put, they are THE female comedy sketch group of the now. Loved the ironic sexy dancing in between sketches.

Sarah Bennetto: Another one of boyfriend's friends. A funeral themed show, which wasn't quite ready yet so we were treated to a funeral workshop/rehearsal. I thought the fart joke worked quite well, and was impressed with the mournful Owen Wilson impression.

The comedy road show type affairs: Saw a couple of these, don't remember many names oops but I did enjoy the Greek lady Katerina with all the hair, the Dutch girl and the friendly ghost, and the guy who wrote the greatest beard justification monologue ever. This guy also does a great, bitter dressing down of the middle class, which I think we all needed, as the Fringe is just one giant bubble of white middle class problems, all shiny and celebrated. I did some research on this guy coz I can't just keep calling him this guy when his set was so good. Phil Jerrod. Thank you internet. 

So we got there, we saw, ate, and walked a lot. We looked forward to our cosy sleeper train bed home again. Except we hadn't realised we needed to specifically book a bed on the sleeper train. Why the hell would you make a train called sleeper if you can't guarantee sleep??!! I am too old to sleep in an upright position then greet my grumpy toddler and then go to work the same day and call it an adventure. I'm done with inter rail and coaches to Poland and self discovery. If I have discovered anything about myself from this trip it is this: I want to be horizontal and on top of something soft between the hours of midnight and 7am. Preferably longer. 

Edinburgh was awesome. Now I refer to my earlier point, I need a holiday.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Holiday! Idiosyncracities of our home

Dear Mum


Thank you so much for looking after the lovely little lady while we run off to Scotland to support the eccentricities of poor starving artists. Here are a few tips and hints for survival in our flat. Good luck!


Gate: To close it from the outside is a bit fiddly and the gate has to be not quite closed completely for the lock to turn!


Front door: Please double lock it,otherwise if we get robbed it invalidates the already slim chance of our insurance company doing what they’re paid to do.

Neighbours: We have nice neighbours. Even though one of them spat on me but that was an accident and we’re friends now. I don’t remember all of their names or which numbers they’re at. I don’t have their phone numbers in case of an emergency. I might be friends with one of them on Twitter though…

TV: Dont watch it live coz we don't own a TV licence. We have Netflix, 4od and iplayer. Hmm, too complicated to explain this all so best to call us for instructions. We keep the bean bag in front of the TV to stop Boo whacking the screen. It is quite effective.

Our Bedroom: We had to take the door handle off when Richard got stuck in there and had to climb out the window! We normally keep Boo out of our room coz there's often too much stuff for her to play with and destroy. Good luck doing that without the handle. The baby monitor is in there, however someone changed it to German and we can’t figure out how to fix it.

Kitchen: keep things away from the edge of the surfaces coz Boo will grab them. Keep the bin turned around coz she will try to get in there! Always use the child locks on the fridge and cupboards! If left alone in the kitchen Boo will most likely do some laundry of bits and bobs that she finds in the flat, this can become annoying if the bits and bobs are your phone and keys, and also annoying because the washing machine cycle lasts for hours, all the settings seem to be the same.


Food: I have left some ‘I can’t remember what’s in this’ moosh, corn on the cobs, savoury muffins, sweet muffins, strawberries in the fridge for Boo. There’s also peas and fish fingers in the freezer, and more moosh and muffins in pots in the freezer. Rotate these items with milk and that is her diet.

Bathroom: the door is very sticky, you need to push the handle down and kick it open. But the door needs to stay closed unless you want to scoop shampoo bottles out of the toilet and wipe shaving foam out of Boo's hairProbably not a good idea to shut the door if you’re in there by yourself and without a phone, as there is no window (see the example listed under ‘Our Bedroom’). There is a child lock on the toilet that we never use. If it ends up being locked by you know who, to open it there are 2 little levers on either side to push up. The hot tap and shower needs to run for quite a while until it gets hot.


Outside: It’s tricky getting the buggy up and down the stairs. We normally leave it outside during the day (unless raining), and bring it in at night, hoping no wild animals made their nest in there. Her red trike is under the black cover, she loves going to the park in it, although she says she can’t reach the pedals so uses the footrests and has a great time. It’s second hand so came with a free rattling sound and a tendency to veer left.


The playgroup – £3 entry, it’s a toddler's dream, lots of fun and with a safe garden, unlike the park playground where toddlers regularly lunge their heads towards the feet of big kids on swings.


Other things: Well obviously the damp and general mouldiness that you already know about. Call me with any questions and for regular updates. I will try a lot harder this weekend to remember where my phone is and to answer it.


Well that was exhausting just to write about. But I’m sure you will have a great time with lots of smiles and cuddles to make up for the frustrating bits!