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.





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