Oh, yeah, so you know that thing I was doing? Oh, yeah, it totally ended. It, like, totally ended like DAYS ago. And it has been, like, LITERALLY, days since I wrote last and there is way too much to catch you up on, but, oh, I guess I’ll try anyway, I suppose.
I don’t even remember. It was 10 days ago that I last wrote to you. 10 days! That was forever ago! Oh, god, I’m losing the last days of my twenties again because I can’t even remember anything at all (maybe its the Rose I’m drinking).
I must have gone to work that night. I must have seen some shows. I don’t remember what they were. I think this was possibly the day I completely freaked out, realising that the fringe was ending in a week and I still had approximately 2580 shows to see. So, I sat down and booked 10 of them. Oh! I remember! I saw a play on a mini-bus! That was fun. It was written & performed by a man I once asked to mentor me (he said yes, but the funding body said no, so that all went down the drain), but I had never met him, nor seen any of his plays (possibly a strange choice of mentor, but let’s just leave that aside). Anyway, it was lovely, lots of fun and I was surprised how different he was able to make the space in the mini-bus considering there were very few places he could tell his story from. But, he came in and out of doors, got us to unfold maps, making the space smaller, sat at the front like a bus driver and it was all very entertaining and interesting. I had dinner that night with a mutual friend who I was putting up on my spare mattress for a few nights and then headed to work.
I don’t remember what the show was like. I think it was good. I don’t know. I saw some more shows that afternoon. Yes, actually, yes I did! I saw 4 shows in one afternoon! I was going to see 5 but decided against it. I know 4 isn’t much considering I had done that previously, but it seemed like a lot after a weekend of working until 5am. I also then went out for dinner with the mutual friend and then on to a staff party. I didn’t get home until 2am which possibly explains…
I got up at a reasonable hour and headed out to flyer. But, when I got to the Royal Mile I realised/decided that I had absolutely no desire to flyer, nor any energy (the alcohol from the night before had sucked it all out of me) and what I would like to do instead, please, was sit in an internet cafe and look at all the people who had won awards for the Edinburgh Fringe. Not in a depressive way – just in an interested way. Possibly a little in a depressive way. I was hung-over. I eventually convinced myself to go flyers, but I handed out about 10 and then watched the street performers instead. I fully expected (and hoped) to have no audience. But, then 3 people turned up and I am nothing if not a professional, so I did the show. They seemed to really enjoy it and I still ended up with 17 pounds in the buckets which is pretty good for an audience of 3. That night I went on a date. Because apparently that is what people do. They meet nice people who invite them on dates and then the other person doesn’t completely freak out but says yes and then you have a nice date. That is what normal, grown-up people do. And I am nothing if not a normal, grown-up human being.
I did neglect to tell you that I think the only possible reason I was able to go on this date was because he was moving to Malaysia 6 days later. No pressure! No possibility or threat of any serious commitment whatsoever! Yes, that is the date for me!
So, not entirely normal and grown-up, but let’s just be grateful for the baby steps, shall we?
I don’t know what happened Wednesday to be honest with you. I think I probably saw some shows at the Forest Fringe, which is one of the more exciting programs at the Edinburgh Fringe (and all free too, so you can’t go wrong with that!) I think I also went back to the Hunt and Darton cafe, because I was determined to get my 5 pineapple stamps and be rewarded with my ‘loyal’ badge (its a long story – the Hunt and Darton cafe is a pop-up performance art cafe. So everything is slightly kooky. And wonderful, of course). I saw more shows in the evening, of course. I think it was mainly free comedy shows, though, so that makes a difference.
Oh god, oh god, I don’t know, I don’t know. Maybe the show wasn’t good on Thursday? I can’t remember anymore. Some days shows and audiences were good, other days they weren’t so much. I had a group of lovely young-ish girls come in (actually, it might have been Thursday) and they just loved the show and I thought, damn! Perhaps I have completely missed my demographic! The people I should have been flyering was exclusively 15 – 20 year old women! I had two similarly aged girls come and see the show on Saturday as well and they had a similar positive reaction, only adding more fuel to the theory.
The thing I can tell you about the show on Friday is that it was the second-last one. No, no, that’s not fair. It was a lovely show with a lovely large audience. But it was also the second-last one. Which is pretty much all I was focusing on at the time. I went out for coffee with my friend and her boyfriend and her mother afterwards (they had all, bless them, come to see the show that day) and that was lovely. I saw more shows that afternoon. Because that’s pretty much all I did in the last week. Nothing exciting, no terrible emotional breakdowns or amazing reviews, just get up, flyer, do show, see other shows, eat a bit, go to bed. I really got into a mechanical rhythm of it all. Don’t get me wrong – I was loving it (at least, I was loving the afternoon), but all the days have kind of melded into one now.
THE LAST DAY THE LAST DAY THE LAST DAY. You must think I was hating everything because I am/was so delighted to finish. It’s not that at all. Of all the solo shows I’ve done this was the most satisfying. The people who came and saw it were, on the whole, people who didn’t know me. People who had taken a chance because of a review, a flyer, a blurb in the fringe guide. And I was, on the whole, able to entertain and move them. I think one of the things that I have been most conscious about over the last few years is that my audience tended to be my friends and family, or if not MY friends and family, at least the other people involved’s friends and family. I’m not saying I’m ungrateful for their support, I’m just saying it kind of felt like an extended, more complex and more expensive version of the plays I used to put on for my parents in our living room. There was also a slightly evil, slightly hidden thought that the only reason people were laughing or enjoying the shows I had put on previously were because they knew me and liked/loved me already and were seeing the shows through that bias. So, the point is, to be able to put something on in Edinburgh, get audiences in that were mostly strangers, have them enjoy it – that was a major confidence boost.
That said, though, it was also bloody exhausting. Especially doing it on my own. It wasn’t nearly as terrifying and disheartening as I had been told it would be (probably because I was part of the free fringe and probably also because I wasn’t expecting to become a star or an overnight success), but it was bloody exhausting. Even though I knew I was going to be very sad when it all ended, I was also very much looking forward to it all ending and spending a few days curled up in bed with some books, DVD’s and excellent (terrible) food.
That afternoon I packed up all my stuff and said good-bye to the staff of La Tasca for the last time. I took a taxi back to my apartment and then headed to the Hunt and Darton cafe again (one stamp away from becoming loyal!) for some celebratory crumpets. They came with a tray of spreads so extensive I was forced to cut the the crumpets into tiny pieces just so I could try a little of everything. It was very much worth it. It was also one of the funnest times I’d had at the cafe – it was ‘community’ themed so we all had to sit at long tables, meaning I had to chat to the lovely ladies next to me; Hunt and Darton now knew my name and welcomed me back very warmly; and the guest waiter was particularly amusing (he held a community raffle in which you could win tinned mince meat, tinned haggis or banana custard and had mini-Jaws performances on the tables and sold ‘smells’ as part of the cafe menu. It was hilarious).
That night was work, but knowing I didn’t have to get up and flyer in the morning made it all the more bearable.
I knew intellectually that I didn’t have to get up and flyer but my body was so used to waking up at 9:30am that I woke up anyway feeling very anxious and guilty for still being in bed. I eventually calmed myself enough to go back to sleep, but it wasn’t easy. Then there was a glorious afternoon of shows and one last visit to the Hunt and Darton cafe, where it was Christmas! Because it was the last day! I had a three-tiered roast dinner sandwich and got to wear a sign on my head saying ‘Baby Jesus’. We had entertainment from the hilariously bizarre Catherine Bennett (a performance project by artist Bryony Kimmings), who taught us a song and dance routine and I fell in love with a bearded man dressed in 1970s clothes who held my hand as we danced. No, I don’t know his name or who he was. I still love him. That night was my last Hot Dub Time Machine shift. I had become known as a hard-arse (can you believe it? ) from the managers because I had accidentally bullied the head of production manager out of the front area of the venue – I didn’t recognise him! No-one said anything until I had completely shooed him away from the front door! – but they all (including him) found it very amusing. I also gained a reputation for being the fastest/best wrist-stamper, which is not a skill I had ever thought of coveting, but now that it has been recognised in me I will wear the badge with pride. Now, if only I could work out how to make large sums of money with this skill.
I had expected to be working on Monday, helping with the get-out etc. But it turned out there were still shows going on, so I had a lazy lie-in, got up around 1:30pm, headed to a show, then read in the sun, had lunch with a friend, went to another show and then drank ciders all evening with another friend. It was a very aimless, lazy, lovely day, though also a little melancholy, because suddenly the streets of Edinburgh were empty. Disconcertingly, surprisingly, immediately empty. Apparently everyone else at the festival couldn’t wait to get away. I had wanted to hang around for a few days after, take a break before heading back to London, not rush away from the festival quite so quickly, but now, feeling abandoned by every other festival-goer and participant, I felt that I had possibly made the wrong choice. That night I saw a show at midnight, just to really drag out the fringe as long as possible, and then, at 1:20am on Tuesday the 27th of August, I finally had to admit that it was all, all over.
Today we have been packing up Underbelly. It’s not a very exciting job, it’s not a very happy job, but someone has to do it. Tomorrow night is the staff party and, really, I should have been asleep half an hour ago. But, hey, I love you guys so much I though I should update you all before I forgot absolutely everything about everything. Also, I lost 10 pounds on the way to get a deep-fried Mars bar tonight, so that has totally ruined my mood and all I really wanted to write about tonight was that. Not that I had much mood to ruin before that, but still. How do you lose 10 pounds? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. The chip shop man saw how upset I was and he gave me a 50p discount on my friend Mars bar, which was pretty nice. Though, I have to say that after however many years of trying to buy a deep-fried Mars bar, it wasn’t all that tasty or great. It was, actually, kind of gross. Even if it was 50p cheaper than normal. Boo.
And that is the end of my Edinburgh Fringe – a disappointing deep-fried Mars Bar and a lost 10 pound note.
No, no, of course it isn’t. This is just the weird hang-over, morning after the night before. My Edinburgh Fringe really ended yesterday evening, in the front row of at a midnight show, giggling with two friends after many ciders in the sun. That was the end of Edinburgh and that is how I will choose to remember it, because, goddamn, if I didn’t have an amazing, amazing time. Thanks Edinburgh, thanks for all the wonderful memories and confidence and challenges and lessons and inspirations and let’s all do it again next year, ok?