EdFringe 2017: Friday & Saturday

On Friday morning, with no food or drink in the room, I set out for my first show. The only reason I could do this without some form of breakfast is that it was Shakespeare For Breakfast, where they do an hour-long absurd versio of a Shakespeare play and also provide you with a croissant and coffee/tea/orange juice. They’re not the best croissants in the world but I’ve done this show twice before and I was prepared – remember the jam I requested yesterday but didn’t eat? I used it for my croissant and very good it was too. I’ve previously seen The Taming of the Shrew with the Middletons and Hamlet as a ridiculous drama student. This year was Mac-Gary as an allotment society where one of the cast died dramatically backstage every time someone said Mac-Gary.

I went shopping afterwards, just some basics to survive the Fringe, pretty much all of which I proceeded to eat by the end of Friday, so that was good.

I met Tom up by the castle (eventually) afterwards and we roamed Edinburgh a bit. We spied a poster on the wall at the bottom of the Underbelly so we went in to see Quarter Life Crisis and then we roamed a bit more before separating for our late afternoon/evening shows – Tiff Stevenson, Ed Byrne and Andrew Maxwell for me. The George Square Theatre has the most comfortable seats in the entire city and I was very happy to sit in them for two hours in a row.

We met again afterwards and went looking for a relatively quiet pub – Edinburgh is never quiet in August and particularly not on a Friday night. We ended up at the Counting House, where there was live music (good guitar, bad singing) and a pair of real life DC supervillains sitting at the end of our table.

On Saturday, we went to see Janey Godley’s podcast live. That’s right on the other side of Edinburgh from where I’d been so far, so we ambled over quite early, had brunch (cheese toastie done right – neither soft nor burnt and with yellow cheese, not orange) before we went over to the theatre. This one was unusual – Janey Godley and Ashley Storrie were already on stage when the doors opened and they kept up a “preamble” for twenty minutes before the show began, chatting together, assigning random names to the audience as they came in, reassuring them that the show’s no started yet. I’ve never seen a podcast recorded – don’t know what I was expecting really but I enjoyed it a lot.

We headed back to the Royal Mile afterwards to find the Wyrd Shop. The sky was looking threatening and we were ready to dive inside the nearest shop, cafe or pub at any second to take shelter. But all it did for a while was continue to threaten without actually doing anything so we went into the Cocktail Festival, which did have cocktails but mostly had stalls and food stands. It was just a bit too early to eat again so we hopped round the corner home for a half hour phone charging break (my phone went from 100% battery to too flat to switch on within five hours!) before goingout for food. I got a cheese panini from the nice cafe on the corner and Tom got crab bite things which didn’t taste as good as they looked (or indeed contain as much crab as they claimed to).

We parted ways again, me for Nick Doody and BBC Presents and Tom for whatever was interesting and available at the Pleasance, before the Pleasance got evacuated and he gave up and came home.

When I got back, we went out for another drink, this time back at “our pub”, Holyrood 9A, just down on the corner below us.

I’m sure the entire population of Edinburgh didn’t roll a suitcase over the metal walkway above my room in the middle of the night but it sounded like it. People are apparently still arriving with their luggage at 3am and people start leaving with theirs at about the same time so these wheels are rumbling and crashing over the metal all night long. You get maybe fifteen seconds between them and then you start wondering if you can run outside in the middle of the night to shriek at the latest one. And every single door in the entire building slams. I’m so glad I wasn’t a student here and I’m never staying here again.

EdFringe 2017: Thursday

On Thursday I got up at half past four in the morning, finished packing, drove to Southampton, had breakfast (“would you like jam or marmalade with your toast?” I took the jam but not for the toast) and then looked at my watch and found I still had nearly two and a half hours before my plane departed.

I did not actually need to get up at 4.30am.

I got to Edinburgh, took the tram into the city centre, ignored the weird man sitting at the front narrating the journey (I wasn’t the only one who thought he was weird; a woman got on at the second stop and sat next to him and then moved at the third stop, pulling faces in my direction about him and then the ticket collector came up the front to talk to his friend sitting there about how weird he is and what a regular he is) and walked down to the hostel. Only it was full of construction vans and men and tools and planks. I was utterly bewildered. Was the place closed? Had I missed an email? Was I homeless for the next six days? Then I spied the hostel reception on the other side of the road, where it definitely wasn’t last time I stayed. I went in. They told me I was at their other hostel, ten minutes away. After walking halfway across Edinburgh with a bag that Julie Airlines wouldn’t have allowed as hand luggage but Flybe do, I didn’t want to go another ten minutes. I’d planned for being right here by Cowgate.

The other hostel isn’t so bad. It’s by the Pleasance Courtyard and its two main problems are that I can never figure out which key opens which door and that the metal walkways that join the building to the courtyard literally make a noise like a bomb going off if someone wheels a suitcase across them at night.

I went off into Edinburgh with my luggage stored safely behind reception, 11am being far too early to check in. I collected my tickets, had a good look around, reminded myself how the streets and bridges and everything works and then went to find something to watch while I waited for Tom to arrive.

I was given a flyer by Jaz Watts and I planned to go and watch that but when I got there, two queues of people turned up, looked at the room, decided it was too small and ran away and I’m not brave enough to be the only audient so I also ran away.

I sat in the Cowshed, on a pile of straw, and watched a nice man called Liam singing for a while. I sat in Princes Street Gardens and read for a while. I sat in the station and read for a while. Because of a broken-down freight train, the Manchester Airport and Euston trains were delayed and Tom finally turned up nearly an hour late. We went back to the hostel, checked in and then went out into Edinburgh.

We started with food just off the Royal Mile (cheesey garlic bread & penne a la chef) and then went up the Royal Mile, with a soundtrack of “what’s that?” “let’s stop and listen to this”, “what’s down here?” “ooh, whiskey!” and so on, made our way up to the Assembly Hall and crossed Princes Street Gardens by the Mound, stopping outside the Half Price Hut for ginger cider and to watch a busker called Alx Green (I think it was Green. It definitely Alx). Then I left Tom to head up to Rose Street to see Jay Lafferty while I went on to the EICC for the Barnardo’s fundraiser – lineup Tom Lucy, Katy Brand, The Boy With Tape On His Face, Sara Pascoe, Patrick Monahan, Jo Caulfield, Ed Byrne and Milton Jones – quite a lot of my favourites and why have I never seen The Boy With Tape On His Face before???

When it finished, I went over to the Gilded Balloon to meet Tom, who had just seen and very much enjoyed Scott Agnew and was getting a cheese toastie and we went in search of cider, which we found at Holyrood 9A, just round the corner from home.

And that was it for the day – 20 hours, 28,000 steps, no phone battery left and multiple sore patches on my feet