I am in Edinburgh. I can tell this for sure because, in spite of the heat wave currently gripping the South, the skies here are leaden and the winds brisk. Rain is forecast.
Instantly I realise I have packed all the wrong clothes. Why oh why did I reject the snuggly jumper in favour of a thin, long sleeved T shirt? What kind of fool imagines Edinburgh during the Fringe could ever be consistently warm and dry?
So, with the grey skies at my back I write this brief insight into my first few days as a first time participant in the Fringe.
Our journey here was uneventful. The car packed to the gunnels, I sat on the back seat between the dog’s bed and a box containing an amp, a microphone and a selection of cables. The dog (happily dosed to the eyeballs with anti-nausea drugs) eschewed the bed and sat on me. For seven and a half hours.
It was the first time I’ve spent any time on the M6. A triumph if you’re actually moving, I’m told. We did move, but oh God, so very slowly.
Eventually we arrived at the Travel Lodge, Todshill Services, Carlisle where we felt like kings. For we were actually getting out of our vehicles and availing ourselves of the pet friendly accommodation within, unlike most of the other folk who rocked up and slept in their trucks.
As kings of the budget hotel we awoke and made our final onward journey to the Air BnB accommodation which is our home for the next three weeks.
A lovely family, off to visit relatives in Canada for the month. We are their first tenants. They have drawn up some guidance about the house and left us with an open invitation to eat the almond butter they made at the weekend.
I notice a selection of plants on the window sill. I’m gripped with fear. We will have to keep these alive somehow. But my history with pot plants is poor. One of the plants is a goddamn orchid. I can’t enumerate how many of those I’ve killed off. Another is their three year old daughter’s sunflower. The pressure is almost too much to bear. The other thing has Jurassic looking roots and probably eats meat.
But I shrug off these anxieties for I have other, more pressing things to concern myself with. A show!
My show is at The Counting House. It’s a lovely venue, with a selection of well set up performance spaces. Mine is one of the smaller ones, accommodating around 35, should that many people find their way to me in this ocean of show choices. It’s right at the top.
It’s very warm. We have a selection of fans and air conditioning units dotted around the room. Actually, it’s probably better that the heat wave doesn’t reach this far.
The opening show I’ll be honest, was rather disappointing. Ten people in and not a lot of energy in the room. We got through it together. A few laughs. A few stony faces. Just £14 in the bucket at the end.
I know the theory. Some audiences are harder to please than others. Comedy is subjective, you won’t hit the mark every time. The journey on the bus back to the potted plants was quiet and contemplative.
I decided I wouldn’t call up the friends I know will reassure me the show is great. I will not be that needy. I decided I would wait and see how the next audience found it.
And that’s how I know I’m in Executive Youth. My own counsel was good.
Saturday night’s audience loved it. Heaps of laughs, some good-natured banter and loads of cash in my bucket.
The same on Sunday! With added audience numbers and a couple of old pals in the cheap seats.
Monday is ‘meh’ but Tuesday is nearly full and hugely fun.
I am restored. I know the next eighteen performances will all be different. The laughs will come in different places or they may not come at all. I am prepared.