Writings

Viva Edinburgh Fringe (08 January 2018)

Advice to a Brighton-based friend of mine about to make her first visit to Edinburgh

Get lots of sleep before you go. Just like when you’re pregnant and people tell you to sleep then and you think, yeah yeah whatever. They’re right.

The weather is variable. Summer 2018 is proving a bit of a blinder, but it can TURN! There was one year when I wished I’d brought gloves. Lots of layers, a waterproof and sturdy shoes for negotiating the cobbled steep streets. You’ll probably end up walking most places.

You’ll spend more than you think. Arrange a loan or overdraft now.

You can drink 24/7 and the majority do. Take painkillers and vitamins to make up for the fruit and veg you won’t eat.

If you spent every minute watching a show, you’d only see a tiny amount of what there is on offer. That can be overwhelming. I’d suggest Googling anyone you would like to see perform, for they will undoubtedly be up there and make a note of the details. The big names will sell out. The unknowns will not.

Shows can be very pricey and not always worth it. There is an Edinburgh ennui feeling of having wasted time and money when there were literally thousands of other things you could have done. There’s now quite an established ‘Free Fringe’ of comedy shows in pubs.

The Pleasance courtyard is a good place to hang out and people spot. A lot of big names do their shows there. The Assembly Rooms or Traverse are more civilised and cultured places to hang out.

The Royal Mile – where the bulk of the flyering takes place – is like a bazaar in Marrakech. Packed to the gunnels with desperate performers doing bits of their shows, flyers literally everywhere. It makes the Brighton Fringe City look like Playschool. However, like Brighton, there are quite a few areas in the city that don’t give a monkey’s fart about the Fringe. Princes St, one of the main shopping areas, is blessedly Fringe free. The main art gallery is great.

If you fancy a bracing walk, go up Arthur’s Seat. Don’t go when pissed or hungover – parts are quite steep and you might fall off!

The atmosphere is hard to sum up, but the closest thing I can think of is Freshers Week. Imagine thousands of performers, released from the manacles of home and boy/girlfriends – OFF THE LEASH! There’s also large troupes of American students doing musicals, who tend to dominate the streets with costumes and unwelcome warbling.

It is bold, bruising, hilarious. I laughed and cried more there than anywhere else. Dreams are made and shattered. Famous people are everywhere, which means a frenzied excitement all the time.

What happens in Edinburgh, stays in Edinburgh.

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