Tag Archives: Edinburgh

Dear Scotland

The River Ness. If I were that way inclined, I would say
The River Ness. If I were that way inclined, I would say “#nofilter”, but that makes me feel a bit sick

Dear Scotland,

I love you.  You know that, don’t you?  I always have.  Ever since we first met, on a windswept and sulk-filled family holiday in 1999, you have amazed me.

I learned to ride my bike that year, do you remember?  My parents dragged the family up to a self-catered cottage for the Autumn half-term holiday.  It was a ramshackle building in the middle of a country estate, and an outlandish decision that baffled all of us at the time.  It was cold and miserable and the sheep had worryingly intelligent eyes, and I remember all of us desperately trying to find stuff to do.  I was ten years old, and I’d never learned to ride a bike.  You gave me the opportunity.

My hands kept going numb – either because I was cold, or because I thought that having a vice-like grip on the handlebars would help – and I was scared.  Every time I fell off, crashed into a tree or scraped my hands on the stones, I got back up and looked down the track.  I thought that stretch of road would go on forever.  There was always more space for me to practise.  I could learn; I could get better.  And I did.

You bring out that side of me, you see.  The hard-working, screw-you-adversity, I-am-the-master-of-my-fate side.  Remember the first time I did the Edinburgh Fringe?  Wowee.  What a hectic month that was.  You gave me an enormous challenge and I rose to it, because I knew you were worth the effort.  Every year since then, the Fringe has been a welcome whirlwind, and every year I take away something new.  Hey – remember last year when I fell in love with climbing after going up Arthur’s Seat?  Bizarre, wasn’t it?  But that’s why we work so well: you can always surprise me.

Besides, you always seem to know what’s best for me.  For example, the complete lack of phone signal makes me appreciate my surroundings, which is great when I’m visiting my friends in Inverness.  Instead of worrying about emails and bills and responsibilities in London, I get to relax and spend time with some of my favourite people on the planet.  This weekend was great, by the way.  Thanks for being so sunny and gorgeous.

I wish that we could spend more time together, but despite how much fun we always have, I’ve got to stick with London.  At least for now.  But thank you for always being there for me.  Thank you for being such a great home for my little brother and sister.  Thank you for being unapologetic, full of bizarre people, chilly, beautiful and – unlike everywhere within spitting distance of London – reasonably priced.

Love,

Vicki

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Forget it, Jake. It’s Edinburgh.

Happy Sunday!  Shall we have a roast?  I’ll do the spuds if you don’t mind chopping the other veg.  Ok?  Great.

Today I would like to tell you, fabulous reader of mine, about mental health at the Fringe.  If living in London can be compared with being in a bad relationship, doing the Edinburgh Fringe is like having an affair with the Marquis de Sade.

It’s incredible.  The noise, the people, the flyers, the weather: everything about this festival conspires to give you a complete sensory overload.  The Fringe is very good at casually sauntering up to you and nicking the things you hold most dear, like time with loved ones, decent sleep and a sense of reality.  And yet we love it.

I really do love it, by the way. I know I sound a bit overwhelmed (blame the lack of sleep), but this is my favourite time of year.  It’s something that my cast and I have been working towards for about seven months, and we are determined to enjoy the hell out of it.

The thing about doing the Fringe a few years in a row is that you can usually track your progress.  For lots of people this is in terms of their career: my gorgeous comedian friend Laura Lexx has posters EVERYWHERE this year, which is good because she has an excellent face and an even better show – but personally I’ve noticed more progress in terms of my mental health.

Looking after yourself in Edinburgh should be very simple: eat well, get enough sleep, drink water, exercise, try not to stack it on the cobbled streets.  These all sound very straightforward, and hopefully they are also rules which we apply to our general lives.  But trying to preserve your sanity at the Fringe is akin to balancing a sea lion on a chopstick, so it’s important to learn lessons early and stick to them.  Here are a few of mine:

  1. Exercise.  I’ve been to the gym most mornings since we got here, and at the Fringe most people choose to walk everywhere rather than worry too much about buses.  I cannot tell you how much of a difference it makes to get a few endorphins going through your system before you tackle flyering on the Royal Mile.  (Plus, if you time it right, you might get to overhear some excellent conversations in the changing room at the gym.  The other day I was in there when a group of old ladies had just come out of an aerobics class, and the lewd comments they were making about their male instructor were beautiful to hear.)
  2. Sleep.  I’ve only had one “oh my God when did it become 5am and why is the sun up?” night since I got here, which is definitely for the best.  Last year I wasn’t so much burning the candle at both ends as setting fire to the candle factory, and I can already feel the difference this year.  It’s always tempting to stay out for one more drink or a bit more chat, but the same lovely people you’re talking to will be here tomorrow.  Go to bed.
  3. Eyes and ears.  There’s a weird phenomenon at this festival called “Fringe eyes”, which is when you’re talking to someone and they start to look past you, just in case someone famous or influential is in the vicinity.  It is the rudest and most irritating thing in the world, and people who do it are to be politely moved away from.  In the same way, if you’re talking to someone about their show, you know that this spiel is rehearsed and has been said a thousand times.  Ask questions about the rehearsal process, or where the idea came from.  Listen to the answers.  Treating flyerers and performers like human beings is weirdly rare up here, and they’ll remember you for it.

    004
    My producer Kate Goodfellow with one of our lovely posters. We were on our way home from the gym, actually. That’s fitting.
  4. Passing Ships.  You will see lots of people you know here: ex-colleagues, very old friends, intimidatingly famous people and that girl who was in that show last year with thingummy-jig, what’s her name again?  Amy?  Alice?  Something like that.  Can’t remember.  Text whatshisname and ask him.  It can be frustrating to only see these people in passing, but the trick is to realise that the month is intense for everybody, and most of us are perpetually late for a show.  Don’t take it personally if your oldest friend is a bit difficult to get hold of, or the person you’re madly in love with is never at the same bars as you.  A month is a decent amount of time to catch up, network, flirt and generally converse.
  5. Treat yourself.  Your mind, body and emotional well-being can take an absolute hammering at the Fringe.  Be nice to yourself.  You’re working hard and you deserve to be proud of your work.  Make the most of your time off, see some shows that interest you and for the love of all that’s good and holy make sure you do something that has nothing to do with the Fringe.  Edinburgh has a lot to offer; climb a hill, jump in the sea, visit the Royal Botanic Gardens and go to the zoo.  The Fringe is only one tiny aspect of an incredible city.  (My main non-Fringe activity is going to be getting a tattoo with my friend next week, but by all means you can go for something less extreme.)

Whether you’re at the Fringe or not, have a smashing day.  I’ll start peeling the potatoes.

Villains and Heroes

batman-robin

Good morning, you marvellous creature.  How’s your Friday going?  

Our society is obsessed with the concepts of heroism and villainy.  Specifically in terms of celebrity culture, we like to be told who to admire and who to abhor.  I have a massive problem with celebrity culture in general, because I think that it’s pointless at best and incredibly offensive at worst to speculate on the lives of people we’ll never know.  It makes far more sense to look closer to home to find things that we can aspire to or avoid, and to surround ourselves with people who make our heroes list.  Here are a few examples of the goodies and baddies we are most likely to come across in life:

Villains

  • The git who doesn’t give up their seat for a pregnant woman on public transport.  How is that even a thing that happens?  It’s ludicrous.
  • The person who doesn’t care who they hurt.  I’ve known a guy to cheat on one of my closest friends with one of my other closest friends, and the audacity of that still makes me livid, even years later.  Seriously, don’t poo where you eat.  Or where you socialise, I guess.  In fact, pooing anywhere other than the traditionally designated facilities is just not cool.
  • The person who never says please or thank you.  That drives me up the flipping wall.  Someone bring me a stepladder, please; my rage is preventing me from getting back down to the floor.
  • The person who just doesn’t give a flying fig about you.  Why do we put up with people who never listen to what we say, ask us questions about ourselves or show any concern for our welfare?  This covers a whole spectrum of asshats from story-toppers to emotionally abusive partners.  People who only want you around as an audience do not deserve you.  You are not just a spectator.
  • The moron who likes to shit-stir.  Why would anyone get a kick out of inventing harmful computer viruses, upsetting their friends or creating vicious rumours?  I don’t understand.  Incidental Schadenfreude is one thing, but intentionally creating distress for absolutely no reason is just evil.  Villainous, you might say.

Heroes

  • Single parents.  Those guys are hands down the bravest, most hard-working and incredible people we will ever meet.  Whenever I get depressed about my responsibilities and worries I think about how much my single parent friends have to deal with, and feel a bit ashamed of myself.
  • People who fight their fears.  Like lots of people, my way of dealing with stuff that I’m afraid of is to simply run away from it and refuse to fix the issue.  When I climbed Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh I went with a friend who, as far as I knew, simply loved climbing and always had.  However, I found out that he only took up climbing to confront his fear of heights, which is pretty incredible to me.  People who can challenge themselves like that are definitely to be respected.
  • People who always care.  One of my friends is the loveliest, gentlest and most compassionate person I know.  She also has absolutely no luck when it comes to health and family problems, but that never stops her from caring about what’s going on with me.  Isn’t it amazing to have someone in your life who doesn’t let their problems prevent them from loving you?
  • People who pursue their passion.  A lot of my friends are creative types, and I am bowled over every day by how hard they work and how much they sacrifice in order to achieve their dreams.
  • People who can get over a heartbreak.  If you’ve ever had your heart broken and have recovered from it, you are an undisputed hero.  Go get yourself a cape.

Have a brilliant weekend.

Anecdotally Speaking

anecdote

Hello, dear reader!  How are you?

After four and a half very giggly/sleepy/coffee-y hours on a train, yesterday afternoon found myself and most of the Empty Photo lot staggering into the Edinburgh sunshine.  Yesterday evening found us at Parlour Tricks, which was wonderful, and yesterday night found us drinking at the Three Sisters.  

This morning (which will surprise absolutely no one, I’m sure) finds me feeling a little worse for wear and vaguely ashamed of myself for having become a bit weepy whilst under the influence.  (Having said that, Harry just had to lean his head on the counter top while he emptied out the cafetière, so things could definitely be worse.)  

Having been at the Fringe for a mere twenty-two hours at this stage, we have already racked up a fairly respectable number of anecdotes and amusing incidents (which I’m sure Ash will be delighted to hear when she joins us tomorrow), and doubtless more will follow.  Anecdotes are a bit of a weird one, because a lot of them fall under the heading “you had to be there”, but the ones that are universally funny can bring a lot of joy.

I am wary of writing blog posts while I’m in Edinburgh, not because I won’t have very much free time, but because I don’t want to bore you, dear and gorgeous reader, with “oh my God the Fringe is so awesome look how much hilarious fun I’m having at an event which you either don’t care about or couldn’t make it to, depending on who is reading this” entries.  I don’t want to bore or alienate anyone, so I will do my best to keep these posts interesting and about all manner of topics.

I will also make sure to tell you all of the funniest anecdotes.  Coming soon: the time I thought I was going to be murdered and chopped up into tiny pieces at a review briefing.  (It is funny, I promise.)

Have an incredibly productive Thursday.