Monday 4th August
After a panicked Sunday evening involving lists, coffee (and a couple of cans of Guinness) I had an early night to prepare myself to the day of travelling ahead. Only to be woken a few hours later by my neighbour returning from the pub and slamming all his doors. I woke up with a readiness that was probably only matched by fresh recruits on night watch in World War 1. Cheers neighbour. Cheers adrenaline. The rest of my night was spent in a paranoid state of alert as my brain decided that it didn’t want to fall completely asleep in case any more loud noises happened. Isn’t the human body wonderful?
The next morning went fairly uneventfully (aside from the rain, the panicked sprint back to the house in case I’d left fridges and windows open and of course my requisite pre-travel bowel trembling fear) and I met Frank at the station in plenty of time to catch the 10:05 train that’d start us on our journey North. The clear highlight of this stage being a small girl who insisted on showing me her pink Minnie Mouse backpack stuffed with assorted childhood wonders (including a goddamn Rock and Roll Maze by Tomy! I was jealous) and telling me all about herself. Her nan was none too impressed, to absorbed in her own book to interact with the girl, but also forbidding her from “bothering other people”. She was an utter delight and cracked me up when I yawned and she gave me a deadpan look and said “It’s been a long day”.
Changing at Crewe (with a slight 20 minute delay) we were on a Virgin train to Edinburgh. Much swankier than Arriva trains are Virgin. Lights. Air conditioning. Little plugs in the seats for phones and laptops. We travelled in style. Accompanied for a period, sadly, by a group of teenagers singing that bloody Frozen song and who all sounded like they were at that awkward “my voice is sort of breaking so I’m just going to be nasal and off-key”. My voice never left that stage sadly. I felt a bit sorry for them. Life must be an eternal disappointment when you expect it to be like Glee.
Much more pleasant was a small child watching Fantastic Mr Fox on a laptop. Thanks to their inability to use headphones (perhaps, like me, they have strangely shaped ears) I was able to hear every word and, drawn by the velvety tones of George Clooney, gleefully peeked over their shoulder to follow the adventures of Mr. Fox and co. Yes. I, Jeremy Linnell, watched a film without purchasing it. Take THAT copyright laws.
So we arrived in Edinburgh. I took charge. This was my home turf. Time to contribute. I knew exactly where the hotel was. I confidently led us through streets. I bravely dodged us around street performers and student productions. I spearheaded the detour in to the Fringe office for a program. I took us to completely the wrong place and we had to phone for help.
Luckily we weren’t too far off and Frank hadn’t yet decided to murder me despite my frequent exclamations of “I remember that!” accompanied by some dull story. Christ I’m turning in to a dad. So we dumped our bags and started pouring over the programs and fliers (which swarm around the weary Edinburgh traveller like flies, but with less malaria) which we’d picked up along the way.
You forget what an absolute overdose of content there is at the Fringe. Around 400 venues, each one showing shows almost constantly. It’s literally impossible to see it all*. With the aid of a printed spreadsheet, some scrap paper and Sarah we started to sort out what we’d like to see and when then headed out for some food. Sarah showed us a place I’d never been to before called The Mosque Kitchen, which did absolutely wonderful, filling, sensory curries for a very reasonable price. The meat was cooked perfectly, flaking apart and tender, the spice at the level where it complements the flavours and doesn’t overpower and the rice was light, fluffy and not simple stodge to fill our bellies. We all left very satisfied. Frank and I explored Edinburgh for a little bit after that to get our bearings and then I decided to have an early night as I wanted to be ready and raring to go for what is sure to be a week packed with wonderful, exciting theatre, dance, music and more.
*I’m expecting some smart-alec to email me a blow by blow itinerary of exactly how one can see every Fringe show. With diagrams.
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