Saw more shows today and socialised a little bit and enjoyed myself a lot more. As much as I am looking forward to the Fringe being over I am slightly disappointed that I haven’t seen more stuff and half of me wishes it could go on longer, but only as a spectator.
At lunchtime I went to see one of my RHMOL guests and Shepherd’s Bush neighbour Virginia Ironside. I got to the theatre with ten minutes to spare but had to pick up the comps that Virginia had put aside for me. The box office had three windows open and the queues were all quite short so I assumed I’d be OK and stood in the centre queue. But things were moving very slowly indeed. Then our window became available but the woman at the front of the right hand queue brazenly moved across whilst the person at the front of ours chatted. The women in front of me (all in their sixties) rolled their eyes and tutted and complained to each other and spoke of the cheek of the interloper but did nothing about it. Their show stared at 12.05 (about ten minutes away) whilst mine was five minutes earlier. I was slightly annoyed that they hadn’t been more vigilant.
Another three minutes passed and it was clear that I wasn’t going to get to the front of the queue in time. I politely asked if it might be possible for me to go next as my show was starting imminently. “Our show starts at 12.05,” they told me. “Yes, but mine starts at 12. I will miss it if I don’t get my tickets now. And I am just picking up comps, it will only take me 30 seconds.” They suggested that I was in the wrong queue and should be at the press desk, though I don’t know what made them think they were such queue experts when they couldn’t even stop someone pushing in in front of them. And they were wrong. I didn’t have press tickets. I had comps. “Please can you let me nip in. My show is starting any second."
“Our show starts in 5 minutes,” they said, pulling non-apologetic apologetic faces.
“But mine starts now.”
They weren’t going to budge. Maybe given how slowly things had been going you could understand their fear, but they knew in their hearts that they had enough time and that they were effectively denying me the chance to get into a show that I had dragged myself out of bed to see. There was a chance I’d be allowed in late, but some shows don’t admit latecomers. I was pretty annoyed by their intransigence. “Oh fuck you,” I said to the late middle-aged women. It felt very satisfying to respond to their selfishness with impoliteness. Saying fuck to some old women is obviously a terrible thing to do. But they deserved it and it made me feel a lot better and it caused quite a stir in the Assembly Rooms queue. This is the Edinburgh Fringe. You get to see drama even when you’re waiting to see drama. I had turned to leave as I delivered my witty bon mot. I had decided that my best course of action was to hope that the people on the door would believe me when I said I had comps and let me in, which they did as it turns out. I still missed the first couple of minutes of the show, which was an enjoyable hour of observations about ageing. Though I am not yet quite old enough to identify with it all, it was fun to watch a room of white haired people sharing laughter at the way their bodies and attitudes have changed. Virginia is an extraordinary woman and it was interesting to hear about the swinging sixties and the problems that the sexual revolution threw up for young women.
Later I would see Matthew Perret in “The EU explained” which wittily challenged some of the stereotypes and media lies about Europe and after dinner I went to the Rose of Jericho by Alex Martinez in which Kevin Hely expertly portrayed an ex-soldier in this gripping one man play about war and waking up to reality, via the poetry of Wilfred Owen.
It couldn’t match the real life drama of me telling some elderly women to fuck themselves, but it came close. There was clearly something in the air today because when we hailed a cab to take us to dinner, the taxi cab pulled into a bus stop, slightly blocking the way for a mini-cab behind him, This led the minicab driver to stop and swear at the black cab driver for getting in his way (even though the traffic in front was barely moving and he was stopping to pick up a fare - if a little bit close to a bus stop perhaps). We got into the cab to watch our driver haranguing the other one and telling him he was going to report him for his swearing (how awful to use expletives to a stranger - it’s never ok). It was quite a slanging match which I suspected was more about the difference in status between the drivers than anything else. The argument would continue for much of our journey as the two cars were going the same way and there were plenty of opportunities for them to pull alongside each other and keep things going. “I have witnesses to you swearing at me and I am going to report you…. yeah keep on swearing, my passengers can hear you too…. I was picking someone up, that’s my job. I am allowed to do that. You’re not…. well that shows how much you know. Look at you with your sat nav. Yeah you need a sat nav. Of course you do.” The bitterness was indeed about official versus unofficial taxi cab status. I loved “sat nav" being used as an insult. It felt like the war of words might spill over into violence, but both men were just venting. And venting frustrations that went beyond the rather minor incident that had caused it. Perhaps I could identify with that. It made for an interesting and dramatic trip though.
And whereas yesterday I had dragged my feet on to stage, tonight I skipped and danced more than ever. I was in a good mood and had lots of energy and it was a playful show to another small crowd. There’s no point in fretting any more. It will change nothing. All I can do is enjoy these last few performances and entertain the people who’ve been kind enough to show up. Only five more chances to see this show at the Fringe (though it will be on tour of course for the rest of you). Maybe only five more chances to see the play, though I am still hopeful it might get a London run (if someone else will pay for it). And maybe my last ten shows ever at the Edinburgh Fringe, so don’t miss the anti-climax at the end of a quarter of a century of laughter and disappointment.