It was the first Saturday of the Edinburgh Fringe. Iâd just finished my show and I was back in my flat drinking herbal tea on my own. What has become of me? I have become old, that is what. And I am attempting to get through the entire festival without a single drink of alcohol. What madness is this? Alcohol is all that has got me through my previous eighteen Fringes.
The me of six years ago would be aghast at this fogeyism, but then he probably spent the first Saturday of the Fringe sitting in the Pleasance courtyard, drinking beer on his own, desperately hoping he might meet a friendly lady who might snog him, but then going home later, drunker and still alone with a trail of tears drying on the Edinburgh paving slabs.
So maybe I have not just become old. Maybe I am content too. This is an unusual emotion to be experiencing up here and most of my Fringe memories are tinged with unhappiness and regret or hedonistic excess. Six years ago I was struggling to get people into see my shows and reviewers were beginning to write me off as a spent force, but now I am playing a big room, people are coming and laughing and reviews are good and part of me wants to travel back in time and tell that 2004 Richard Herring that everything will be all right, that it will be a struggle, but it will be worth it.
But then if that 2004 idiot knew that then he probably wouldnât bother working and would use his relative youth and strength and crapulous belligerence to put me in a headlock and make me recite my last five shows so he doesnât even have to write them. That 2004 me was a prick.
I then wondered what message the 2016 me would have if he came back to see me watching âMicky Blue Eyesâ. Would he tell me to go out and enjoy myself whilst I still could? Or would he explain this was my high point? That I might get more successful but I would never be as happy as this?
Whatever. I hope I am still doing this in six years. Content or ravaged with self-doubt and impotent fury, itâs the greatest arts festival in the world.
Says the man who prefers staying in watching âMicky Blue Eyesâ.