It rained, yesterday. It rained like you wouldn’t believe. And I mean that. You wouldn’t believe now much it rained in Auld Reekie yesterday. It was a relentless deluge which lasted all day, persistent and it made everything moist. As I walked into the city from my university accommodation I thought, well, there’s no way I’m flyering in this. I hate flyering at the best of times, but when you’ve got a show that has no publicity whatsoever, and is so wet that your fliers are going soggy while they’re still in your backpack, it all seems ever more unnecessary.
And yet, what other method is there of getting complete strangers to come and see a show about tea?
The town was gloomy. Like a teenager whose come on holiday with his parents. The old tenements and bridges leaned in frowning, like an old lady confused by an iPad. The rain ran in the gutters of Cowgate and actually came up from the drains. I’m sure that drains are meant to work the other way. For a short while there was a fountain in the middle of Cowgate, as the water came up and sparkled in the headlights of the taxis and ambulances.
I went and caught up with Melanie Branton and we chatted in her town centre accommodation about flyering tactics, exit flyering and street flyering, and the shows that she had seen, and it was great to spend time with her. It was also great to be out of the rain. I then went to my venue, the Bar Bados complex, and stuck up posters around the place advertising my show, which at the very least made me believe that I was achieving something tangible and proactive.
And then I tried some flyering. Jeez, it was impossible. Within minutes my flyers became a soggy mush of paper and cardboard. I gave up very easily and went to watch Sez Thomasin’s excellent and thought provoking show about diversity and representation in the NHS, and then stayed in the same room to watch Melanie Branton’s incredibly show about class and her background, delivered its passion, enthusiasm and warmth, humour and emotion.
At this point I really should have done some flyering, but instead I went for a pizza with Melanie in an Italian restaurant in Grassmarket, the most defining features seeming to be a stained glass mural representing stereotypical Italian images, such as a Vespa scooter, the Alfa Romeo logo, the colosseum, and, I swear, Sylvio Berlusconi. And the man at the table next to us had a soup and when he went to put some pepper in, the top came off and pepper went absolutely everywhere. ‘Would you like another soup?’, the waiter asked. ‘No,’ he sighed, ‘I’m fine’.
And then I did some flyering. And Melanie helped. And she was brilliant, in the torrential rain and the dim and gloomy Cowgate area, chatting and stopping people and generally showing me how to do it. I’m sure that this would have worked much better if the weather wasn’t so awful. Twenty minutes to go, I went up to my room and chatted to Jemima Foxtrot, who told me that there’s a ghost at the venue and at Banshee Labyrinth called Molly, and if you don’t get an audience, you perform your show to Molly, and she gives you good luck for the rest of the fringe. It seems a better idea than flyering.
And the show? I had an audience, which was a bonus, so no need for Molly. And I think I performed well. There’s a section in the show where I try to throw a teabag over my shoulder into a tea cup and for the first time ever, I actually managed it.
I’m writing this the next morning and it’s actually quite sunny out there. I’m looking forward to doing some flyering with dry flyers and a potential audience who haven’t got their hands full with umbrellas. It’s going to be a long week, but I’m happy to be here, and feeL privileged to be in the festival at all.