Not many things went wrong for me at Edinburgh this year, except for . . .

The fact remains that this year I had an incredibly enjoyable time at the Edinburgh fringe. And this is in spite of many things going spectacularly wrong. But the good news is that I had a show I was proud of, and which seemed to get people chatting. There were many times during the week after a gig in which people were eager to share stories about tea and their families, and they wanted to pose for selfies, and one even gave me a packet of biscuits, which I had with my cuppa the next day. But wow, other things certainly went wrong!

Now let’s just put this in to context. Two years ago I flew to Edinburgh and arrived to find that I had lost my passport. That was a bummer. And then the next year, I again flew to Edinburgh, and while I arrived, my luggage didn’t. So I had to spend the first two days of the fringe wearing and performing in the t shirt and the shorts that I had been wearing on the plane. So this year I thought, to hell with flying! I’ll catch the train.

There was also a bit of guilt involved in this decision, for believe it or not, it’s cheaper to fly from Devon to Edinburgh than it is to get the train. My guilt stemmed from the environmental damage that flying can do and the idea that I was saving myself a few hours made me feel bad, particularly as I was only going to perform a show about tea. Ironically, the planet bit back. On the day that I travelled from Devon, the rain was so intense that the line flooded north of Carlisle. So I had to get off at Preston, catch a train to Manchester, a train to Newcastle, and then finally a train to Edinburgh, arriving five hours late during a massive thunderstorm. Oh well, I thought, that’s my bit of bad luck for this year.

Ha. The next thing that happened was to discover that due to a massive mix up, the details of my show did not appear in the PBH Free Fringe brochure. They had the right picture, but the wrong name and description of the show. So I’d arrived at Edinburgh to perform a show that nobody knew about. A secret show! The upshot of this is that I had to do far more flyering and promotion than I have ever done, and that’s the part of the fringe that I hate the most. Flyering and promotion. I’m hopeless at chatting to people, and making small talk. I’m hopeless about talking about my own work and bogging it up. It’s an embarrassing thing to do, and I’m very English in that respect. Yes, I know that it’s good, but it’s not the done thing to tell other people this. I come from a background where I was always told not to boast, and always to put others first. I must have talked so many people out of coming to the show!

So the week went fairly well, all things considered. People would turn up for the non existent show that was meant to have been at the same time as mine. Some of them stayed. None of the other spoken word artists at the fringe knew that I was there beyond my immediate friends, but I had an audience every day, small though it often was. And the show was received well.

I caught the train home early on Sunday morning thinking that it couldn’t possibly be as bad as it had been going up. The weather was much better, and I only had to change at Manchester coming back. Oh, the luxury! And just as I was sitting back enjoying the feeling of accomplishment on having survived the fringe for another year, I began to congratulate myself on using the train and doing my bit to save the planet.

And then when I arrived back at Paignton, I discovered that some bastard had nicked my luggage!

Author: Robert Garnham

Performance and spoken word artist.

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