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Sunday, August 13

What A Day

If I would have predicted the contents of this entry, I would have expected it to be about my first twenty minute set without the guitar. Thinking about it, I don't think I've ever done that before. Last night, I wrote up a bunch of things I've either done or been meaning to do as spoken stand up, and today I did them. It worked enough, though there was no ending.

That's what I wanted to write about. I could also have added comments about the two shows I saw today and the flyering. However, life is not that simple.

The good news is that I managed to catch up with a friend I'd not seen in ages, and go with her to a show. The aftermath was less than enjoyable. Consider this, though. While we are pissing around, having fun here in Edinburgh's silly season, life is still going on all around us. My newish stand up set has an underlying theme of doing the right thing and death. . . And you can't say it and not believe it, that's cheating. Lest I'm giving the impression that something calamitous befell me then don't worry, I simply got sucked into someone else's misery for a bit and didn't like the view.

As I was walking down the street, I noticed an old guy, probably drunk, probably homeless, on the brink of collapse. Then as I passed, he did the collapsing. I had to choose whether to stop. I made the right choice and did. Someone else had also stopped, which at first made me wonder whether to leave them to it, but I decided that it was best to get involved. Over the next few minutes we were drawn in to doing the best we could for this fellow. He was staying at a nearby hostel and asked up to call them. Someone from there came to join us. We helped the guy with his angina medicine and noticed him getting less lucid, more emotional, and more obviously in pain. This is not funny. A passing stand up comedian, whom I recognised turned out to be first aid trained and also stopped to help. This happened a short while after we'd made and executed the decision to call the paramedics.

It's a strange journey to go from bitching about the flaws in a student show and wondering about what fun is to be had in other parts of the Fringe, to holding a man's hand as he begs you not to help him because he just wants to go, he just wants to be able to die so the pain will stop.

All the while, we're blocking the pavement, trying to keep people from crowding this man and trying to keep cars from coming too close to the edge. Some people walking past asked whether we'd called an ambulance, I think I laughed at them. . . Like we were just going to sit there and watch him die! Or maybe it was a clever mugging gang. In truth, they, like us were probably trying to help and might have been offering the use of their mobile phones.

This experience was upsetting. On a few occasions, I felt like I was about to see a fellow die. I didn't know what was upsetting me the thought of seeing it, or the sense that to his addled brain, he might be dying alone, confused and among strangers. I held his hand reassured him that he was being looked out for and tried to make him see it would be okay. We all of us, 4 in total, were doing what we could and hoping for the best.

The ambulance arrived and the paramedics took charge of the situation. The four of us - me, the man who first stopped, the first aid comedian and the hostel guy - we went our separate ways exchanging hand shakes and meaningful glances. We'd done what we could do. It might have been the emotional response of a man to his drink, and our homeless ward may well have many years in him, or he may not make it and his last hours of life may be the ones where some strangers tried to show him kindness and respect. I'll never know.

I did my best.

Though I really don't feel like it, I now have to go off to a gig and be funny. Perhaps I'll sing that hilarious song about masturbation.


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