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Friday, May 22

No Fringe No Holiday No No No No No

I don't know why I was slow in trying to arrange our trip to the Fringe this year. I'm usually champing at the bit. It's probably something to do with the fact that the cat was dying in February and I didn't quite get around to turning the conversation with my parents, when they visited, around to plans for August, as my mind was on other places, and I generally don't like to steer the conversation around to big favours.

That we're not visiting the Fringe has nothing to do with poor Spax the cat losing his short fight against cancer... I say short fight - he probably had it ages, but he was under treatment for a short time. Poor thing.

It soon became apparent in March that we were facing a real risk of the Fringe either being cancelled, or being a risky place to visit given the pandemic. After a few weeks of vacillations, the Fringe Society cancelled this year's event and now August has a giant hole in it.

It's weird. We only really go to the Fringe for 4 days, but it's a huge feature of the year nonetheless. In recent years we've followed it up with a family holiday, which helps decompress after the turbulence of enjoying Edinburgh. It is turbulent too. The diary becomes a series of 60 minute (ish) adventures, including the show and the race to the next one. Each show has an emotional curve, and your mood gets swung around for a day and then you repeat the crazy for a few more.

I like the way we do the Fringe, but it's not the way it used to be.

As a comedian facing a life-altering period of time, one's mind is always drawn to the possibility of the hour-long show that might emerge from something... the situation, one's own imagination, the availability of spare time that's suddenly been enforced on you.

So will I be back at the Fringe next year with an hour long show?

Probably not... but maybe the planning for the long return to the Fringe may start.

Next August, the kids will be 6 & 8. There's a high chance that we could take them to the Fringe and entertain them there... but making child care/entertainment work AND seeing/doing the sorts of shows we did before they were born is a big old ask.

I'm racing towards 50 years old... (next Fringe I'll be 47)... how long could I reasonably expect to charge around the city of Edinburgh with the sort of energy I had back in the day.

Some of this comes back to my long-term bizarre relationship between my weight, stand-up, and Edinburgh.

The worse my weight, the harder Edinburgh is to blast around, yet I always have a special burst of energy when I hit the Fringe... yet Edinburgh has, in the past, poisoned me with its plethora of unhealthy eating options. Yet Edinburgh has also acted as my annual exercise and diet plan. Weird.

Stand-up has been a good place to explore my feelings around weightloss, yet the late night driving and eating of the stand-up comedy circuit have been quite toxic for my health.

If I look back to last year's trip to Edinburgh, I was in a great place weight-wise and Edinburgh proved it. I'd packed on quite a bit of weight in the first half of the year, despite my desire to use an introduction to a dance-based fitness class, and a part in The Producers as my excuse to get fitter... in the end I regressed to stupid eating and gained weight... but the end of The Producers was like a switch being flicked.

I blasted harder than ever at my eating and exercise, doing multiple classes per week, doing building projects at home (two sheds!) and I lost a fantastic amount of weight in a short period and was genuinely more nimble.

We hit Edinburgh and I left my wife in the dust as we blasted up hills... Which is not very polite. She was, I think, amazed that I was being so energetic.

It's out of character.

These things come and go though... post Fringe, though the diet regime held for a bit, other things clouded the sky, health-wise.

This is what happens when you head into middle age. It just gets harder.

So, I find myself wondering how well the leisure industry will bounce back after this pandemic, how quickly the Fringe Society and other organisations will recover, given this year's aborted attempt at holding the festival, how much disposable income we'll really have in a year's time, and whether my aging bones will have it in them to do one of my favourite things.

Time will definitely tell.

As negative and conflicted as this all may sound, I'm looking forward to finding out what time does tell, and I'm not going to give up easily on the Scottish August silly season. 


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