On my annual early morning pilgrimage to appear on the Fred Mccauley show on BBC Scotland, I took my 4th cab of the Fringe (and my 5th took me home, but these were both organised for me, so I don't think it counts and I have not yet been so weary that I have not been able to trudge up to my venue, which is a victory of sorts - even in the rain, with aching ribbage). As we closed in on the Spiegeltent, at about 10.45 (I was lucky this year and was on right at the end of the show, so didn't have a horrendously early start), I looked out the cab window to see a young man, wearing old fashioned clothes and his face painted white to resemble a ghoul of some kind and wondered whether he was on his way somewhere or whether he had been out all night and was in fact heading home.
Then it struck me how in Edinburgh, during the Fringe it would be pretty easy for an actual ghost to walk around in broad daylight and no-one would pay the slightest bit of attention to him or her or it. There are so many freaks and weirdos on the street that that pale faced man might have been an actual ghoulie, not just a student pretending to be one. But no sane person would assume he was the netherworld. What larks the dead and the undead could have!
I wondered in that moment if there might be a successful series of children's books in that very idea. Was this my JK Rowling moment? And did JK Rowling make the mistake of immediately publishing her good idea in a blog? Leave that idea alone, idea thieves. Along with all of my ideas. They are mine. And look forward to the adventures of a gang of Edinburgh ghosts and the mayhem that they are allowed to create for one month of the year. I am literally sitting on a goldmine. I literally am. It took a lot of effort to locate one just so I could be literally sitting on it when I wrote that entry.
And today was cool. I saw a couple of shows and unexpectedly nearly sold out my own show. And Tim Keys came to my gig and perhaps somehow the magic of being in the same room with the man who had bust my ribs a week after he bust my ribs, caused my ribs to partially heal as they no longer hurt so much after I was done. Let's wait til tomorrow before we celebrate though. He looks a bit like an Amish Jesus at the moment, so maybe he cured me. After crippling me. To teach me some kind of lesson.
I don't know what it was though.
I did Old Rope later and again took the chance of letting the audience select a random diary entry. This one turned out to be quite an embarrassing, but illustrative one, about me kissing a 13 year old girl on holiday. I was 28 years old at the time. No I wasn't. I was 15. That is allowed. Plus it was only a couple of minor kisses. That is the case for the defence.
It is brilliant, yet excruciating comedy to put myself through this, because although I read the whole diary a few months ago, I don't remember every detail and didn't think I would be reading most of it out and so most of it comes as a surprise to me. And I clearly squirm at the awful teenage embarrassments that I am forced to recount, knowing no more than anyone else what is about to come.
Here's part of the awful entry I wrote 26 years and 4 days ago. It speaks volumes about me then and now really -
"Well, another girlfriend on the R Herring List" (this is a list that contained 7 other girls, one of whom was my next door neighbour when I was 4, none of whom I had done more than briefly snog - Oooh Casanova!) "Her name is Lucy. Her surname I do not know" (pretty serious then) "Her age 13, although she looked older." (How many times have we heard that defence - luckily I was 15, so it's just about acceptable).
"Again it was on holiday. I met her and again on the lat night I discovered her feelings and she mine. However, all I did was hug and kiss her twice, once a peck on the lips, once long and smoochy, but something seemed wrong to her. Maybe she discovered that she didn't really like me or that it was too late for us to get to know each other. I will never know. I haven't got her address, she hasn't got mine and she lives in Berkshire." (an enormous and irreconcilable distance. I later talk abour a Dutch boy who I have the address of. So clearly it was fine to have the address of someone from Holland, but Berkshire was another country) "It's a funny thing, she was quite pretty and intelligent and I liked her a lot, but I'm not really going to miss her like Carla or Sarah, although I feel nothing for them now." (What a cold hearted lothario I was).
"But Lucy and me had a nice relationship. She liked my jokes, although she didn't like laughing at them" (how brilliant is this and how prescient of many of my future relationships. One gets the impression that this girl didn't like me at all and that she reluctantly went along with the kisses because she didn't know how best to tell me she thought I was a dick - correctly so given my cavalier attitude within a matter of days) "and I liked her conversations and her stupidness in certain things. I think I seem to like intelligent girls who act stupidly." (I don't think there has ever been a better description of the kind of women I like. How much truth comes out from this teenage stream of consciousness. My lack of self awareness at that age is truly staggering. And I was a little philosopher by adding "Still on the subject of holidays it's amazing I will (probably) see none of those people I met again."
I was right about that.
Unless Lucy is reading this as the 39 year old woman she now is and remembers me and wants to give it another go. Or is just too embarrassed to tell me to leave her alone because she doesn't actually like me and we end up getting married and having kids, mainly down to her social awkwardness. Hey Lucy if you're out there. I hope you had a nice life.
I came back home after the gig to make myself some soup and some fish fingers with tomato ketchup. Lucy Porter was in the kitchen and we had a glass of wine as we worked on our laptops. We stole some Celebrations chocolates from a box that one of our flatmates or guests had left in the kitchen. We figured it was probably a gift for all of us, but if not I promised to take the blame. I read about Simon Pegg having to drop out of a Quentin Tarantino movie
because of other commitments. "He's done pretty well, hasn't he?" I remarked, remembering a time when he was just another of the throng of Fringe performers and the support act for Steve Coogan. Lucy agreed that he had. "I wish I was dropping out of a film with Brad Pitt in it," I mused with some regret.
"Do you?" asked Lucy.
"No," I said, "I am glad I am in the kitchen with you, eating fishfingers and possibly stolen Celebration chocolates and drinking red wine."
And I meant it.
It was a lovely moment to be in. And I wouldn't swap my life with anyone's right now. I really wouldn't.
Photos of tonight's gig by Brainne Edge.