I had a horrible moment today when I checked the date. 15th August. Pretty much halfway through the Fringe. Fuck. What the hell happened? Before this whole thing started I had plans… dreams… I was going to see hundreds of shows, party til the early hours each and every night with people I’d never met before, re-define my entire life structure and revolutionise who I was. Now I’m halfway through and I’ve done… well, nothing. I still don’t feel like the Fringe has actually properly started, and it’s all because of the bastard that is: routine.
Everyday has the same pattern. Get up, flyer (or come up with an excuse not to flyer), eat, do show, run to next show, finish, go to trusty Bedlam, drink, drink, sleep, repeat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m having a bad time, it’s just that I feel I haven’t achieved all the things that I should be from the Fringe. There’s so much going on, so many shows, so many people, that I feel every moment should be fresh and new. And it wouldn’t be a problem, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m halfway through and I’ve done nothing. The list of shows that I keep telling myself I have to see grows exponentially everyday; for whatever reason (I could blame tiredness but that seems like the coward’s way out) I’m never quite in the mood to go out and see these shows that I earmarked in the Fringe programme as essential viewing. Never put off today what you can do tomorrow is a fine system to live by, but before you know it tomorrow’s caught up with you and you’ve still done bugger all.
If I don’t see the shows, I don’t have much to write. It’s difficult to have an opinion on anything and everything if you haven’t even got any source material to go on. But after doing two shows a day I do just want to get drunk. Is that a weakness? Of course, but at least I’m being sociable. In a way. I think a lot of it has to do with living in Edinburgh all year round. There’s none of that excitement of going to a new, foreign place. In many ways it’s just business as usual: spending all my time in the theatre or local pub, chatting to mates and avoiding responsibilities. It doesn’t help that all my friends are in shows or working ridiculous hours either. There’s no cohesive outgoing mentality, a real lack of adventure and innovation. Mainly cos everyone I know is so fucking knackered half the time. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that there’s that certain something something of fun and adventure lacking at the moment.
And yet still I’m going through money quicker than a chainsaw through an Ethiopian. I thought one of the major advantages of not going to see shows or partying til 4am with random strangers would be that at least I’d save some money. Apparently not. I made the foolish mistake of checking my balance the other day and found that I had been considerably worse at budgeting than I originally thought. The Fringe sucks your money quicker than an Ethiopian does a McDonalds milkshake (cos of all the fat). It’s a pointless thing to complain about, but so’s everything so fukkit: the price of stuff charged at the Fringe is cunting ridiculous.
Everywhere takes every opportunity to rip off as many people as possible. Even my local kebab house stops giving out the free portion of chips with a doner kebab it usually does with no other explanation than, “We don’t serve free chips in August”. The Fringe is another term for unnecessary financial rape. And where does all the money go? No one knows. It disappears. It leaves people who are already poor and underpaid even poorer. And yet we all lap it up. “£3.15 for a pint of piss? Yeah! Give it to me! £10.00 to see Generic Stand-Up No.67? How can that not be value for money?!” Fucktards, all of us.
From reading this you my get the impression that I’m angry. I’m not, really. I love the way the city comes alive during August, I love the opportunities that are presented. But what I’ve really learned is that the Fringe is a learning experience. It’s about learning that dreams never match reality, it’s about learning why you’re shit and how to improve yourself, and it’s about learning that everyone, no matter how ‘arty’ and ‘leftie’ they are will squeeze you for every last drop of cash they can. But in a good way. The Fringe is unique, amazing, stupendous, whatever hyperbole you want to apply, and I reckons that once everyone realises there’s not that much to go it’ll step up a gear and get a lot more hectic. That’s what I’m planning on doing anyway.