Sunday, August 26, 2012

Edinburgh - Part Two

(Do you want to read Part One first?) (You don't have to.)

The first day of our show was hectic. Sophie had left all her knickers in Manchester, and our flyers hadn't been delivered to the venue. We rushed up and down the bending streets of Edinburgh, our thighs getting a taster of what they would be put through over the weeks to follow. It was the Thursday before the official starting weekend of the festival, so flyerers were comparatively thin on the ground: only a smattering of teenagers in their pants promoting their re-working of Henry V in a 1920s New York cabaret club featuring the songs of Buddy Holly (or whatever).

We arrived at our venue, the 3 Sisters, and went at once to inspect our performance space. The bus squatted in the corner of the courtyard, half-painted and looking unmistakably bus-like. We had been wondering how they would have transformed it to make it into a performance space, and when we got to the top deck we realized that it really was just a bus. A bus with lights and a small P.A. system, yes, but pretty much just a bus. It only occurred to me a while later, when chatting with a comic who was also performing on the bus (a nice guy, about 6ft tall) that it was lucky none of the three if us were particularly tall.

That first day Sophie had an incident involving lack of knickers, a wrap dress and an enthusiastic dog. And we couldn't flyer, due to lack of flyers.

Right, we thought, that's kind of OK (the flyer thing, rather than the dog thing). We could probably do with a day without an audience anyway, seeing as how we had been too rushed to really put it together before we left Manchester. In fact, we told each other, it's a good thing! We can have a dress rehearsal in the venue we'll actually be performing in! What luxury!

Lowri and I were in the bus about ten minutes before we were due to start, when Sophie came upstairs, pale-faced. We had audience members, she told us. Not only that, but three of our audience were reviewers.

Oh God.

Ten minutes later we began, and about an hour later we finished, relieved that we had not died or had aneurysms or anything. The reviewers went off to judge us, and we decided to inspect the offerings of the bar.

Soon we sat clutching pints. I was calling the print company to chase up our flyers and posters. The man I spoke to did not help my mood, calling me 'love' and 'darling' more times than was necessary (which is exactly no times, in my book). In the many, many conversations that followed he even had the temerity to tell me not to "get in a flap about it".

(I would like it noted that I did not immediately commandeer the nearest vehicle, go to Glasgow and kill him totally dead. The self-control that required should impress you greatly.)

It took another three days for our flyers to arrive (the posters are still a total mystery). We still needed to promote the show, though, so Lowri whipped up some excellent stand-ins:

For our first few days in Edinburgh we rushed over cobbles, performing over and over, meeting people, celebrating birthdays, seeing shows, doing band busking slots on the Royal Mile in the baking sun then in the whipping rain (top tip: an umbrella is not big enough to cover a cello), went to see a terrible, awful musical ("did someone write this as a dare?"), went to the opening night of Ben and Dan's show, Anthropoetry. We encountered some extremely posh and even more extremely drunk people ("what does your father think of what you do? Is he disappointed in you?"), waited for night buses before giving up and hailing taxis, trudging up and down hills and handing out our ersatz flyers to whomever would take them.

Time scuttled sneakily by.

We were reviewed, which was really weird. Seeing yourself in print being critiqued by a stranger to whom you can't respond, it is peculiar. Anyway, I won't put the reviews on here, but if you want to see some of the nicer things that were said about me, I have put a page on my real site for them. This is a cunning way of being a narcissist whilst pretending not to be. How sly I am, you hadn't even noticed, had you? (No.)

The weather suddenly went hot. The sun tripped off the cobbles and hangovers, and the top deck of the bus became a dramatically sweaty place to be in the middle of the afternoon. People still came, though, and bravely watched the show, gently steaming and fanning themselves listlessly with our newly-turned-up flyers. We had some good shows, some great moments. One day the queue was snaking out of the bus, and we jammed as many people on as we could before sadly having to turn the rest away. It was bizarre, telling a story in the middle of the top deck of a bus. If you did that on a bus in South Manchester you would get pelleted with rolled up bus tickets (or worse), and quite rightly.

Some shows weren't so great, of course. In one I forgot the end to my story. I just, kind of, didn't say it. I only realized halfway through Lowri's piece, and by then it would have been churlish to leap in with a punch line. We had some walk outs. Some bored stares. One man answered his phone during the show, which you just cannot hide on the top deck of a bus.

But we had as many laughs, as many thanks and warm reactions and one guy even came back a second time. We got better as we went along, it got easier to ask people to donate, and my looping got smoother.

About halfway through Lowri, Sophie and my ten day run Ben managed to score the band (Geddes Loom, with me, Ben and Dan) a gig (can I get away with using the phrase "score us a gig"?). We'd decided that busking was a bit crap, as we risked totally ruining all our equipment every time we played at the mercy of the weather. The venue was called the Tron Church, at the bottom of the Royal Mile.

We did the gig, and they liked it so much that we performed there everyday until we left Edinburgh eleven days later.

I've got more to tell you about all those gigs, but not in this post. It is long enough already and I suspect that Ben might be about to give me some food, so I am going to go and look hungry at him for a bit.


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