day 7: personal mythology

There’s a bit in a story Nan wrote about a man remembering how he met his wife; she describes it as “a story he tells himself…part of his own personal mythology”.

Everyone has their own personal mythologies, of course; but there is no place and no people for which this is more true than Edinburgh and Edinburgh Festival people. The city is so visually distinctive, the festival lifestyle so intense, and the colours of life so vivid, that those of us who have been coming here for a few years store up a bank of our own festival memories. They’re memories of moments, events, stories we tell ourselves and are reminded of every time we come here.

This morning, after a ridiculously early (10am) Flashback venue rehearsal and notes session, I went to meet some friends who have come to visit from London, and then to meet my friend Lorna for lunch.

I have seen very little of Lorna since she dumped me in 1998 to move to Glasgow (and stay there), but I have a very vivid memory of meeting up with her in Edinburgh in 1999. It was the first time I’d been to the festival and I was blown away by how the city felt. I’d just come back from Athens and thought it must have felt something like the atmosphere during the Panathenaea; I remember seeing the view of the castle, parthenon-like,  from the New Town; I remember sitting in a bar in the New Town with Lorna and her sister, unable to really speak about how much the year just gone by had hurt and how much I blamed her for it.

Yesterday was nothing like that, of course; Lorna is a brilliant grown-up now with a husband and a beautiful baby daughter if the photos are anything to go by; and it was just great to see her (even if it did make me feel a bit like an irresponsible Peter Pan with my overdraft and my ridiculous comedy projects…)

But walking around the city with her – just like walking around Edinburgh always is – was like having visual mementoes of my own Edinburgh mythology piled onto me. Seeing the room where Topical Scurvy ran, with the image in my head of Fraser leaping onstage in his first appearance as Marty McFly. Seeing the Holyrood Tavern where, one midnight in 2006, I joined a room full of stand-ups sang dobedobedo at the tops of our voices before Brian Damage and Krystal took the stage. Seeing a large black door with the number 8 on it, being opened and then closed. Seeing the bar in Espionage where Loz and I invented the ‘scurvybuster’ cocktail; and where Tony, Loz and I decided to ditch Circling The Drain last year.

I’m hoping I’ll have more to add from this year; the shows were pretty average tonight, though Tom Webb was a great headliner for the showcase and the Flashback audience were the best we’ve had yet – largely thanks to an incredibly giggly lady at the front who started convulsing at Mr Myagi’s first line and then didn’t stop…

Hopefully I’ll remember that too.

Showcase: Audience half-full. I should have flyered better. Performance 6

Flashback: The reverse of the the show from two nights ago. Lots of mistakes (including a massive cockup on the lighting from me) but the audience had a wonderful time.

Overall: WIN

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