Friday 31st August 2018
Reading time 02 minutes 28 seconds
The harder you fall, the heavier your heart; the heavier your heart, the stronger you climb; the stronger you climb, the higher your pedestal. – Criss Jami
On the last day of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival I climbed* a mountain. I had 4 weeks to complete this task but left it to the last minute so it would get done.
It was a typical Summers morning in Edinburgh, grey, windy with some light drizzle.
The mountain overlooks the city and is named Arthurs Seat. I like to think it earned this moniker after the brilliant Comedian Arthur Smith although if that was the case he may have wanted it called Daphne Fairfax.
The climb seemed steeper than previous years either that or my legs were older. As I stopped to catch my breath I thought I heard a party. Talking, singing and music flowed off the mountainside and sounded exciting, probably because I wasn’t that close to it yet.
It was 6am. Who would have a party at this hour? I initially thought how fun a soirée overlooking this gorgeous city would be.
I continued my ascent. The sound increased with my altitude.
Upon reaching the summit, I realised to my horror that the uproar of noise I’d heard were Students partying. These were the worst kind of students. Drama Students. Lots of them.
They had been drinking from night before and most of them were drunk. The songs being sung were from what I can only assume was their musical production. It sounded excellent and I love a musical but it was missing a few key ingredients, lighting, stage, seating, good acoustics and a paying audience who wanted to be there.
I desired tranquillity, which was sadly denied. I was becoming angry but then reminded myself of the wise words of Mr. Constanza – “We are living in a society”, which meant the acceptance of others beliefs, values and ways.
OK, I’ll keep out their way. How much noise can drama students make?
The answer is enough to be very very annoying. I relocated to find my little piece of seclusion
And then the shout went out of “Photo Time!”
Three of them came over and stood almost on top of me to have their photos taken. Why had they followed me? The Pet Shop Boys song popped into my head. What had I done to deserve this?
The ring leader was named Giles and his friend was named Sebastian. The working class chip on my shoulder was screaming at me to try to scare them away with some false bravado. I’m 5 foot tall. Anything I said would be ridiculed and even though I hadn’t moved I found myself in the way of their photo.
Giles then said it was “that time” and started to undress. Sebastian followed. They said this was the done thing in Durham. Damm they were from THAT university. I’d heard the population of that particular house of people avoiding work were the most annoying of all students.
From a Football language viewpoint Durham students are like Arsenal Supporters. Nice enough but believe they are better than everyone else. I’d never experienced the Durham effect but Giles and co. were starting to live up to a reputation.
The wind was blowing, Giles had his top off. It sounded like Daddy wouldn’t be pleased with this so Giles reiterated his “Don’t post these on Facebook” request. Oh please do and make sure it’s mentioned at every family Christmas dinner when Giles had bought shame on the family name. My working class shoulder chip had grown a lot recently. His clipped tones didn’t meant he was posh, it just meant he spoke proper like what I don’t.
I was working myself up into a frenzy of frustration and anger. Had these people no thought for others? Of course they didn’t. They were young, happy and carefree.
I then had a moment of clarity. I wasn’t angry. I was envious. I wanted to be a drama student and these people were living the life I wished for myself. I longed to be naked on a mountain with a troop of actors. To be in a gang of drama students. The best kind of students.
And then another moment of clarity.
I had been in Edinburgh for a month. I’d performed comedy in front of thousands of people. I’d improvised stories in a children’s show and had a great time entertaining them. We’d had positive feedback from audience members and people stopped me on the street to tell me how much fun they had. I even earnt money and would probably break even. Everything I had ever wanted from this Fringe experience I had achieved.
So I started to unzip my top as I was going to be in the picture with the Giles and Sebastian. Sure I wasn’t in Durham University or their musical but they would understand the desire of a fellow performer. I was one of them. This was my tribe.
In that moment I learnt you can’t just be a member of a gang. You need to be invited. I left the mountain and schlepped back down a little shame faced while putting some of my clothes back on.
* When I used the word climb I actually meant walk. Climb makes me sound dashing
Picture: Me on that mountain