What is so wrong with silence?
People sometimes complain of pubs that they say are, “like a morgue”, and immediately want to go there. I like morgue pubs. I like pubs whose walls repel “theme”, where a low rumble of conversation or the tut as a newspaper page is turned are the loudest noises to be heard. I do not wish to be somewhere where the soundtrack of my day has been chosen by head office. I was leaning near a mannequin in Exeter, waiting while my wife judged some tops, and a song played for 13.67 billion years with seemingly one line. It was in the genre of dance, but no one was dancing. While looking at cut price cardigans further down the street, I saw that the shop had a DJ. He wore a hat and played things with many BPMs (is this still the official measurement of beats?).
Today, as I drank black coffee and stared at things, the repeated refrain of “You’ll move yourself to death” (or similar) disturbed me. I have never chosen a pub or coffee bar based on the soundtrack. I will listen to the music in my own head if I may. We can all have a hint of Charles Bonnett syndrome if we put the effort in.
I fell from the heights of my teetotalism last night, and now I am disappointed. I found the beer disconcerting.I drank two pints of something Belgian, and then cursed how quickly the limitations of my mind became clear to me. This morning, I felt a vague melancholy and limb ache, all psychosomatic I am sure (so much is, until the day it is real and we drop). I think I fill my days with so much that there is no room for deviations into booze.
After recording part 2 of the Self Help documentary, I hurried to The Stand. I showed off at Gavin Webster and Tony Jameson in the dressing room (I recommend both their shows), and admitted that I knew I may screw up my show today. The Groundhog day of the fringe sees much the same, but details that can change. In the early days, the show is rough and excitable as you work out what it is, then it can gain some sort of shape (but always with room for tangents), then it can have a middle period where familiarity brings confusion and a mired mind. I thought that would be today, and it was.
Was I too intense? I can be very intense, I know that there may occasionally be a thin line between entertainment and being trapped with a madman forcing Kool-Aid on you. I fear I was a little too Jim Jones today. I blame the Belgian Beer molecules blocking my synapses. Now I will reboot, and the final four days should be back to abnormal.
I am beginning to see some of the young buck performers unraveling. Edinburgh Fringe is a place of expectations. It is the most intense and pre-imagined place in the comics’ calendar. It is where all dreams have been imagined, even the pessimist has had an optimistic dream of adoration and praise and full houses. Then, in the damp tunnel that was used to board up lepers and sickly unwanted children, but is now Venue 865, the people don’t come. The ones who do are confused, and your lungs start to rattle with a disease that has been hiding in the masonry since 1597. The end of August seems like an illusion that will never become reality. Flight is starting to beat fight in your mind’s choices. It is horrible to watch, like the Oregon waitress who drives to Vegas once a year with all her tips to win big, and who is impoverished in Caesar’s Palace before nightfall.
Every communication that comes from outside the fringe seems like gobbledegook, there is no other world, just Cowgate and the blanket you have rented for £2000. It is at times like these that it is hard to say the worst years can lead to the best ideas, but they just might.
I am then on tour from Newcastle to Exeter, Sheffield to Croydon, Manchester to Cardiff and on HERE