Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Longest Wednesday.

To say yesterday was exhausting would be an epic understatement.

The day started with me checking out of my temporary accommodation in a youth hostel (I’m not sure the first word is still applicable to me), leaving my luggage there to go and meet one of my new flyerers for this year.

The best way to describe the hostel is “functional”. It was made up a series of mini-flats in a typically many-floored Edinburgh building, with me staying in the forebodingly named Flat 13 at the top of eight (count them: eight) floors. As I walked towards the entrance, one of the people who worked at the hostel asked if I’d like a hand with my luggage, which I politely declined like a typical Brit. It was about five floors in that I knew I’d made a mistake; note to self: next time, say “Yes”.


I arrived at City Café at midday to meet my new flyerer Cameron, who’s a nice chap and very keen. It’s so important to have people you can trust flyering for you, particularly when working alone, as there just isn’t time to do it yourself when your show’s tech heavy and starts at midday.

While I was waiting for him to arrive I received an email from the letting agent I’d booked my digs through to say my keys were ready to pick up. This was a stroke of good luck, as they weren’t meant to be available until between 4- 6pm, which would have given me little time to pick up the equipment I’d had shipped to the Parcelforce depot on the outskirts of town and get it back before my tech rehearsal at the venue at 6pm.

The Parcelforce delivery is an adventure in itself that I should have started the blog with. It was on sitting down for breakfast at a café on Grassmarket that I checked my email to find a perplexed message from my Optical Manager friend Stephen. I’m sure he won’t mind me posting it, so here it is (click on it to enlarge):

Like Steve, I was completely perplexed. We’d briefly discussed the idea of having my equipment shipped to the Edinburgh branch of the opticians he works for to give me a more flexible window to pick it up, but decided against it in the end; other than the fact I had the same suitcase sent to his shop in Hitchin at the end of last year’s run, there was no reason for him to be involved in it.

I phoned the depot to be told two of the three packages I’d had sent up had already been signed for and collected - they hadn’t - and the other one - a suitcase containing my projector and leads - was nowhere to be seen. It was thanks to the commitment of one of the people at the depot (thank you Margaret, you legend) that it was eventually tracked down. She’d found a suitcase with no labels on it, save a tiny sticker I’d attached to the bottom before sending it back to Hitchin last year with Steve’s name and the name of the company he works for. Margaret Googled his name, found where he worked and phoned the store to ask if the suitcase was his, hence the confusion. If it weren’t for her looking him up, I would have lost half of my gear.

(Why it was label-less is up for debate, as it was Parcelforce who attached the labels themselves, but at least it worked out in the end, though I wouldn’t sooner have done without the before-breakfast panic.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes: KEYS. After I’d finished my meeting with Cameron, I walked to Waverley Station to flag down a taxi for a whistle-stop tour of the city taking in the letting agents’, the depot out of town (to pick up my gear) and then my digs off the Royal Mile. The driver was interested in how taking a show to the Fringe works and was shocked at the expense of it. I offered him some comps, so our paths may cross again.

I arrived at the digs, left my equipment at the foot of the stairs - it’s another multi-storey building - then walked back to the hostel to collect my luggage and drag it back to my flat. I then had about an hour to spare before I was due to meet my technician (another nice guy: Michael) and then walk the equipment to the venue, which took two trips; by the end of August, I’ll have thighs of steel.

Me, on a banner outside the venue; call me Canvas Face.

The tech was frenetic, as the venue had only just been set up. There was no time to run the show (which I’d expected), but it was nice to at least get in the space. We finished at 7pm and I said goodbye to Michael to discover all the flyers I’d had delivered to the venue had to be struck by 7pm, so they could finish setting things up. I’d taken an empty suitcase with me anticipating this, but had underestimated how many 7500 A6 flyers and 100 A3 posters were. It took two trips to get them back to the digs on my own, by the end of which I’d lost the will to live. I then went to the supermarket to buy food, which I didn’t sit down to eat until 10pm...and I still hadn’t had the chance to run my show yet.

A third of the flyers I carried back by myself.

This morning started with me downloading the secret video clip I’m ending the show with (more on that in the days to come) and the software required to boost the audio for it. I then had a shower and some breakfast, before walking to the venue to set up for my first show at midday. This ended up being pulled due to no turnout, which was a blessing in disguise as it gave me the chance to do a run in the space. I did it to no response from the two techies in the room, which would have been dispiriting if it weren’t for the fact they were there to do their job and not be an audience, but despite this I came out the other end feeling more confident. I’m going to need to make cuts to the set, but it’s starting to feel like a show with its own identity instead of a load of disparate material. All it needs now is an audience; fingers crossed I get one tomorrow. Now, forgive me while I book myself a spa break.

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