Ashley Frieze – The Dirty Dozen


Today is the first of the 12 days it will take before I’m in Edinburgh with everyone else doing what must never be called “Fringeing”.

For some today is the day to travel to Edinburgh to acclimatise. For others, it’s time for last-minute previews, or packing, or publicity, or advertising. For the Fringe office, it’s yet another day to be sending out information and advice to the performers. Chortle went online today with their Fringe-oriented layout. Most other places are going Fringe crazy. People, this is not a rehearsal. It’s happening!

As things stand, though, I’m not actually missing the Fringe itself. From Friday, this will be different, and I’ll have a full week of seeing it second hand via the internet.

It’s probably a good idea for me to use the extra time I have before going to work on my strategy for making the most of the year. Not making a trip to the hospital is high up the list. Secondly, there’ll be “filling the venue as much as possible”.

I’ve never used the facilities at Fringe Central, which is clearly barmy, since they’re very well equipped. I shall try to go along, collect my performer’s card, and use their free Wifi, cafe and the like. You pay a lot of money for your Fringe registration: you may as well use what’s on offer. Perhaps if I get any particularly interesting reviews this year, I’ll even go on the flyer-stapling trail – something I’ve never done!

(In 2004, when we zoomed our way through 15000 flyers(!!!) the last 5000 had our four star reviews printed on. That was nice. Stapling a photocopy of a good review, though, is a right of passage. Perhaps I should try to get reviewed and do a good show and… or maybe not.)

Setting up home in a new city (or even one you known well) is no small matter. Gone are the days when I’d go and live in Edinburgh for a whole month. My two-weeks-and-a-bit habit is probably the most I can manage, and even then it shouldn’t be underestimated how much adjusting it takes to get into the process of being at home while away from home.

Tomorrow, I’ll look at some “flat etiquette”. For the remainder of today, I’ll look forward to the journey to Edinburgh and how it feels to arrive in a city which I love. I’ve done this journey so many times, not always for the Fringe, but always been glad to arrive there. I remember one warm August, when I travelled from Newcastle to Edinburgh and arrived there on a lovely afternoon – I opened the car windows and thrust my right arm out of the driver’s window – almost as though to hug the city. It’s great to arrive.

After arriving, it doesn’t take long to have climbed many staircases, dragged yourself up many many winding or steep streets, and for the sheer enormity of this festival to have dawned on you. You may know what your own posters look like, but can you spot them among the million other posters up there? What chance would a punter have?

Being in Edinburgh is like being a tiny fish in a very busy pond.

Unfortunately, I arrive at about midnight this year, so won’t see much of Edinburgh, and I’ve got an urgent “get in” to do at my venue the following morning, so won’t have time to go for a wander and get myself into the Fringe mood. I’ll have to hit the ground running. Even though I’m fairly experienced, I reckon this will take some doing.

To those who can take a couple of hours to acquaint themselves with various routes around Edinburgh, I heartily recommend it. It’s hard to get very lost, but it’s worth becoming very familiar with the important “trade routes” as soon as possible, so you can steam about doing whatever you need to do.

Ashley’s 100% never fail fringe tip. Take the last page of the Fringe guide, where there’s a map, rip it off and throw away the rest of that guide. There are millions more guides about for when you need a fully complete one, and that map, with the venues and their numbers on it, is the best tool for geo-locating yourself compare to the venue you’re rushing to.

So, to people already in Edinburgh – good luck; I’m jealous. To everyone else, pack well, travel safe and see you there.

Ashley Frieze – The Seven Deadly Sings (Remastered), 2:30PM, 13-28 August, Pravda Room, Espionage, Venue 185. Part of the Free Festival

You can also follow Ashley on Twitter.

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