Warning. If you’re doing the Fringe as either a watching person or a doing person (my new terms for it), you’re going to be putting a lot of effort in, and it’s quite demanding on your body. If you don’t look after yourself and deal with your creature comforts, you run the risk of it all going wrong.
I’m not entirely going to fall into the trap of telling you that Scottish food is unhealthy. It’s not entirely true. Of course you can buy unhealthy Scottish food. I have in my head a series of favourite establishments where you can buy the filthiest of dirty food. In fact, I totally overused these establishments, about twice a day, while doing The Musical! in 2004. With the hilly streets of Edinburgh under your feet, and the dodgy food in your stomach, you end up growing a gut AND extremely strong calf muscles. This boom and bust thing isn’t really advisable.
After my show in 2004, it took a few weeks to stop feeling poisoned. I’d gained several pounds (stones?) was finding increasingly hard to keep my energies up and was no longer faking being out of breath in my show.
Last year I took myself to hospital one evening with what I thought to be the warning signs of a cardiac episode of some sort. There’s nothing like a bit of feeling your own mortality to tell you to slow down. In truth, the exact condition was diagnosed as me being “a bit dehydrated”. It had been coupled with quite a high heart rate, a cramping in my left hand and arm, and a lot of panic on my part. The most uncomfortable part of the experience, other than the psychological soul-searching you get to do in a cubicle in Edinburgh Hospital, was the 8 million attempts they made to take blood from me and get a line in to my hand. Ick. I wouldn’t recommend it.
In my own defence, I’d gone up to Edinburgh with a pre-existing infection and was on anti-biotics. I was experiencing the anti-biotics making war with the septic insect bites. I had actually been eating well and trying to keep myself hydrated. I just needed to do more of it than I realised. From that point forward, wherever I turned there was one of my flatmates keeping an eye on me and handing me a pint of water to keep myself from a return trip to the Hospital.
Here’s some good advice – get caring flatmates like that. They were great. Until my girlfriend arrived. Then they handed me over to her and told her that “[they’d] kept me alive so far, now it was her responsibility”.
If you spend a few weeks in Edinburgh overdoing it and not taking care of your body, then bad things will happen. Voices will be lost, shows will be pissed away, you’ll be in a shitty mood, regardless of how you should feel owing to circumstance, or the show you’re watching/performing. The city will start to feel bigger than it is. It will get harder. You will be on your hands and knees… and not in a good way.
So drink smoothies and water. Limit alcohol to just sometimes. Don’t just eat chips. Even Subway is a feasible alternative to dodgy dirty food. Get sleep. Take some time away from the festival. It all helps.
However, the flat really is important. Not just in case you need your flatmates to prevent your untimely death. Ian really did force me to drink pints of water the night I returned from the hospital, and the rest of them really did seem to have set up a “monitoring Ashley” rota. I was even instructed not to turn it up to 11 and to keep it at 8 or 9 MAX!
You are probably human being. I reckon that’s very high probability, unless you’re a dog having this read to you for some sort of experiment. As such, you need to be warm and clean. You don’t like to smell bad. You like to sleep in a comfortable place. You like shelter and safety. For these reasons, when it comes to the idea of camping/camper-vanning at Edinburgh, I’m out.
I know one of my co-bloggers on this site is currently in a tent. Good luck with that, Eric. Seriously. You’re gonna need it.
We’ve seen what happens to our camper-van dwelling friend, Jem, who was thankful of the loan of our shower on a couple of occasions. It can really take the shine off your Edinburgh experience, if you have to work your arse off just to get a nice poo opportunity (advice: University owned buildings are a good place for toilets – plenty of them and kept in reasonable condition).
Don’t forget you need to look after your body. If that breaks down, you won’t be able to enjoy the festival.
I’ll see you in the hospital on the 15th, then. Usual cubicle in the cardiac admissions section.
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