As we stepped off the train after the long (the longest that I have ever, ever endured) journey to the city of Edinburgh, a feeling of accomplishment enveloped us. We’re here, we thought. We’ve done it, all on our own, and with a child’s train ticket! (successful if make-up is scrubbed off, boobs are strapped down and eye-contact is limited). The walk to our accommodation was shortened by a lift from my comrade’s family and, after unloading our suitcases onto the floor and re-sculpting our faces so that we almost resembled eighteen year olds again, we began the short stroll into the city centre, where the chaos was already unfolding.
The streets were lined with people adorned in face-paint and wearing stilts, handing out flyers to their show at 19.00pm. Panicking families shielding their pushchairs from the several hundred breasts on show fled in every direction, as werewolves, vampires and mummies appeared from the other end of the road. We edged as fast as we could, which wasn’t fast at all, into a fenced off area that had benches, bars and venues, and sat down to peruse the pamphlet of shows and times. If you learn how to speak Edinburgh Fest early on, this process will be painless. Lots of tax-dodging celebrities such as Jimmy Carr will let you view his warm-up show for the princely sum of £45 for 45 minutes, or you can launch yourself into the deep end and go and see something, well, weird. Because weird equals free.
The first show we went to see, at around 20.00pm, was something worryingly called ‘Sex with Children’. Do not stop reading. It is not what it seems. As we entered the underground venue, a cross between a dungeon and Christian Grey’s red room of pain, we took our seats and held our breath. A man that could have been a magician appeared, launching immediately into his routine. As soon as the silence dissipated, we relaxed. The show revolved around the comedian’s extremely heart-wrenching sexual abuse as a child but, somehow in hell, he managed to make it hilarious. As we left with tears in our eyes, we donated a few pounds and made our way to the next show, this one called ‘Party Girls’. The venue was essentially a room with some hay on the floor and a giant plastic cow in the corner, with a bar serving ridiculously expensive cider in the middle. We did not care, and bought four each. ‘Party Girls’ consisted of four girls our age describing the humiliating processes of becoming a young woman and shouting at several confused men in the audience. I was content.
Due to being about seven ciders down each, bad choices were rearing their ugly heads over the horizon. We decided, for some reason, to wander the streets in order to find a cheaper bar. After locating one with drinks costing less than a tenner, we realised that we appeared to be getting the eye from two dishevelled looking gentlemen outside the door. After buying us a few G&Ts, the more attractive member of the duo revealed to us that he was, in fact, a rep of the bar, and walked away. Leaving us with the bearded man that seemed to be falling asleep on his hand. Assuming that he was also a rep, we laid out our demands: ‘Take us somewhere cheap and fun, please. And also please pay for the taxi as we have no money left.’ He was not a rep.
The taxi journey took an uncomfortable amount of time, and allowed us to realise that we had, in fact, made a terrible mistake. Finally, it halted outside a casino, and beardy gestured to us that this was our destination. For reasons that I still do not understand, we got out and followed him in. After sitting down at a table and accepting more extremely expensive drinks, all of us attempted to make stilted conversation and confessed that we had no idea how to play poker. He then inevitably fell asleep on a pile of poker chips. Snoring. After a bouncer had assured us that he would not be trafficked, we made our escape.
After consuming what I think was a pie and mash based takeaway, we were more determined than ever to soldier on into the night. A nearby free show called ‘Scat on a Hot Tin Riff’ beckoned to us from the pamphlet, and we made our weary way down the street, pastry stuck to our chins. The show was terrible, with the main joke involving a teacher being raped by an owl. The room was absolutely tiny, with only about five people sat down, making the situation even more unbearable. When it had finished, my friend and me decided to make our debut appearance as some groupies and attempted to cheer the comedians up. It did not work. One of their Dads was there, buying endless rounds of drinks and showing us photographs of their dog. Unable to go on in this insufferable situation, my friend and me (let’s call her Babs) decided to make the executive decision to invite these unfunny men back to our accommodation, that consisted of two single beds, to comfort them. Bestow your judgement in the comments below.
The penultimate act was called The Twins Macabre, and was held in the tiniest, dankest room of the night, littered with dolls with cracked faces and fake (we hoped) blood spattered up the walls. Two menacing children with painted white faces and Victorian clothing slithered into view, smiling at the crowd. They proceeded to sing several disturbing songs about a boy whose father shot him because he lost a relay race, and a man who had no face.
Our final destination concluded with both of us starting a fight (verbally, we are not animals) with a bigoted little comedian after his free show turned out to be a confusingly sexist rant, whilst he ate a sandwich. With so much Scottish beer coursing through our veins, he sadly did not stand a chance.
As the sun started to creep into the sky, blurring our vision and causing our eyelids to droop, sleep tempting us with its warm glow, we made our way to bed.
Current Location: Edinburgh, Scotland