In my last post I mentioned going to a city I love and let me just say: I love it even more. Despite its hills and wind and grey skies.
I guess I had rose tinted glasses on last week when we were in Edinburgh, because I had been brought over for the Fringe. This is when chaos descends upon the city of Edinburgh and across 319 venues, 3872 shows are performed. This is all in the space of 24 days.
I’m a theatre fanatic. I’m the person who looks forward to going to a new show when it comes out and who insists on paying for the “good seats”. I’ve worked on student productions, I’ve studied plays, I’ve acted (it was bad) and I’ve managed venues for the Dublin Fringe. I am all about obscure theatre.
I was in my element.
Unfortunately, as soon as our plane landed, I came down with a sore throat and sinusitis. This meant my plans were hindered. In 5.5 days, we saw 10 shows. One of which we walked out of. As someone who has worked on shows, I do not walk out of shows lightly. This show was just dreadful. But 1 bad show out of 10 are good odds.
I don’t think I did much reflection while I was in Edinburgh to be honest. I was too busy living in the moment. Although, that in itself is quite the achievement for me. I know I was on holiday, getting a break away from work and Dublin and everything else, but I am a planner. I meticulously plan absolutely everything. So my lack of daily itineraries is huge.
I’ve never loved a city as much as I love Edinburgh. I know, I’ve never lived there, but I’ve visited so many times. I’ve been on ill-fated trips there, stressful trips there, and trips there when it’s just been windy and rainy the whole time. It didn’t bother me. I’ve felt very comfortable in the city since the very first time I stepped off the plane in 2008(?).
I’ve mentioned before that I live with anxiety on a day to day basis, and going to Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival was something that tested my coping capabilities. It was fine when we avoided the Royal Mile and when it wasn’t the weekend. However, there were times when the crowds were unavoidable.
Luckily, Daire gets it and leads the way through the crowds with his “hand technique”; this is when he outstretches his arm and walks through the crowds because “people are afraid of arms”(?!?). I imagine it’s more the purposeful walk of a man with a large camera, but he is convinced it’s his arm. Techniques aside, he barged (politely) through the crowds and I followed behind. What was most interesting, is that it didn’t really bother me?
Everyone was in a good mood, reveling in the sights and sounds – some brilliant, some brash – of the Edinburgh Fringe. The Royal Mile was hellish during the weekend, but it had to be walked along because the ticket collection point was located there. It was also home to a variety of street performers and artists. We didn’t really stop to look, because there were mimes and clowns (which terrify me), and a couple who looked like they were having fully-clothed sex on the stage (ART).
We walked a total of 80 km over the 5.5 days we were there, because the city is so beautiful it would be a shame not to walk around. That, and the fact that the traffic is pretty bad because the town is, for all intents and purposes, not suited to the number of cars and buses that drive around every day. I mean it was built in the medieval ages…
I don’t really know what to say about the Edinburgh Fringe except that when we got to the airport, neither of us wanted to go home. Not because we wanted to stay going to 3 shows a day forever, but because what we experienced in Edinburgh was something that made us realise we can do what we want. The air of creativity was unavoidable. There are wonderful artisan and craft shops, there are beautiful buildings and there are creative people everywhere. The city is modern with an authentic antiquated feel, and there is so much to do it’s impossible to run out of things to do.
Dublin has become a place that I have ties to: my mam, some friends, the dogs, a group of people I share my co-working space with. The reality is Dublin is trying to be something it isn’t. Dublin is trying to a cool hub for multi-billion industries, while also trying to get students and tourists. People who’ve spent their own lives here are being left behind. Yes, we have a great creative industry, yes we have Google and Facebook HQs, yes we have Web Summit (or part of it), but we don’t have a good standard of living. Our public transport is shocking, our housing is completely unregulated and our Arts scene is only vaguely and minimally supported.
I am enjoying myself and my time here, but Dublin is boring. Maybe I’ve been here too long, maybe too many people have left and come back and I’ve stayed put. I don’t know. What I do know is that every time I’ve gone to Edinburgh I’ve been struck by the vivacity of the people there; they are enjoying life. They are enjoying their city. There is something for everyone to do, and the beauty of the architecture cannot be denied or avoided.
I will live there one day. I will embrace life, take the leap and hope that it works out.