So week one over for the festival. The last time I was in the Edinburgh Fringe was 1995. I had been in shows from 92 up to 95 but up till this year 19 years had elapsed. An enormous amount has happened in those years. Drama school and living in London for 6 years, moving back to Edinburgh, getting married, having kids, getting divorced, nana dying to name the biggies. In that time the fringe has probably doubled in size but so has my impatience with negotiating my way around the city centre at this time of the year. I tried to remember what it was like then. What I was like. The excitement and expectation of every new day and the fun to be had. The lack of sleep, the smoking, the drinking. The glee at securing my fringe club pass which allowed access to the somewhat grubby student union like club at Teviot for fringe performers which had us partying and drinking god knows what till around 3am then dragging ourselves round to Negociants for yet more drinking till chucking out time at 5am. Sloping off home bedding down around 6am only to arise early afternoon ready to repeat it all again. Oh and somewhere in there I’d be in a show too. In a way that was insignificant. It was the whole party atmosphere and excessive abandonment that was enticing to me.
This nonsense went on for the whole bloody fringe. Weeks! Yes I know I was considerably younger then but I was always there. Could never say no to going out – again! It was as if I was frightened I’d miss out on a fab night if I didn’t go but in reality every night was much the same as the one before and the one before that.
This year it is a very different experience. Of course I’m older and wiser now but this kind of event and being part of it would have been my green light to excessive drinking. It seems very natural for me now not to drink. I hardly think about it and have very little urge to knock one back for a quick fix. I feel and am thinking as a teetotaller and I am pretty content with that.
Tomorrow I am going to see a recommended show called ‘Blackout’ which was devised around interviews with recovering alcoholics. I am really interested to see it and although I wouldn’t call myself an alcoholic more a person with problem drinking I’m sure there will be moments of connection with some of the feelings and thoughts, maybe even stories conveyed.
I am very happy having spent the evening down the beach with my kids gorging on the most ridiculously mustard/ketchup smothered hotdog with onions ever and later once home enjoying a cup of Earl Grey, a Freddo frog and twister ( come on it is Saturday after all) listening to the bangs outside of the Tattoo fireworks and feeling glad not to be in town right now.
Yeah I know a lot of that is partly down to my being on my way to old fogeydom but it’s also a choice. Last year whilst my kids slept I would be sitting here drunk on a Saturday night through choice but this year I choose not to and as time passes it stops being a choice and more just who I am. Back then drinking foolishly made me believe that I would be more popular but I forgot that when I was sober people liked me too. It was more a question of did I like me. I don’t think I did then or refused to believe I was likeable without the social relaxant of alcohol now sober I see myself and my life more clearly and am learning to like myself and more importantly be kind to myself. We are too ready to give ourselves a hard time. Constantly beating ourselves up. Eternally self critical. I acknowledge that this is human nature to do so but rather than wallowing in the self pity that alcohol gave me leaving me to emotionally abuse myself in the morning at how awful and weak I had been I am now kinder to myself. More rational and allowing myself time. Time to feel; time to heal; time to live.
Ps 131 days