What gets me through the Edinburgh Fringe? What makes me want to go to a place filled with pretentious arseholes and desperate attention seekers? How can anyone find a reason to go to a place where every single day is taken up with dodging flyers and other people's good reviews? Fucking slow moving tourists constantly in your way and sitting through your good friend's bullshit "show" in a damp, boiling hot anus of a venue. How the hell can anyone survive a day knowing they have to walk under that underpass just before Bristo Square? It's fine at night time. You'll probably just be shot or beheaded but during the day it's a piss-soaked, concrete nightmare filled with street untertainers. Halfway through Fringe, I passed two musicians who stopped playing so one of them could say "Shall we hang this song and grab some chow for the gang?". It is the single most spiteful and disgusting sentence I have ever heard. I mean, how the fuck do I actually function at this festering festival without killing absolutely every single person who has ever lived? Well, for me every day has a highlight and that highlight is my show. I love doing my show because when it's over I can go back to my rented flat and open the front door.
God, I loved opening that front door. I remember the first time I did it. It was right after my first show and I was miserable. My show wasn't a show. It was a 10 minute collection of Post-It note scribbles stretched out to 50 minutes. The walk back to the flat was depressing. Is this how it's going to be every single day for a month? Do I really have to perform that terrible bag of bollocks every day? Then I got to the flat, took my key out of my pocket and slid it into the keyhole.
And I mean it slid. Listen, guys, I am telling you: you have never felt a smoother action in your life. It just eased itself in. I have just never felt anything so smooth in my life: Satin, the hide of a thoroughbred horse, pouring baby oil on the flesh of a thousand supermodels. Sure, those things are smooth but this key went into that lock like liquid pouring into a crystal bucket. That door opened with the gentle ease of Diana cutting the ribbon of a freshly opened care centre. I glided that key softly into that lock and it wasn't just a door I opened, it was also my mind. Has anything ever been so gentle as the movement this key and lock afforded me? My mind raced. This Fringe has just got interesting.
Every day, it was the same. I got addicted. I had to feel my key in that lock. I sped through my show and bolted from the venue. My head so full of what was to come, my body electric with excitement. I ran. I ran all the way to feel that perfection one more time. Sometimes I'd come to a halt at the gate and just look at the door for a while. I just wanted to stand there and look at it. My eyes as gentle and loving as key and lock action itself. Is it raining? I hadn't noticed. Then I'd walk slowly towards that door and, although my hand was firm, the motion I took was tender and I was inside.
My show was improving. Of course, it was. I had found a muse. But even on the show's very best day it was all I could do not to rush back to that door. Every day, that beautifully smooth action awaiting me. I felt like I could have thrown my key to the lock and it would have easily floated in. But I never wanted that. I wanted to feel it. I wanted to feel that beauty in my hands. Nothing else around me was important. Yeah, yeah, sure. I suppose it's good that the Edinburgh Awards went to two Free Fringe shows and a show at The Stand and therefore now no one can justify charging £10,000 to hire out their venue but really, that pales into insignificance next to my Fringe. My key. That lock. That perfection.
I sit here now on my deck, refilling my pipe, and I think of what I had. Last night, as I took that long train journey home, a tear rolled down my cheek. At home, I unpacked and as I opened my suitcase what did I find? My key. I'd forgotten to leave it behind.
Forgotten? Never. I'll be back.