Rob Gilroy

On the Fringes

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The Edinburgh Fringe programme has been published and it’s the hottest ticket this summer!

Only, it’s not. The hottest ticket this summer is to a certain unspecified wedding. Mine. It’s my wedding. I’m getting married. Lucy has agreed to marry me. The lucky invitees will have front row seats to the greatest show on earth. Although, I’m repeatedly told that it’s technically not a ‘show’, despite the intermission and ice cream concession.

The rest of you unlucky eunuchs will have to make do with the Edinburgh Fringe; the world’s biggest arts festival and international cheaply-printed flyer convention. The programme has just been released and it’s another jam-packed line up of contrived concepts and abstract interpretations of things you never realised needed interpreting abstractedly.

I won’t be there, for obviously reasons*. And you know what? I’m OK with that. For one; I desperately want to marry the woman I love, and two; my heart isn’t really in it anymore. And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from wedding preparations and documentaries about botched organ transplants; if the heart’s missing, then something’s gone tits up.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Fringe festival; the vibrant atmosphere, the striking architecture, the Mosque Kitchen. I’ve had some exciting moments experiencing opportunities I never thought possible; great memories shared with friends and family; as well as the time Lucy and I stayed at a mad woman’s house and spent a fortnight being force-fed dubious cocktails while watching said mad woman dancing with a Dalmatian. It was bleak.

All in all, my experiences there have been uniquely varied and that’s why, at this time of year, I start to regret not submitting an application to the festival. Despite the early bird deadline whizzing past faster than Roadrunner on heat, I usually find my mind alive with ideas for shows. I begin to think of the great people there and the places I always mean to visit but seldom do.

When I really think about it – I miss it.

But for the rest of the year, I don’t. I don’t miss that feeling in your stomach, around December time, when you should have a better idea of whether you want to apply or not. I don’t miss the judgmental advice from others, when you realise they’ve written off your show before you’ve even put pen to paper. I don’t miss the pressure. Not the pressure to perform, I love that. Why do you think I’ve booked a wedding? I miss the pressure that builds in the run-up to the festival – the pressure that tells you there needs to be an end goal.

Despite every bit of advice telling you not to pin your hopes and dreams on this four week run in a renovated cellar that serves Holsten Pils, you can’t help but start to quantify every decision you make. Every gig you do could lead to something. Every reviewer might be in tonight. Every contact you make could be the one that helps you. Every show you watch is most certainly better than yours.

The last time I performed at the festival, I became incredibly anxious. Suddenly all the fun and enjoyment of taking part began to ebb away, replaced with a cynicism and competitive nature that was neither helpful nor attractive in a person. I knew it was silly, but the idea of ‘making it’ at the world’s biggest cattle market really started to get me down.

If it hadn’t been for Lucy, I’m sure these thoughts would have driven me mad or at the very least, to street performing. And yet, with her by my side for the entire run, I was able to quell the doubts and start enjoying things again. So this summer, I’m doing something much more fun. I’m marring Lucy. Gone are the rehearsals and rewrites, in come the chair covers and aisle runners.

Even a wedding as intimate as ours, feels like a grand affair. But unlike the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I don’t have to worry about the outcome. I don’t have to assess whether or not it will be good for my career; marrying Lucy will be the best decision I ever make. I don’t need an end goal, I just need her.

*see: marriage.