|By Matthew Bellwood|
Date: 1 August 2011
I have offered to take my housemate's nine-year-old daughter up to the Fringe with me this year. Not for the whole thing you understand - I'm not an absolute masochist - but she will be with me for the first few days until her mother comes to take her home on the 10th.
Now normally Daisy and I get along fairly well. I tend to see her as a sort of surrogate daughter and she tends to see me as "a big hairy poo" - a state of affairs which seems to suit us both well - but I have to admit that the thought of spending a whole week with her in the guise of a responsible adult is rather a daunting one. Normally we have our own rooms to go to if one or the other of us falls into a mood and there are two other grown-ups in the house to step in should we end up falling out. In Edinburgh we're going to be deprived of both of these safety nets.
What is more, this afternoon, we had our first Ed-Fringe argument. We were sat in the café at the City Museum and I was explaining the fact I was taking Daisy with me to my friend Harriet. "Oh," I said, "I thought she could help me do some flyering and look after me for the first few days while I'm building up an audience."
At this point Daisy removed herself from the cake in which she was buried and piped up angrily, "Oh, thanks Matthew! That makes me feel really great! You make me feel like a tool!"
"What do you mean? What kind of tool?" I asked her rather worriedly.
"You said I had to go and look after you! You make me feel like you're using me! Like I'm a glass of water or something."
It took a few moments to process this.
"How is a glass of water like a tool?" I asked. "I mean how would it look after anyone?"
"Duh! Cos you'd die if you didn't have one wouldn't you?"
"Oh, well yes, I suppose so," I said. "Alright. I'm sorry I said you had to look after me. How about I look after you instead?"
"Aw, thanks Matthew. That's better. You're my glass of water." And she gave me a big hug.
I was initially rather touched by this, although on thinking about it further, I have since realised that she may have been calling me a tool. However, it did make me think very hard about why I'd offered to take Daisy with me in the first place. I've been billing it to her for the past few weeks as a real treat, but in all honesty, the world's biggest theatre festival - despite its large number of children's shows - is not an obvious dream holiday for a nine-year-old girl whose favourite pastime is watching Friends and chatting with other pre-teens on Panfu - (a bizarre kind of panda-based child-twitter for those unaware of its existence).
She has assured me several times that she's very excited about going, but I think the truth is that I'm actually going to get as much out of her being there as she is. There's something rather lonely about doing a one-man show and mine is about as one-man as it gets. I don't even have a technician with me as there isn't any tech and so the thought of having a familiar face about for the first few days is rather heartening.
And so, despite the potential for tantrums and arguments, despite the fact that there will be a whole load of unnecessary extra luggage and despite the fact that it will impact mightily on the time available to see shows, I am really very glad that Daisy is happy and willing to put up with me and I'm sure that she will be a fine addition to the pile of things I am taking with me to Edinburgh.
- by Matthew Bellwood
Any opinions expressed above do not represent the view of Whatsonstage.com nor any of its staff or contributors beyond the bylined author.
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