So I’ve got to know our local newsagent on Nicolson Street pretty well. While chatting to one of the shop assistants recently, he declared “Just a few more days left, and then we get our city back”. I agreed. It’ll be nice for a ten minute bus journey to take ten minutes rather than forty. I’m looking forward to seeing our streets uncluttered by discarded flyers and free of leering comedians on huge posters adorned with graffiti and the ghost outlines of controversial stickers.
There are a sprinkling of us locals amongst the Festival Highlights team, and doubtless hundreds more across Edinburgh who benefit from the sudden influx of festival jobs and 5am closing times. And I can testify that the festival doesn’t just invade our city and provide jobs. It totally takes over our lives. I’ve become absorbed in the Fringe bubble that most Festival veterans seem accustomed to, where it becomes normal to skip to the Arts section and ignore the front page, and when celebrating my dad’s 60th birthday was reduced to an item on a ‘to do’ list amongst cuttings to circulate and press tickets to book. When my invisible dog chased cyclists around Bristo Square a few days ago while promoting Lights, Camera, Walkies, it seemed abnormally normal.
We locals have the luxurious option to return to normality with the ease of a bus ride home. On days off I have intended to see shows I’ve read rave reviews about, but often found it’s so nice to stay home and see friends and actually wash some clothes that I’ve rarely left Leith. I think taking these mini-breaks from the Fringe have kept me saner than I had expected to be at this stage, but they’ve also made me wish it was longer. I want to see more things and stay out later and make the most of every free hour!
So even though it’ll be lovely to wander down the Royal Mile in a few days without collecting enough flyers to start a small bonfire, I’ve totally loved being part of this bizarre Fringe bubble and I can’t wait for it to return next year.