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Very Bad Things

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Today I did something I'm rather ashamed of. I consider myself to be a relatively decent human being, but today I did something that, on reflection, was a trifle rash. At the time, however, it seemed like a perfectly natural thing to do. I only acted on impulse, but then again, the I always end up regretting impulse decisions like that. It's why I'm the owner of a pair of highly sophisticated but rarely used running shoes. And a dance belt.

So what exactly happened? Well I tell you. I was on the Royal Mile walking in and out of cafes and shops, making the owners' day by asking if they would allow me to attach a poster to their shop window. I was on my way from one rejection to another, when I passed by a cafe of the sort that one would only frequent if one is desperate to get food poisoning, or loves eating off sticky metal tables. There was a table outside at which sat a couple, deep in conversation. As I was passing, I noticed that they had a Pleasance programme opened in front of them. It just so happens that the show I'm in is at the Pleasance (Emma Thompson presents Fair Trade - come and see it). Without so much as slowing down my pace, I whipped out a flyer for my show.

Picture the scene. You're in Edinburgh with your loved one. You've spent a lovely morning strolling around and have stopped for coffee at a rather shabby and very overpriced cafe. You're sitting with your beloved, who is whispering sweet little nothings into your ear making you feeling warm and happy. It's all very romantic. Not even the constant blaring of bagpipe music from the tartan tourist shop across the road can ruin the mood. In fact, you barely even notice it. You hold hands across the table and gaze into each others' eyes. You wish this moment would last for ever.

Then, out of nowhere, some idiot bursts into your life. He sticks a flyer into you face. "If you want to see a good show, come and see this. It's great!" He gives you a thumbs up and flashes a smile that makes him look like a person escaped from the asylum, before disappearing into the crowd. The moment is gone. You sit in silence, staring at the flyer, wishing that whoever that was, was never born.

And I wouldn't blame you. I'm appalled at my behaviour. Not once did it occur to me that I might have interrupted a personal discussion (which I blatantly did). I didn't even bother to check if they were even looking at the programme on the table in front of them. For all I know, she could have been telling him some huge piece of information, like the news that he is about to become a dad, or that her mum is finally moving out of their house. Or he could have been informing her about his new lifestyle choice to start wearing dresses and make-up on weekends. He could even have been proposing, although I hope he wasn't because let's face it, a marriage proposal in a mediocre cafe on the Royal Mile is up there in the ranks of rubbish places to propose along with a loved one's funeral and the pub toilets on New Years Eve.

What really disturbs me is that it seemed so natural at the time. Everybody was doing it. I mean it. Literally one out of every two persons on the mile was giving out flyers. I'll bet I wasn't the only person to give that couple a flyer whilst they sat there. Here's the thing: during the festival, it's acceptable behaviour! For some reason, during the fringe, it's considered acceptable to walk up to someone sitting at a table and shove a flyer at them. I can't think of a single other occasion when that sort of behaviour wouldn't get you punched in the face, or at least left with a good earful. Rules of common decency don't seem to apply in this case. I've seen people do it time and time again. People have done to to me. My reaction? I thank them - let me repeat that - I thank them for the interruption and listen to them go on about the show whilst my food gets cold, or my companion loses interest and begins to play about with their mobile phone. How crazy is that? But you know what? It works. That's exactly the reaction I got from the couple at the cafe. Plus I got rid of a flyer.


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