In which I return to tedium…

So tomorrow is September. Which is a good month, in general, as it is my birthday month! All the best people were born in September, you know. Examples include Buddy Holly, Paul Walker, Beyonce, Freddie Mercury and Oliver Stone. Yup, that was 10 minutes, three websites and about 42 clicks I’ll never get back again.

Also, that Peggy Mitchell has some slap on her, hasn’t she? I just saw an ad of her “best bits” (hehe, carry on dearie, carry on…) and she must have slapped at least 8 out of 10 characters ever to appear on the tough streets of Walford. Since I harbour dreams of becoming Pat Butcher when I grow up, I was a little affronted to see how many times Peggy whacked her across the face.

The song in my head (earworm, I believe it is called…) at the moment, is Baby’s Coming Back by Jellyfish. I have no idea why…

Someone on the tellybox is explaining how stone age people ground grain to make bread…something to do with rocks and wild geese, oh no, wait, yeast. Makes more sense that way, admittedly.

I wore a new dress today…it was lovely. My winter boots (yes, it’s that cold here in stupid Scotland (sorry Scotland, I love you really)) don’t go with it though. Obviously this means I must purchase new boots…

If you haven’t noticed yet, I am feeling a tad unfocussed. Mainly because work is mental at the moment and I have to dedicate all my meager brainpower from 8am onwards to that with a fiery, fiery passion. Also, because the *Fringe is over and my social life is about to plummet. PLUMMET. I am dull every other month of the year…so this blog is probably going to get much more entries (yay! I hear you say), but they are going to be extraordinarily dull (boo! Sad but true).

Ho hum…

*Also, I have no idea why the picture of my Fringe tickets is sideways, but apologies anyway!


August on the wind-down…

So *August is almost over! That was a bit of a whirlwind, wasn’t it? Not only did I go to a zillion shows (with two left to go to), but I also powered through a heinously busy period in work (which may lead to some exciting news towards the end of the year), took a few personal issues to task, had an excellent bestie reunion, watched Beaches for the first time, almost lost my life/sanity due to an ill-timed author query AND experienced the most horrendous rage as a result of a stupid person without losing my temper…could I be learning control? Is it possible? Probably not…

My control (ahaha, every time I re-read this I think of incontinence—I have no issues in this department, however. Just to reassure you) has been much, much better recently. Which is nice, because although I rarely (thankfully) show my temper (because it’s no one’s issue but my own), it does stick in my mind for hours and hours and causes Extreme Sourness.

Anyway, that was a little segue in to the inner rage of Muddled (me), because what I really wanted to update you on was my Big Booker Challenge progress…of which there is very little, tbh. However, I did warn you this would happen. (AugustEdinburghFringeWorkAugustEdinburghFringeWorkAugustEdinburghFringe)

Anyway, I am 90 per cent of the way through Warner’s “The Stars in the Bright Sky”. I wish I could give an accurate, objective, intelligent assessment of the text but, alas, I cannot. My utter, utter, OVERWHELMING hatred for Manda, one of the main protagonists has blinded me. Which is good, when you think about it…surely the whole point of reading is to draw you into the character’s world, to make you empathize and experience…and holy heck, do I empathize with Manda’s put upon companions. I would have smacked her in the face with a giant mackerel almost instantly. But that’s just my opinion/reaction and maybe, once I have read the entire book, I will have something different to say.

*Also, Christmas is FOUR MONTHS AWAY (cue maniacal cackling.)

In which I panic…

Today I got an email that scared me senseless. The sender flashed in the corner, I clicked it open without thinking, and then I panicked. Bright red flush, rereading the content…then getting up and running over to someone who could calm me, give me advice.*

Now, the content of this email was not rude, or nasty, or calling me a useless, ridiculous girl (everyone assumes that they’re going to receive that email, right?). On the contrary it was lovely, chatty, with one or two pertinent questions thrown in. And I have no idea why it panicked me to the extent that it did (it did warrant some concern I’m not completely insane but, unfortunately, a measured response was beyond me).

I always have that fear. That fear that someone has spotted a mistake, that you have done something wrong. Like when you go on holiday for two weeks then have to log on for your first day back…am I the only one that assumes that you are going to walk in to the office only for your desk to be boxed up with a cutting post-it note perched nattily on top, saying merely “Ahahaa, don’t bother sitting down…we’ve all figured out you have no idea what you are doing. Leave now and don’t come back”? Yes?

It may be an editor thing…we spend our days checking and double-checking, wielding a red pen and an eagle eye. There is always the concern that, after spotting, amending and asking for clarification on someone else’s errors, they are going to turn around and smugly point out everything you’ve done wrong. I swear, I die a little inside when I re-read an email sent to an author, or get final corrections in for an article with that misspelling, that extra comma that I should have spotted but didn’t. Is it not enough that we torture ourselves? There isn’t an editor I know that hasn’t, at one stage or another, frantically opened file after file, or sat up in bed in a cold sweat, concerned that they have sent something off with the incorrect name on the book, the wrong year on the journal (ok, I may have actually done this one…)

Editorial karma? I think it must exist. Am I the only one this happens to?

* After this “excitement” I did threat go join a convent in order to get away from the stress of everyday life. Don’t think I’ll carry through with that one, they wouldn’t let me keep my iphone…

Overzealous? Yes! (Or; Experience the Fringe, or Else!)

I’m sure you have noticed…I enjoy attending events at the Fringe. And the International. And the book fest…even though an unusual lack of planning has meant that I am not attending any book events this year. Well, apart from one, maybe.

Anyway, I like to go to these things, comedy shows, music gigs, theatre pieces…if it looks good and there is more than moths in my purse, I’ll give it a go. And for the most part, this has lead to excellent nights out and joyous discoveries of performers whose shows I return to year after year. (Well, I’ve only lived in Edinburgh for three, but you know what I mean…)

There has only been one disaster, we went to see a show at the Thistle Hotel, called “Gilbert, or Death by Obituary”. This is the description…and I take massive issue with the use of the word “skilfully [sic]”.

How can an obituary writer find self-fulfilment when he lives in a town where nobody dies? When he’s befriended by a lonely old woman, we learn of the three worst deaths of his life in this multi-character black comedy skilfully performed by one actor.

Anywho, the guy was scary, thought shouting the lines was the same as expressing an emotion, was visibly annoyed that only 11 people turned out to see his show…all of which I could live with…until he got an erection. Now, this wasn’t part of the show. It just happened. But it did make a performance I already wasn’t enjoying 100 million times more awkward. And I couldn’t leave. Couldn’t. Because there were only 11 of us and for two to leave that tiny crowd would have been insufferably rude.

So, there you go, the story of Gilbert, the obituary and his erection. That was a bit of a tangent, what I meant to discuss was how I am overzealous about the Fringe. Why wouldn’t you want to go see these world class performers? Why, oh why wouldn’t you want to exploit a series of fun, interesting, cultural, intense events going on in your immediate vicinity for a whole month?

But it seems I am in the minority. The amount of people (from Edinburgh and surrounding environs, or who have lived here for quite a while) who tell me they ignore the whole damn thing is shocking! Actually shocking! They “don’t bother”. It’s a hassle. The sheer volume of people on the streets renders it irritating. “I just never get around to looking at the brochure.”

SERIOUSLY PEOPLE?? This makes no sense to me. But I am beginning to think that my attitude to the Fringe makes no sense to them. So, it seems, we are at am impasse.

I do think that growing up in the bog-end of nowhere has shaped my reactions. When I was a young’un we lived 30 minutes away from any form of fun. And even then, the fun was limited to the cinema. Which parents had to be begged to take us to. The nearest nightclub (that would let in 16 year olds, hello misspent youth) was an hour away by bus. Now, when I say misspent youth, it wasn’t really. Our parents all knew where we going, there was just literally nothing else for teenagers to do. And at the end of the night, the bus driver dropped us straight to our door—handy! The gigs that did go on were held in Dublin…which was a fair bit away. Now, I’m not bemoaning my sad teenage years, they were amazing in general. This has all converged to create a culturally greedy girl. Oh well. Such is life.

So what do you think? Would you ignore the Fringe? The International? The book fest? Am I really just an overzealous country bumpkin?

*The Fringe so far…

So, as a follow on from a previous blog post, the Fringe has kicked off in Edinburgh and it seems like everyone hit the ground at a flat run! I know I did…

Thus far, the Fringe has been going for seven days. Preview dates (whoop, half price!) and two for one days (also whoop!) are over. So in the seven days since it started I have been to see seven shows (three of which started at midnight)…which is, frankly, insane. I have never been so exhausted. Yesterday, I stared at my PC (yeuch) screen for five minutes trying to remember the name of the book I was working on…five whole minutes. Why I didn’t just look at the file name is beyond me, but as I said. Exhausted.

What I’ve seen so far (in order of viewing):

Des Bishop: For some reason I had convinced myself I don’t like Des Bishop. Then I went to see his show last year and it was good. I find that he delves fairly deeply into the human condition, there is more emphasis on the emotional that is usual in stand up, I would say. This show was no different. Titled “My Dad Was Nearly James Bond”, the show focuses on Bishop’s father who has stage four small cell leukemia. So this is an emotive topic and there were some upsetting moments. But overall, Bishop handled the crowd mood well, successfully bringing us back to a peak after some particularly morbid chat.

Verdict: Worth a look, he’s Irish American and has got undeniable swagger.

The Penny Dreadfuls: Oh how I love these boys! I first say the Dreadfuls in 2008 and their Victorian era skits had me howling with laughter. I missed them last year (in an obvious bout of insanity) and regret it now. Their 2010 show is excellent, clever and funny and joyfully hammed up at just the right moment. Best bit? Oh all of it, but if I was to choose, it would be the Twilight skit—I almost peed myself! This troupe (can you call them a troupe if there’s only three? Is there a number limit? Anyway…) are undeniably talented. And I may have a crush on one (or all) of them.

Verdict: Go see them. Go now. NOW. Run, don’t walk.

Best of the Fest (night) and The Late Show:

Line up for the night:

Lee Nelson was MC. I can’t remember who was on first. Which should tell you all you need to know. Second and third was Arj Barker and JimEoin, who was quietly hilarious, which should never be underestimated.

Terry Alderton was the final act of the night—brilliant. Absolutely stellar. Not sure what his material was actually like because he spent the vast majority of the show taking down a heckler. He torn him to pieces (verbally). It was really very impressive and as a result I would definitely go see his full show. Rage always impresses me.

Verdict: Meh. Really, meh. It was a good night but not incredible.

The Late Show was brillaint! Keith Farnan was on first…he was good, very good. I was a bit surprised at how mild he was considering the title of his full show is “Sex Traffic”. Then there was Danny Bhoy (gorgeous), with some genuinely hilarious chat, the best of which was a piece about cat vomit. Finally, there was Carey Marx, full of subversive, hilarious snippits. This was much better than Best of the Fest, they had a better way with a late night crowd…keeping in mind this was on Sunday night, I was already exhausted and the gig finished at 3am, I was laughing until the end!

Verdict: Go for it! Excellent night…just sleep beforehand.

Ok, there is more, but this post is long enough…and have I mentioned I’m tired? So very tired.

*See, Precise Particulars of Pensivity, not every post has to start with “In Which…”. I’m growing as a person, dammit!

In which I pen an ode to Edinburgh in August…

clears throat

“Hey Edinburgh, you’re so fine,

You’re so fine you blow my mind.

Hey Edinburgh!”

Thus endth the ode. It is a particularly crappy ode, thoroughly unoriginal, stultifying mundane and does not truly depict the utter fabulousness that is Edinburgh in August.

I’d imagine that a lot of people (in the UK and Ireland especially) will have heard of Edinburgh Festival season—there’s the Fringe, where the worlds most talented (and possibly some of the least-talented-but-rich) comedians and performers congregate; the International festival, full of opera, dance, music and drama; the Edinburgh International Book Festival, when Charlotte’s Square (the most symmetrical square in Europe, btw) becomes filled to the rafters with writers and publishing types; and last, but not least (to coin a cliché) the Jazz and Blues festival…it’s just a week long (at the moment) but rumour has it it’s a blast! The film festival also used to go on throughout August but they, thankfully, moved it to June. It is almost certain that had all five festivals continued to run concurrently the universe (and ALL of Edinburgh’s accommodation providers) would have exploded.

It is intense. August in Edinburgh is insane. The population quadruples and you can’t throw a stone but for tourists (this is fine, I love tourists and as an Irish person in Edinburgh I am officially not allowed to comment. However, if you are a tourist and you are going to walk at snails pace/stop suddenly to admire Edinburgh’s stunning architecture/gather in large groups right in front the shop I want to enter…then please…well, don’t. Or do, because that is your right, but be aware that I will be cursing you silently). Anyway, waiting for the bus is a trial, queuing to get into the gigs is long and, lets face it, this is Edinburgh in summertime, it rains All. The. Time. Couple this with the venues…oh the Pleasance, it’s amazing BUT ROASTING HOT. Like the fires of hell are chasing after the comedians and their audience…

Anyway, I positively adore Edinburgh at all times but particularly in August (just in case I was being unclear). It’s almost like the city is taking a deep breath and expanding…stretching to take on the joy and rain, and unrestrained arty-fartiness. There are few better feelings than leaving a show, giggling to yourself all the way home (via the pub…) and then waking up in a good mood the next day. For a whole month.

Part if it may also stem from living in the fricking wilderness for a large part of my formative years…to go from having minimal (buy tickets, book hotel in Dublin, get very expensive train to dublin, go to concert, get train back to wilderness) opportunity to go to concerts and other gigs to having a vast, dazzling array of world class performers within walking distance of my flat is an immense pleasure.

This is why I am incapable of showing any form of restraint come June when the various festival booking lines open. This is the reason I have not purchased the iPhone 4, and why I have eaten cereal for lunch for the past six weeks. But it’s worth it—I have booked 13 different things so far, with the intention of booking more come August payday (PayDay)…I will be exhausted, poor and possibly in danger of liver failure…but I’ll be happy.

In which I want to get something done…

This isn’t technically true. I don’t want anything in particular done, unless someone wants to tackle my pile of ironing? (Ahahaaaa, this isn’t even true because I don’t iron. At all. Ever.) Now that you are sickened by my straolishness (“straoil” is the Irish for slut and is one of the five Irish words I remember), I shall meander aimlessly towards the point.

If you want something done, do it yourself. Or ask a busy person. We’ve all heard these adages. And we all say them, because it’s true. If you need something done sharpish, ask a harassed mother. She’ll hate you, wonder bitterly why you can’t get up of your arse and do it yourself…but she’ll do it.

This isn’t only a harassed mother trick, it is also true of my authors. If something falls through, which happens from time to time (this is fine, it’s no one’s fault, it’s certainly not as if I arranged this in January and all of a sudden you don’t have time to do it…you know, seven months wasn’t ample enough opportunity…ahem, ok, rant over), you can always arrange a substitute author, of equal or even greater knowledge, at shortish notice. Especially if you ask someone who is particularly busy.

I get emails from very busy lawyer-type people at crazy hours of the night. They are more coherent, knowledgeable and intelligent at 5.30am than I am at 9am, after my first cup of coffee and a good breakfast! It’s actually a little frightening…

So why is this? Why are busy people more likely get things done, and done well, than those who have less on their plate? There is the cruel explanation—that perhaps they are less inclined to be busy (lazy buggers)—or, more charitably, they are just better at saying no. In a professional capacity though, does the disinclination to say “no” and the ensuing whirlwind of activity mean you are a better worker with more ambition, or just a suck up? And, is it better to be busy and productive or to live in a controlled environment with the ability to say no…it’s a toughie.