Day 1 of 26: Bikes and Takeaways of Edinburgh

I used to be fairly good at blogging, but I’ve been inconsistent of late. By ‘late’ I mean the period between 24 years of age and 28. So four years. That’s a lot of late.

Which is why perhaps I view this return to the writer’s room of the intertron with not a little trepidation. I make no promises, in other words. I’ll try to keep this up for Edinburgh. That’s a start.

The festival has begun, although, in contrast to the flurry of activity that has marked other years, I’m struck (as I sit alone in the flat, typing this) by how little I’ve had to do. My show doesn’t start until Friday, which gives me a couple days to settle in. Thing is, this is my fourth year doing the Fringe thang, and my third year in this flat, and my second trip up to the city this summer alone—I feel pretty settled already. So after arriving into Waverly at just after three, I picked up keys from old housemate Helen and new housemates Eric and Angela, came back to the flat, unpacked, got bored, and went and bought a six-week gym membership. Craftily, the Warrender Swim Centre is offering a six-week membership that’s ‘perfect for festival-goers!’ but which fails to take into account the fact that the festival is three weeks. Oh well. At least it fulfills the pathological need to lift heavy things and put them down again I’ve had since I was sixteen.

After that I went to the local Chinese, where the guy behind the counter actually knew my name. I frequent this place one month a year for three years, and this guy remembers me. ‘Hey, you’re back!’ he said, and I was really quite moved. In a weird way, this takeaway is my favourite Chinese restaurant in the world. I don’t think it’s for gustatory reasons—the food is good, but not spectacular. I think I just like the guy who works there, he’s Chinese but has a Scottish accent, and for some unfathomable, vaguely uncomfortable reason, I think that’s really great. I think it might be because he and I have similar experiences as second-generation Chinese people. I always like it when my background confounds people; just the other day I was at a play and a woman asked me where I was from. I said, Canada, which is true, and she goes ‘yes, and before that? China?’ No, lady, some of us are born there. My father is from China, I said, and she intercut with a heavily accented (she was really trying) ‘Guangzhou?’ No, I said, Xiamen, and while she nodded sagely I added, but my mother is from the Philippines. There was a weird shocked silence.

I wasn’t really bothered by that incident, I think the woman genuinely had never considered migration that deeply and was interested more than anything else. Better than the time a dude came up to me after a gig in Maidenhead and said ‘Hey, you know the Chinese-Canadian thing? I think you should drop it, it’s just too unbelievable.’ Uh huh. Anyways, the point is – I think the guy at the Chinese takeaway has probably had to deal with some of the same kinds of things, and that connects us in a strange, cosmopolitan way.

So far, same old same old for this Fringe. But one thing is very different – I’ve brought my bike! I packed my clothes into panniers and strapped a holdall to the rack, put him on a train, and here he is! I’ve named him Samwise, after Samwise Gamgee, because he carries all my stuff. Having Samwise here is excellent, not least because riding a bike I feel just a tiny bit more like a local.

It still doesn’t make you invincible to flyering, though. A drama troupe tried to flyer me while I was riding today. I wasn’t even stopped.


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