In 1984, I slept on the floor of the ladies toilet in venue 333 with my university theatre group. We were performing a kind of cross between Stanley Baxton and Ipsum and existing on deep-fried Curly Wurlys and pints of bitter. This year I'm in Heriot Row, very posh, eating sushi and doing a one-woman show. On every corner I meet ghosts of Edinburgh past. Heartbreak in the colonies, loneliness and despair in Dundas Street, love and exaltation in Macbeth Street. This year I'm here with my three children and have sat through seven early-morning children's shows. My 15-year old girl now wants to take up boxing after seeing Bryony Lavery's superb Beautiful Burnout. Result.
Two weeks in, I wake up with howlingly bad pain in neck and shoulder. Begin weeping at the thought of doing the show. Call producer. Get quipped by a chiropractor and needled by an acupuncturist. Do show in a fog of Rescue Remedy and Ibuprofen, holding back on the head-banging and simulated sex. Ronnie Corbett is watching and said he didn't notice. We sit afterwards on the VIP terrace ofthe Gilded Balloon, drinking wine in the sun. I think I must have arrived.
Last time I was here was 12 years ago with my adaptation of Jane Austin's Emma. It started as a pub reading in East Dulwich and, after an Edinburgh run, is now published having sold out at the Tricycle Theatre. That's the beauty of the festival. There seem to be 10,000 people and 2,000 shows too many but it is still the greatest festival in the most beautiful city in the world. It's the motherland. My name is MacKichan, and I'm not biased.
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