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Published: October 5th 2019
Relaxing space after hectic days
Edinburgh 2018 August 7 Tuesday
I was woken momentarily by Susan’s departure near 3:00 a.m.
I woke again at 7:00 - too early, but my mind was already focussed on organizing the day. I decided to read for a while and rest. For the length of one cup of hot water I did read, but during the second cup I started to review my printed documents for this day. That took until after 8:00, when I decided that getting food was vital. Many Westwinds people were in the breakfast room, giving us one more chatty breakfast. Although I had planned to take a couple of buses to Buckstone B&B, rain and fatigue persuaded me to book a taxi for 10:30. Packing and meeting the taxi went like clock-work, and less than half an hour later, Kay and Bill were greeting me in Buckstone, a neighbourhood of Edinburgh.
They both said to me, “You are rather sharpish.”, meaning I was early. They hadn’t made a note that I needed to store my luggage before checking in later. Kay kindly made me a cup of tea in the apartment that is my “room” and sat with me at the wicker
Welcoming home in the suburbs
table in the sitting room to identify the locations of my Edinburgh Fringe Festival
performances on her official map. The tourist map from the hotel was useless.
The #11 bus stop to the main thoroughfare, Princes Street
, was about a block away. A friendly passenger showed me how to ask for a ticket and make payment.
Finding my way in the town was horrendous. I could not recognize the bridges from the map and could not see any names on either the bridges or the streets. Working out whether I had crossed the Mound Bridge or the North Bridge was impossible. My sense of direction deserted me, and I walked blocks out of my way. In correcting my mistake, I made more mistakes. The crowds were thick, making it impossible to walk with any speed. Arriving at my first play seemed less and less likely. Having crossed the old town, I could see nothing that indicated George Square
until I was actually in its huge expanse. Everywhere events were underway and people were eating. No direction signs were visible until about thirty feet from a venue, and George Square had a lot of venues. I just kept asking for and following directions,
Temporary turf for two months of crowds
late and fearful that they wouldn’t let me in. At last, I found the studio theatre at the same time as another out-of-breath woman. When we were let into the darkened theatre at a break in the play, I literally was blind. I tripped over a stair, stumbled and grabbed the usher, until she gently pushed me into a seat.
On stage, actresses in heavy, stylized make-up and bright abstract clothes were moving in almost ritual dance steps and slow jazz-like movements. About Lady White Fox With Nine Tales
had captured my imagination because a Korean theatre group was retelling Shakespeare’s Macbeth through the Asian legend about a fox spirit that shapes-shifts, often as a beautiful woman. A mash-up of three cultures!
As the drama moved on, references to both White Fox and Macbeth became more obvious, even though the dialogue was in Korean. Although intellectually comprehending very little, I thoroughly enjoyed the play, because the movements and scenes were so deliberate and purposefully designed to tell the story. Towards the end, comic moments could be understood, some briefly spoken in English. They served to heighten the climactic drama of Lady White Fox committing suicide when she lost her
I rushed by in pursuit of the next event.
magic powers after transforming into a woman for the sake of a faithless lover.
Outside the theatre, thin sunshine woke me up to the here and now – thirsty and hungry. I sat on a bench with tea from my flask and a muffin purloined from the hotel breakfast buffet. I studied my destinations for this afternoon and tomorrow. I had to ask for help from a young performer handing out advertising post cards, something all performers seem to do in the frantic competition for audience.
With a better understanding of directions and refreshed by my snack, I walked to a garden with lots of food stalls. Happily, I spied a pie shop. The chicken and leek pie was full of filling in a crispy hot-water crust. The accompanying beet relish was light and a little sweet – just right. I sat on a bench and watched hundreds of people eating and chatting, including lots of kids playing with each other.
Suddenly, I realized it was 3:15, and I could be late for my next performance, particularly if I got lost. My skill in walking quickly on the sidewalks and sometimes on the road edge was improving.
The Space 14-19 century
Extraordinary exterior of Radisson Hotel
Getting to the Royal Mile
was accomplished almost without hesitation. Then, I saw absolutely no information about “The Space”. A woman cleaning debris from the streets tried to help me, but she had never heard of the location. She asked if it had a venue number. After hastening away, I checked the ticket and did indeed find the site on the map, and then did find the site.
“The Space” turned out to be ordinary conference rooms in the Radisson Hotel, an historic building. A few people were hanging around the doorway when I arrived about 3:45. One Festival volunteer organized the few of us into a line, while another separately told others the line would be allowed to form at 4:00. Thoroughly exhausted, I copied another woman and sat on the floor. Quite soon the line lengthened; as I was at the beginning of the line, I got a front row seat.
“Acapocalypse”, an acapella student group from Glasgow, entertained a sell-out crowd. Two groups of singers each performed six songs. What I would have called a medley, they called a mash-up. The tone was light, the songs were mostly recognizable pop classics. This was a pleasant show for an afternoon’s relaxation. Unfortunately, during the performance my eyes closed several times of their own volition.
Returning to Princes Street, I decided to time the walk to the venue for Simon Callow
’s performance tomorrow, because I really did not want to be late for that. I interrupted myself at Waverley station
to buy a badly needed cup of tea. That was in the approximate area of a small Sainsbury’s grocery store, full of convenience food. Suddenly, going to a pub for dinner in Buckstone seemed like a big bother. I bought green tea bags, a lemon, special cider, cherry tomatoes, and take-away scampi and pasta in a hot Thai sauce.
Buoyed by refreshment and the prospect of a quiet evening, I asked the exit guard at the store if the train station entrance was near; it was just out the door and down some steps. Down a couple of escalators, at the station level I asked a customer service person about obtaining tickets that I had bought online at home. He pointed out the automated ticket kiosks. Sure enough, my Edinburgh to Liverpool ticket popped out. The London to Broadstairs ticket didn’t work, but I may have transcribed the number wrongly into my little notebook.
Wearily I resumed timing my walk for tomorrow and saw a bus stop. When I got on, the driver refused to help me regarding the bus stop in Buckstone – he said he would never remember because he was late already and there were too many passengers. In the crowded bus, I read almost every street sign until the Buckstone Road sign. Almost immediately I saw the shops, which Kay had told me was the marker for the time to stand up and get off at the next stop.
In my apartment I made tea, sorted things, and heated dinner. I couldn’t find a bottle opener and invaded the privacy of the home and found a gadget carousel. The daughter came out from her shower to investigate and found the opener for my cider. Dinner had to be reheated, but it was not bad with some TV for distraction.
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