On Tuesday my Fringe flu arrived, out of season. It’s traditional for the comedians, actors and probably the flyerers to collapse into soggy heaps, working their way through entire boxes of man-sized tissues whilst watching daytime TV at the end of August, but here I was, in the middle of the action, with an entire head full of gunk, a throat lined with barbed wire, and about seven shows to get through.
If my years in comedy have taught me anything, it’s that audiences are really not as sympathetic to a clown oozing tears and snot as that crying bloke in the opera makes out. Also, techies hate it if you sneeze on the microphones.
Drugs were needed, and fast. Naturally, I headed to Boots. Maximum strength capsules seemed to be the way ahead. I bunged in a packet of Lemsip, just to be on the safe side.
Two capsules on the bus, a swig of water and I felt nearly human, aside from the fact that my sinuses felt like one of those executive wave machine toys you got back in the 80s. I was heading for a meeting. I like meetings. You nearly always get free coffee and biscuits and you don’t need to give blood.
It’s a measure of the effect the Fringe can have on a performer when you go into a packed boardroom, look at the number of folk around the table and think, gosh, good turn out, who flyered for this? Even worse, you assume the woman taking the minutes is a reviewer.
Halfway through the meeting, I reached into my bag and found that Lemsip. Ooh I thought, just the dab. A spot of hot water from one of those vacuum jug thing and a lovely comforting drink.
I had forgotten the earlier ingestion of weapons grade flu buster capsules.
Ladies and gentleman, I was sitting in a meeting pretending to be a grown-up whilst completely off my face on over-the-counter medication. I have no idea what I said but I have a horrible memory of bursting into a quick chorus of Oklahoma, giggling like a gremlin and eating all the custard creams. Hope that nice lady hasn’t minuted it.
Still coasting on the wave of Lemsip, decongestant and custard creams, I lurched off through the city to get to the New Town Theatre. Being ever so slightly off kilter makes the Fringe even more bizarre, if such a thing were possible.
I had an intense conversation with a polar bear about vanishing ice caps. He was flyering for his cousin’s show. Global warming, he said.
Did I realise London could just vanish beneath the waves if the icebergs all melted? Well, I said, that sounds like a win/win situation. Not that keen on London and I’ve never got over the fact that the Titanic got totalled by an iceberg.
All the polar bears, I said, can go live in Kensington. Gotta be better than that oaf Boris Johnson. I took a flyer to be polite and left a weeping polar bear in my wake.
There was a slightly alarming moment where I thought I was being flash-mobbed by a horde of tiny wizards, but it turned out I was standing outside yet another Harry Potter shop, which, intriguingly, seems to sell exactly the same stuff as the other one.
He Disney get it
Things had settled down by the time I stumbled on to the Number 10 home, just in time for the fireworks. “Ooh!” Shouted a little American boy in front of me. “ it’s just like Disneyland!” From behind him came a rumbling voice, ‘That castle’s real, laddie’.Touché, mate.
Ye Ken what, Mr Inflatable Man won’t be scaring the children
The end of the Fringe is in sight and we’re all going a bit stir crazy. Petunia the poltergeist really never got her mojo going in the New Town Theatre this year, but perhaps she was happy to play with her new friend, Mr Inflatable Man.
He’s down in the basement. We don’t really know where he came from, but he’s been wandering about downstairs like a little lost soul all through the Fringe.
The problem is that he’s very inflated, like Mr Trump’s ego, and we have fans and air-conditioning all over the basement.
As a result, he tends to rather drift about, and on one occasion gatecrashed a children’s show.
My young friends tell me he’s the male equivalent of one of those horrible blow-up dolls that one can buy in shops where the windows are all painted over, and you have to ring a bell to get in.
Well, if Petunia’s friend was purchased with such nefarious purposes in mind, I assume the purchaser was grossly disappointed.
He bears a striking resemblance to Barbie’s boyfriend Ken in one key area, which was why we weren’t too bothered by his unexpected appearance at the kids’ show.