Edinburgh Jaunts: Part Three

September 19, 2010

For the concluding part in my trifecta of Edinburgh trips, I went with just my mother. I always feel weird typing “mam” on the internet, which is what I call her in actual real life. Being from the north of England does not make for classy speech, but that is her name, so from here on whenever she is mentioned, she will be “mam”.
This was the longest I stayed in Edinburgh out of all three trips, as we were going to be there for two nights and three full days. I was jazzed. I became instantly unjazzed when, as soon as we arrived at the hotel, I got a migraine. The last time I had one was when I was maybe 14, and I got sent home from school and got to watch cartoons all day. But now, I am a grown-up! I have funny gigs to attend, dammit! Boring story short, we wandered all through the street of Edinburgh, bought some tablets to ease my pain, and I was fine in about twenty minutes. Yay health! Speaking of which, we went to McDonald’s.
We were back at the Pleasance Courtyard, queueing for David O’Doherty (who is a lovely actual real man with huge hands, if you ever meet him), when we spied Tom Wrigglesworth just milling about in the crowd. Maybe he was stalking us. Maybe we were stalking him. It was difficult to tell at this point.
I’ve seen DO’D gig three times, and this was the first proper venue I’ve seen him in. The seats were so comfy! And we were right in the middle, and three rows from the front. I tried not to make eye contact with him for most of the night, rigid with fear in case he picked on me to be hilarious and I would fail miserably. He didn’t pick on me, and I later learned that Jimmy Carr had been in the crowd. Phew, escaped that comedic minefield. That was a close one.
For breakfast, the hotel didn’t even have beans. Is this a Scottish thing? Sheep liver but no Heinz nearby? Instead of eating my feelings, I spent them in Topshop. I am usually morally opposed to Topshop, because they make fat girls look fatter, which is something only a fat girl would say, but following on from the bean fiasco I thought I’d grant myself a pass.
My mam and I sat on a windy tour bus for a while, as I tried to ensure her hand was not dangling her camera over the side of the bus in her haste to take pictures. It was. Numerous times. This is one of my irrational fears. Like nails touching glass or terracotta. It just shouldn’t be done, you mental.
Before our next gig, we went to Gusto’s, which I think is actually a chain of restaurants. As you’d expect it was pretty nice, but when it came to ordering the chocolate mousse they did not inform me that it would come with a load of shit on top of it. By shit I mean nuts. By nuts I mean WHY ARE THEY ON MY DESSERT. The menu did not mention them. What if I’d been allergic, rather than just really finicky? Where would we be now?
At a Rhod Gilbert gig, probably. It was honestly the worst gig I’ve ever been to. I’ve seen him do tv stand up, and it’s been decent. Recently he did a documentary-type programme where he had to adopt the professions of others for a week. That was hilarious, so I had moderately high hopes, as this was my mam’s choice.
She enjoyed it, which is all that counts I guess. He did a similar thing to Tom Wrigglesworth, with patching up all of his anecdotes, but this was less a quilt of amusement, more a Bayeux tapestry of shit. It didn’t really pay off, but that’s just my opinion. And the man sitting next to me, if his general stony silence was anything to go by. He recycled his jokes, there was a fucking huge amount of swearing, and he mentioned how women never listen. Lazy comedy I thought, and I’m not a comedy snob, but I like to think I’ve refined my taste what with all this here gig watchin’.
The next day, I skipped breakfast entirely. Bed is better than substandard nomz, I think. My mam and I then wandered round a graveyard for a bit (morbid) before going into The Elephant Cafe, where JK Rowling wrote most of the Harry Potter series (not so morbid). Rocky Road is delightful.
We settled on nipping into the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch, and apparently Kevin Bridges had the same idea. I didn’t harass the man because he was both eating and Scottish, which is a dangerous combination. Although, I did engineer it so we both left at the same time, and I’m sure people thought we were together. Ahh, simple pleasures. I was semi-famous by proxy for half a second.
After all that excitement, it was time to come home. Too many paps were following me, and my autograph hand was tired.

Edinburgh Jaunts: Part Two

September 19, 2010

For my second of three visits to Edinburgh I decided to go with my parents, because I am a good daughter and they pay for most things. This trip was the one I was perhaps looking forward to the most, because we were going to see Bo Burnham. I cannot even convey in text form how much I want to be Bo’s friend. I’ve loved Bo ever since my friend Jeremy thrust me in his general direction. It was one of my greatest thrusting experiences to date.
Because Bo wasn’t going to be gigging until 9.30pm, we had some time to kill during the day. We flicked through the impressively weighty tome that is the Edinburgh Festival Guide, before deciding to get tickets for Tom Wrigglesworth. James and I had seen him at the Radio 4 taping earlier in the week, and I knew he’d been on Russell Howard’s BBC3 show, so all signs pointed to funny.
And he was, really. He did a 50 minute show, telling little anecdotes throughout, and did a 60 Minute Makeover style reveal at the end when all of the anecdotes knitted themselves together in a quilt of amusement. He mentioned that Jeremy Kyle had told him that he looked like Leo Sayer. He doesn’t.
We dossed about in the Pleasance Courtyard in between gigs, where I proceeded to have a small mental breakdown. This was my thought process:
1) What if nobody comes to the gig? How well known is he in this country? I’ll be heartbroken for him if nobody turns up.
2) Fuck, what if nobody but us comes to the gig? What if we’re the only three people in the audience? How awkward would that be? Surely that won’t happen. Will it?!
3) Was that someone from Hollyoaks?
At this point I paused my inner musings to ask the question aloud of my mother, who sort of recognised him too. Neither of us watches Hollyoaks. I was probably asking the wrong person, in fairness.
When we stood up to make our way over to the venue, we passed a blackboard with a list of performers that had sold out for that night. Bo’s name was amongst them. I was so relieved, I danced my way over to the gig. Our seats were directly in the middle, and positioned in such a way that, had I been so inclined, I could’ve watched Rhod Gilbert, who was sitting in on the gig too. I looked at him once. He looked sort of amused. I went back to Bo. He looked tall.
Bo was incredible. Two years of enthusiam for his music made it worthwhile. I’d recommend it with every fibre of my being, even if you’re not into his YouTube stuff. Honestly, it’s astounding how much talent he has.
After spying on Matt Green in the student uni shop afterwards, and then buying Snapple which we proceeded to forget about and leave in our hotel, we went home. Seeing Bo Burnham made my life. Epic. So epic.
Although, I’d have been far too intimidated to talk to him. Give me a less than satisfactory John Green meeting any day, but Bo would make me a vibrating idiot. More so.

Following my experience at the John Green book signing, my boyfriend decided to avenge my disappointment. As all nerds should do, he wrote a strongly-worded email without my knowledge. Here I present the brief conversation the pair had, upon my behalf. I feel awful about this, I really do. Although, the last email was written whilst I was bawling down the phone, snotting sentences at James for him to include. Enjoy!

Hi John,

I realise that you probably won’t reply, whether because you are a
busy guy with a lot to do or because you say on your website that you don’t reply to e-mails anyway, but I thought I’d send this just to
set my mind at rest.

My girlfriend and I were at your talk and afterwards your signing
events in Edinburgh. She’s the reader and viewer of your show and
also, quite a fan of yours. It was her main reason to go to Edinburgh
and she thoroughly enjoyed the talk. However, she felt a bit let down
by you at your signing event afterward, which was quite a shame. She
had brought along one of your bobbleheads and asked you to sign it.
It was kind of you to sign that and the book and I can appreciate the
huge amount of people queuing, however she said to me afterward that you didn’t actually look her in the eye when you spoke to her and
were a little dismissive.

I realise there’s nothing you could do now as the time has passed.
However, from what I know of you I imagine you wouldn’t like to have
given that impression. I just wouldn’t be the person I am if I didn’t
mention it to you. It may have been just another fan in a long line,
but this was a big Nerdfighting fan that has bought all of your
books, the bobble head, and saved and paid for a stay in Edinburgh
herself. It was just a bit of a shame that her experience and, I
suppose, opinion of you was dented a little by this; after such a
build up for her she walked away feeling like she wasn’t really

Not really expecting a response, but hopefully you read this at least.



Hey, James,

Thanks for your note. I appreciate the honesty and I’m sorry that your
girlfriend had a disappointing experience meeting me. I’m really sorry
if I failed to engage her while signing. I’d been up all night jetlagged and as you point out the line was long, and I was crushingly
exhausted. This is not meant as an excuse so much as an
acknowledgement of the inherently problematic situation: from my
perspective, I was doing something I’m frankly really bad at–meeting
strangers–after having flown across the ocean at my own considerable expense. This is a legitimate interior experience but of course from the also legitimate perspective of your girlfriend, she had supported and liked me for a long time and then I signed her stuff for four seconds or whatever and then moved along with the line.

I don’t really have a good solution to this problem, although it
really bothers me. It may be that the best solution is just not to
travel, bc I feel like the competing narratives of that signing
experience are both totally legitimate and also totally irreconcilable. Like, every person in that line is so awesome, but the nature of the line is that if I spend a minute with each person the festival is going to be furious because I’ll be signing for four hours when I only have the table for 90 minutes. So instead we end up with these fleeting and inherently superficial interactions that may in the memory of my readers prove to be WORSE that not meeting me at all.

At any rate, I really am sorry and again appreciate you letting me
know about this. Please tell your girlfriend that she is awesome for me.

Best wishes,


(So, I’ve ruined all future John Green sightings for Nerdfighters everywhere, but we did get a “Best Wishes”. Swings and roundabouts.)

Hey John,

I very much appreciate you getting back to me, as I didn’t really expect
it, no doubt you get a huge number of e-mails often. It’s nice to know
that you are reading each one. I do understand the constraints you were
working under whilst in Edinburgh as well as that you were suffering
from the effects of jet lag.

It wasn’t so much the time that you spent talking to her, Laura, and all
of the other fans, as both she and I could see, there was an incredible
line of fans waiting to see you. It was more that she didn’t think you
looked her in the eyes that got me, as I just see this as a little
impolite as a large proportion of the line had also traveled quite far
at great expense to themselves also. Maybe not as far as across the
Atlantic, but a number wouldn’t have an income to support the trip or,
like myself, live in the same country.

However, one thing you said in your response bothered me a lot. I would
hate it and myself if I was to persuade you not to travel to the UK or
anywhere else for that matter. Laura, as well as the huge number who
turned up to see you, were all incredibly excited before during and
judging by the Youtube and Twitter response, afterward also. Although we
didn’t attend the gathering as we were pushed for time, those that did
appeared to have a great time. I don’t want this minor thing to sour
your taste of the Fringe or the UK in general and Laura and I feel a
little guilty that I’ve put the thought into your head of not traveling

I also don’t want you to have the impression that Laura had a wholly
disappointing experience in seeing you. It was only the small inaction
that upset her a bit. However, what upsets her more is the idea that,
since I sent this e-mail, she has upset you as you would not have done
this intentionally. We both realise this and are not trying to be
obstinate for the sake of it, but I wouldn’t be the boyfriend to her or
person that I am if I didn’t say anything.

I really hope this doesn’t stop you from returning to the UK as this is
a simple oversight and doesn’t have to be a big issue. I just did not
feel right leaving it without saying anything. The fact that you have
acknowledged this e-mail and replied in the manner that you have is more
than enough for us both.

Thank you and all the best,


PS. Laura never forgets to be awesome.


(The parts where James is nice about me he wrote himself.)
I thought it was admirable that John replied at all, and I’m pretty grateful for that. This whole thing sucks, but let’s all move on now and talk about THE POPE, or something.