Well here I am. Again. Edinburgh. The place I come every August for just shy of a whole month, but an event around which the whole year seems to revolve. I’m back in the same flat we rented last year so it feels almost like the last twelve months haven’t happened and I’m still here, a doll that fell into a nap, reanimated by the braying of approaching revellers. Like a sleepy nymph of Bacchus, waiting for a pat on the head to awaken her. I’m sat at the same kitchen table – rustic worn pine squiggled with markings that hint of late night debates and civilised smoked tea breakfasts, edges beveled by fraternal elbows. A chap called Quintus rents it out every festival – the whole flat, not just the table, though he’d probably find some student company willing to bed down for a cut-price rent while they peddle their a capella musical version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He presumably uses this month’s long cacophonous ego display as a sane man’s excuse for a holiday. You might as well make some money and dash for the highlands when the city is invaded by nutjobs. If I wasn’t one of those nutjobs, (and I owned expensive property in a nice part of one of the world’s most beautiful places) I’d definitely do the same.
I like this place. It feels like home now, but I suppose a place where you’ve had a month of condensed experiences with all the highs and lows and sideways emotional jousting of Life is always going to feel a bit familiar when you return to it with your carefully managed hopes and your battle scars.
Dear Quintus left a lovely ‘welcome back’ note that made us coo like cosy pigeons, with some bread and eggs and butter and wine and fruit and oat cakes and soft garlic cheese and most importantly the wifi code. I have done the obligatory space check. The re-acquainting perambulation of the place, the respectful hands-behind-back stalking of the book shelves, nodding sagely at his choice of art and colours, as though I’m walking around the drawing room of a stately home, reading the visual language and all that it tells us about people.
He has very good soap, our Quint. You can tell a lot about a man from his soap. And his books. I like both his choices in this matter and I’ll be sure to inform him in the form of a hurriedly written slightly mental note when I leave; a husk in four week’s time. And I don’t know if he shoved it at the back of the drawer for the rest of the year and got it out like Christmas decorations, but a flier from my play last year, Pramkicker, is on his fridge, held in place by a cute fridge magnet. I don’t know if our Quintus is a bit of a flirt, but that stuff definitely works on me. We’ve got a future, me & he. Even if that future is never actually meeting but me nodding approvingly as I finger his white sheets the same time next year when he goes on a yoga retreat to Bali with money I should have spent better.
Now that the August home has been settled into, my clothes flung around his room most never to be worn, all that remains is the rest of the city. The world outside. The show and the people and the inevitable madness. The toil of fun, the searing self-doubt, the mini unpredictable surprise glories should there be any due, and the knowledge that no matter how tired and emotional I get, however battered by whatever is coming for me, I am a very lucky girl.
Sadie’s new play Fran & Leni is published on Tuesday by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama.
It is playing at Assembly for the entire run of the Edinburgh Festival 2016.