Friday, August 22, 2008


Turning up to the festival this year is a bit like arriving late at a barbeque where it's been raining all afternoon. After a month of solid rain, everyone is sodden. Last year was bad enough, but this year the city flooded.

Those young ladies of student theatre are still wafting around in calico slips and flip flops, while the boys still slump around in t-shirts and afghan scarf-ette things, which really can't help. And yet, you can tell that the rain has got into their souls. The flyering is less hectoring, sometimes suprisingly honest.

"Look," said one yesterday, "They've only been getting four or five people in, so it'd be nice if you went," - like a duty visit to a sick relative in hospital. Then the masterstroke: "And you wouldn't have to go back outside, either..."

By the end of the first day, I am soaked. Worse, I'm staying in a £180-a-night kitchen. Some nightmare of modern student living, it's all steel breadbin and giant oven, with a bed cowering uncertainly in the corner. While we dry out over late vodkas, Rick perches on the bed, Kate wedges herself by the pan cupboard, and I perch on the breakfast bar.

We stand outside to smoke. There's nothing explicitly forbidding smoking in the room, but the receptionist cooed "If you plan on using the toaster or the hob or the shower, the smoke alarm is a mite over-sensitive, so could you pop the extractor fan on?" This is a nice way of saying "It'll go off if you even look at a pack of Camels."

So that is why I'm standing in the street at 3am. It has stopped raining, and I'm wearing all that I own that is dryest. Which is a pair of board shoots and a jumper.

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