The Emperors New Clothes

My Best Friend floated #The Edinburgh festival as an idea. I said I was keen and she booked the Air B&B. I was supposed to book the train tickets because we were travelling on my rail card. In the end, she booked them because she could get the website to work and I couldn’t. We were both supposed to come up with shows together. She did the shortlisting as I just couldn’t read the font on the website because it lost clarity once magnified. I booked the tickets though.

The ticket office redirected me to the telephone number reserved for patrons with access needs. The access needs number redirected me to the ticket office and that’s how I discovered Freddie in the ticket office who, together with his colleagues made booking easy. The idea is that you turn up at a venue, they know you are coming and you say; “I’m an early access patron” and they let you in first, so you can choose your seat. No further explanation necessary.

The Best Friend whispered to “get your cane out” as we approached. I declined on the grounds I’d already explained the situation and didn’t need to give an account of myself twice. It’s a sort of “its my cane and I’ll cane if I want to approach”. It only went off piste once when I had to explain. My explanation of being registered blind was met with a thumbs up and “Super. That’s Great”. I know what she meant.

I like to sit in the front row. When I can’t work something out, I dig Best Friend in the ribs. She leans in and gives a narration. Over the years, she’s whispered some pretty odd things in my ear, including the fantasy text accompanying #Tracey Emin work. Galleries have an echo quality all of their own. Best Friend and I both enjoyed the notion that a casual passer by might mistake her reading aloud for expressions of unbridled desire for yours truly.

The inevitable happened. Best Friend doesn’t like loud PA systems. It was Stand Up. It was loud. We were in the front row. On strides #Eshaan Akbar, says hello and he’s barely had time to finish introducing himself when she’s moving because it’s too loud. She legs it in a sort of crab style squat to the back of the room. “why you leaving?” says Eaashan. She is giving a fulsome account of herself when the jokes start coming thick and fast, at her expense. I enjoyed it.

Then there was The #Underground Railroad. This might have been one occasion when being in the front row and losing my narrator was no bad thing. Best Friends’ neck couldn’t take the front row so she sat behind me.

The Underground Railroad got slaves over the border to Canada during the civil war. I’m not a total fool and I know that power, and sexual violence and oh so much more play a part in the history of slavery and racism. But strooth! So much nudity and so many faked orgasms were lost on us. I had always been under the impression that people smuggling is a largely clothes on activity. As I said to the flasher in East Finchley circa 1981, “I can’t see detail”.

I think we were sold a dud! The woman I met, on the way out, said she’s been to see the show three times. I wonder why. I know I missed something, but I’m not sure what!

In the spirit of feedback, here’s the review that best Friend and I got on Air B and B.

We …..”were lovely guests. It was great chatting to them and they were quiet, clean and considerate. Highly recommended”.

I’ve largely got the Best Friend to thank for all of this.

2 Comments

  1. Sal Lauder

    Fantastic writing Anna – reminding us with a great dose of humour that we don’t all experience the world in the same way and some people have challenges that we don’t often “see”…..making us all blind?

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