Dear Edinburgh Fringe,
Look, you know I love you. We've been together for 15 years now (remember?! I was handing out flyers on the Royal Mile. You were the Royal Mile). I adore you.
You move me, you entertain me and I can't stop talking about you to my friends. No other festival even comes close to making me feel the way you make me feel. Not even Glastonbury that one time.
I don't quite know how to say this, but I think the performance poet Lily 'Rose' Allen put it best in the title of her award-winning 2009 Edinburgh show: "It's not me, it's you."
In other words, Edinburgh Fringe...
You've got fat.
I'm sorry. But I'm saying this for your own good.
Fifteen years ago, when I was first introduced to you, I felt I could take in, well, if not all, then an awful lot of what you had to offer. You showed me your wares, and I lapped them up. In the Pleasance Courtyard, usually. Ah, the Pleasance Courtyard! Which was once the only place for us to gather. Now, I don't know whether to hang out with you there or in the Magner's Pasture, the Gilded Garden or the three bars at the Underbelly Cowgate. To name just five.
Now, don't get me wrong: I don't mind having more places for us to relax, Fringe. But when it comes to the meat of you - well, that's where I have to say, you've got so huge that I find you overwhelming.
I know you're very proud of your vital statistics - 2,695 shows over 79 venues, 964 of which are comedy - but it's all a bit too much. I try - I really do - to enjoy the must-see parts of you, to not have a sense of regret over any part of you that I'm missing, to distinguish between your numerous charms (2,695, to be precise). But you're now so big that it's practically impossible to do these things. I look around me and all I can see are stars - so many stars! Four stars! Sometimes five! Everywhere! I feel like I've been hit over the head with a mallet in a Tom And Jerry cartoon, wandering around woozily, seeing nothing but stars and unable to focus. I do my best and pick a show, but am instantly filled with fear: what about the no-doubt mostly brilliant 2,694 shows I'm not seeing? How am I going to fit them all in?! I'm overwhelmed by talent and creativity! Help! THOMAAAAAAAS!!
What I'm saying is: it's very hard to cut through the noise (and I'm sorry, but you've got noisier, too - it's an inevitable side-effect of weight gain). Comics who spend thousands of pounds to spend time with you are now competing against a thousand other shows, or at least a thousand other posters. And those who come up here to see you only have a limited amount of time and money. Especially, these days, money. Sadly, they don't have enough to feed your ever-increasing appetite, and unless you have a bubble gastric band fitted (I hear these are available on the Scottish NHS), I fear that your bubble is going to burst. As many say it has this year. That's right: other people are saying you're fat, too. Sorry.
Like I say: I love you, Edinburgh Fringe. From the bottom of my heart and wallet. I love spending time with you. I just feel terribly sad that as you grow larger and larger, I'm inevitably missing out on more and more of you. Could you go on a diet, please? Get a little leaner, be a little more manageable, perhaps? We've all had to tighten our belts, so why not you? And look: if you don't agree, then maybe you should just embrace your size and come back next year with a fringe. They're very slimming! Just look at Jessie J.
Yours with love, chips and cheese*,
*That's right: you're making me fat, and I suggest you also address this 'feeding' issue.
Follow Andrea Mann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AndreaMann