My years of doing the Edinburgh Fringe for the full run reach double figures this year. And like most 10 year olds I'll probably be celebrating with a lot of sherbet dabs and a bit of a cry underneath a table.
After writing about comedy for four years I first came up to the Fringe for a week in 2003 staying along with several others - including a whole family fleeing the political situation in one of the 'Stans - on the floor of the notoriously hospitable Irish Iranian comedian Pat Monahan. Strangely we seemed to move about the flat staying in different rooms according to whom Pat had lent his bed to that night. One night I squeezed myself on a patch of floor down the side of the double bed in a ridiculously small double room leaving Pat and the comedian Steve Williams (he's now one of the main writers for Russell Howard's Good News) the bed. Somehow it felt safer that way. On another myself and Pat slept on ukulele playing Ria Lina's floor like some kind of student party.
Coincidentally it was also the year I copped off with my fella (neither of the aforementioned residents of Monahan's bed) who's a comedian and now it's much easier and cheaper sharing a room with him for the month rather than someone you only met in June at a comedy club. So we return each year him to put on a show on and me to review shows. Then somewhere around our anniversary we nip out for a bag of chips and eat them on a park bench in commemoration.
It also means that I usually end up sharing a flat with other comedians so there's always a list of people it's not advisable to review unless I want to make it feel awkward over the Coco Pops of a morning. So far I've survived being smothered by a pillow in the middle of the night but watch this space...
There are some things that it's compulsory to do on your way to the Fringe. If you're travelling up from the south (well Manchester) like we are you have to stopping to say 'hi' to the ducks at Tebay services on the M6 near Kendal. Though try not to wonder why all the ducks appear to be female and they sell duck pate in the farm shop.
Also spend the first evening before the onslaught begins spotting comedians (even better if you've already spotted one at Tebay) from the upstairs of the City Restaurant on Nicholson Street having consumed your first deep fried object of the Fringe - it's a cliché but got to be done (even if it's only a potato). I'll never forget the hue that one of my flatmates turned when she decided to have a deep fried pizza on her last night at the fringe. In fact it's a colour I've got in the hallway at home.
And before you know it you're into the first lot of previews and feeling bad about having to review shows when the acts are so fresh they're still sporting the same startled look Bambi when his mum was gunned down.