I’ve just submitted my final review for the Kids Section of Fest. There’s still over a week of the Edinburgh Fringe to go, but the working part of my festival is over. Hurrah!
It has been a very different experience to previous years doing Fest. Last time I took on a section editor role, I was still a student with few responsibilities. I went to all the festival launch parties, stayed until 3am, and flashed my press pass at anyone who looked in my direction. If there was a party I hadn’t been invited to, I had the necessary chat and chutzpah to blag my way in. I survived on a diet of cheap wine, free beer and Boots Meal Deals, and spent most of my time in the office, without any sense of whether it was day or night.
This year I haven’t been into the office at all; I’ve done all my writing and editing from home, either in the evenings or while DorkySon naps. I’ve had no invites, no parties (gatecrashed or otherwise), and I lost my press pass in the Meadows Playpark on day three. I’m still waiting to find out if I can get a babysitter, so I can go to the staff meal on Monday night.
It has been a bit odd, to see a very different side to the festival. But, in truth, it has been the best ever. There have been so many pleasant surprises and fun moments.
Number one surprise was the guys at Fest. How nice it was to have an employer who treated the fact that I have a two year old as a selling point, rather than a hindrance. “Great!” they said. “We’ve never had anyone with a kid write for the kids section before! You’ll bring so much knowledge and experience to the role. We’ll really appreciate your perspective.”
They went on to tell me that I could sort out my own review schedule, and fit my work around DorkySon’s nursery hours. “Don’t worry about showing up to the staff meetings,” they said. “We’ll just give you a call afterwards, at a time that suits, and let you know the important stuff.”
As long as I got the job done, the captains of the good ship Fest didn’t care too much how, when or where I did it. Well hello, rest of the world. It is totally possible to be a family friendly organisation, if you choose to recognise the benefits that can come from employing a mother or father.
The second surprise was that the majority of press officers and PRs had the same attitude (although if you’re asking me for a clear winner, Kelly and the Assembly Team get the DorkySon loveliest attitude award, by a mile). They were happy to arrange interviews around childcare, recommend age-appropriate shows, and take ten minutes out of their busy working days to coo over DorkySon while I got my tickets sorted out. In Edinburgh, this August at least, the age-old stereotype of press officers suffering from collective child-hating stink-eye did not ring true.
There have been plenty other moments worthy of note, but it’s late, and I have to be up to flyer for DorkyDad’s show tomorrow morning, so I’ll do further highlights tomorrow