Now we’re on a break from gigging, the race is on to get our flats ready for the babies. Normally at this time of year we’re about to head up to the Edinburgh Fringe and are concerned about how audiences are going to react to what we’ve prepared for them. This year is no different, except we’re feeling the pressure of judgment from our soon-to-be-born offspring instead.
Hannah’s got a shipment of hand-me-down baby stuff all packed up and ready to be sent over from her sister-in-law in Italy. But she can’t get it shipped over until the baby’s room is empty...but to empty the room, she needs to make space in another room in her flat...and to make space in another room in her flat, she needs to throw out a load of her own stuff...and to throw a load of her own stuff out she needs to be ruthless and unsentimental...and to be ruthless and unsentimental she needs a new personality because she likes STUFF and CLUTTER (especially her stuff and her clutter). Fi has been trying to remind her that the only essential thing that really needs to happen is for the things to be shipped over, as they say in Italy, ‘pronto’...but that’s the last thing Hannah’s thinking about - she’s got hundreds of old theatre programmes to find space for, not to mention 15 years’ worth of old birthday cards!
Meanwhile, Fi has been purging her flat of all surplus items with reckless abandon. Her local Oxfam didn’t know what had hit it. Free from clutter (and also possibly lots of things she may later realise she does actually need) Fi found time and space to completely redecorate the spare room in her flat...and then discovered almost immediately that she’s going to be moving out in the next few months, so the baby is never going to sleep in there anyway. But she doesn’t regret it - it felt only right to re-enact one of those 80s movie montages where a pregnant woman in dungarees holds a paintbrush and a tin of emulsion. And it’s lovely to have that ‘fresh toxic paint smell’ permeating every room of her flat in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Just as quickly as Hannah’s been sorting through her stuff, Amazon deliveries of new things for the baby have been flowing into her flat at a rate that’s been baffling her neighbours. You see, a lot of people have advised Hannah to buy baby things, so many baby things - and all of them are ‘The Only Thing’ she’ll need. Unfortunately, dozens of friends, books and websites have all got ideas about ‘The Only Thing’ Hannah needs and she has been ordering them ALL. Baby products have even started calling out to her in shops:
(She didn’t. Who does, that’s the question?)
Fi’s been given the advice: don’t buy anything. ‘Just a few babygrows, a blanket and some nappies is all you really need’. Like nothing else? ‘Nothing else’. So that’s what Fi has settled on - she can always borrow things from Hannah, who has two or three of anything a baby might ever need. The one time Fi did order something else online, she didn’t have a good experience anyway...what she thought would be a pack of thirty breast pads turned out to be thirty packs of thirty breast pads. And when she went to collect them from the post office, ‘BREAST PADS’ was printed in enormous font down each side of the massive box they’d been packed in, which was fun to carry home on the bus.
All in all, getting everything ready for these babies has involved almost as much effort, joy and panic as putting together a show for Edinburgh. And the fear of failure is just as real. What if our miniature audience is not impressed by the way we’ve organised their sock drawer? What if they’re not keen on the pattern on their changing mat? But, as we often ask ourselves in the run-up to Edinburgh, as we fret over the GSM-count of the paper for our flyers or worry about how best to format the show script for our sound technician: are we focusing on the wrong things?