Family: Mum's the Word

The Fringe show must go on - without me


It’s the Festival, so I try Youngest with a female empowerment show. I know.

“I liked bits,” she says at the end. “I wanted to join in the dancing but there were people behind, so I didn’t.”

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

“I wanted to join in exposing my breasts and shouting Smash the Patriarchy, but there were people behind so I didn’t,” I say.

“Yes Mother. My head’s sore. I’m going to the park where it’s quiet. You can stay here.”

I’m off to another show anyway, stand-up, but I’m running late and my friend texts: “Making me go in, see you inside.”

But there’s a strict no late comers policy, the door person tells me, a fleck of stray spittle wicking up the side of their headset, so I retreat outside to neck gin and watch Pussy Riot flyer-ing. They wouldn’t put up with a lock out – inspired I go back inside.

Headset is still there, but the toilets are next to the hall so I pretend to queue, waiting for my chance to sneak in.

“Quite funny,” texts my friend, and “ha, ha!,” then “Finished.”

Sigh. The Gender Neutral toilets queue is restless too, none of the genders represented apparently neutral about the arrangement.

“Anyone in there!?” shouts someone finally, when the queue hasn’t moved (don’t look at me, I was just trying to get into a show).

“Push the door!” says another.

“No! It might be a...”



A man sucks his teeth and says, “Whole new world… you knew where you were with urinals.”

“Yeah, because they stink. Now ALL toilets smell like the men’s,” says someone. Oh that was me, in my head.

“Well,” says a woman with a sigh, “it’s a he in there... been in for ages.”

The door finally opens and my friend emerges, to reveal a whole row of empty cubicles behind him. The queue groans and rushes in.

“What?” he says, as I grab him.

“What were you doing?”

“Texting. You. Verdict on the show.”

“Was it funny?”

“Yeah, very, in bits. But she kept slagging ‘the wife’. Why is it OK for women to do that?”

“Oh gender politics, the power imbalance… never mind, my head’s sore.”

We go to the park where it’s quiet.