awkward – by Zia Ahmed

Zia Ahmed from our Emerging Writers’ Group reflects on a trip to Edinburgh Fringe Festival


I’m back in london
After quick trip to fringe
+ my lips are covered in sores

This has only happened
one other time before
——-
My first day at fringe this year
The flat I’m staying at a like a 40 min walk to Summerhall
It’s the venue I stayed near last year
+ a couple of the shows I’ve been booked in to see are there
I forgot my charger
So I’m walking back
I cross the road
A car speeds up
Goes past me
I hear someone shout fucking monkey
The car turns
I turn
We both screw at each other
I wana shout something back
But I’m not sure how many people are in the car
2 or 3
He slows a little
We maintain screwface at each other
He speeds off
I get into a back + forth with myself
You shoulda said something
Thrown something
+ then what?
Get into a fight?
I was outnumbered there was no point
Yeh what you gona do with this anger now?
Write a tweet?
I pick up my charger
+ I walk to watch my first show of the fringe
——-
I’m back in london
After quick trip to fringe
+ my lips are covered in sores

This has only happened
one other time before

The doctor can’t explain it
He prescribes some medication for me
+ books me in for blood tests
——-

I hum to myself
Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
Homecoming queen?

Monkey
I’ve had worse said to me
It’s not that deep
I watch my first show
But I can’t concentrate
I’m angry
At what’s just happened
+ myself
For not shouting back
For not fighting
Monkey
Monkey
——-
This year is my second time in Edinburgh
I went for the first time ever last year
Both times have been for the fringe
My first day
My trousers are loose
They fit in London
But I’ve got here
+ it feels like everywhere is uphill
I feel like my trousers are gona drop
So I head to Primark to buy a belt
I google maps there nearest one
+ follow the directions
A few minutes before I get there
A policeman comes over to me
Says they’ve been following me for the past ten minutes
Says I’ve been acting suspicious

suspicious how?’
‘you were walking around with your phone at an awkward angle’
‘what’s an awkward angle?’
‘very low + pointed towards vehicles’
‘like this guy? or her?’
‘your phone was directed towards traffic’
‘are you kidding me?’
‘+ it appeared as if you were talking to yourself’
‘I’m using google maps in a city i don’t know looking at roads reading street
names’
‘we need your name + details’
‘gimme yours’
‘I’ll write a report with my number on it + give you a copy after we’ve made sure you’re not on our system’
‘what? What are you stopping me for? I’m not giving you any details. Gimme yours’
the two other police officers who had been standing at a distance come closer in next to the one talking to me

I give them my details
I’m cleared
I go primark get a belt
+ I walk back [uphill ] to watch my first show of the festival
I don’t have to worry about my trousers falling now
——-
My friend tells me
The waiting list for her
is gonna be 9 months

I’ve been afforded space + time to write
a bursary to write a play
I’ve taken a break from being an accidental nanny
So I’m writing + going for walks
+ I’m telling someone about my routine
+ they call me a flaneur
+ it’s fine
but after a while it starts to bug me
a flaneur?

I’m back in london
After quick trip to fringe
+ my lips are covered in sores

This has only happened
one other time before

The doctor can’t explain it
He prescribes some medication for me
+ books me in for blood tests
They don’t find anything in the blood test
They clear up after a week
—-
I try talk about getting stopped by police in primrose hill
but cbt is not really about talking things through
he says let’s talk about what we can control
my therapist is a white man
I like his shoes
he is using lots of car metaphors
Engines + gears
I’ve never been into cars
We map out the week
+ schedule a walk for Sunday afternoon

I hum to myself

Baby monkey
Baby monkey
Riding on a pig
Baby monkey

I watch my next show
Like a monkey
+ then another show
like a monkey
+ all I hear is monkey

it’s not that deep
make it lighter

Baby monkey
Baby monkey
Riding on a pig
Baby monkey
——-
budget

after rent been paid
either bjj or therapy
not enough for both
—–
I’m back in london
After quick trip to fringe
+ my lips are covered in sores

This has only happened
one other time before

The doctor can’t explain it
He prescribes some medication for me
+ books me in for blood tests
I talk to my mate about it
She’s into what she calls hippie remedies
She says for many ailments there’s an emotional cause
I say whatever mate
She says the sores
Were you holding something in?
Not saying something?
That might be linked to it
I say I was doing a show
+ it was so stressful being in the room
The people + the place
As soon as I’d get there I’d want to leave
But I just wanted to get through the week
So I didn’t say anything
She says your body was telling itself to speak
But you didn’t listen
——-
scene

brown man is walking on the street
he spots a white man flyering enthusiastically to all (white) passer-bys
brown man thinks he’ll take a flyer
brown man expecting flyer
white man pulls hand back
white man looks away
brown man walks past
brown looks at his hand
brown man walks back
brown man gestures to flyer
white man ignores
brown man gestures to flyer
white man ignores
they start to chase each other
neither is sure who is chasing who
benny hill music plays

this happens a few times a day
——-
microaggressions today feel like the tardis
they appear one size
but you open the door + it’s way bigger on the inside
+ all the other ones you’ve experienced are there
along with the big arse ones
+ you time travel
from the first one
to the ones inbetween
+ the next one
——-
Tiny violins
Tiny violence
Sores on lips
Tiny silence

Hold me closer
Tiny dancer

confused monkey gif
it’s not that deep

it’s fine cos I’m at the fringe + maybe I will find a show + maybe that show will make me feel ok + maybe that show will make me feel like this trip was worth this + maybe I’ll fall in love with theatre again + maybe I won’t + maybe this trip wasn’t worth this + maybe none of them shows will make me feel ok + maybe I won’t find a show + I’m at the fringe + I’m not fine come save me show come save me play come save me comedy come save me story come save me theatre come save me someone come save me you come save me I gota save me

Don’t push me
Cos I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
Huh huh-huh huh ha

Soften the edges

the book is called poetry to soothe the soul
it is full of white people
+ nature
+ walks
+ no-one shouting things out of cars

when I grow up I wana be a flaneur
—-
walking in tottenham
there is a tiny white flower
coming out the pavement
I take a photo
police come up to me
they say if you’re taking a picture of the bus stop
you’ll need a permit
i say i’m not
they say we don’t know what you might be taking photos of

Starts with a tweet
Then with a thread
Then with a blog
+ then what?

i look through the website
the black, african + asian therapy network
click links to own websites
therapists don’t seem to be fussed about web design
take a while to decide
i pick one
i liked the plants in the picture of her room
—-
i watch my last show of the fringe
is the heat uncomfortable
or the play
or is it cos i see the all white audience
+ in this place
i am turning into an awkward angle monkey
+ these seats aren’t built for me

I tap the base of the bottle
On my forehead
The dull sound rebounds round my skull
Tap
Monkey
Tap
Monkey
Tap
——
The sores start to heal
They start to scab
I smile in the mirror
They start to crack
They start to bleed
Bloody smile

awkward angle monkey kung fu
——–
i wana talk to my friends about what happened
+ how i feel
but they’re going through their own shit
they’re stressed about their shows
+ they’re here in edinburgh for the whole month
i’ve just been here a day

i walk back to the flat
with keys between knuckles
+ clutching glass bottle
just incase
anyway i was craving supermalt
it’s not that deep

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