Warning - Book Festival

Edinburgh residents now take for granted the fact that driving through the centre of town is an adventure in new tramwork diversions daily, the sudden appearance of temporary traffic lights in the most unlikely places, and yawning chasms of gas mains excavations. But driving round Charlotte Square on my return to the city I was amazed to see new signs setting a speed limit of 20 miles per hour because of...'pedestrians on road'.

My first thought was 'well, get them off the road.' But on mature reflection I can see it's not as easy as that. The gardens in the centre of Charlotte Square are the venue for the Edinburgh Book Festival, and the road round the square is one of the major diversion routes of the tramworks. It's a racetrack with double decker buses, with the tented Book Festival as an oasis in the middle. Add to that pedestrians of a literary bent, whose thoughts may well be elsewhere, and I can see the point of the signs. It reminds me of the method of disposing of garden snails, which is meant to be more humane than zapping them with chemicals - gather them up and release them on the concrete island in the middle of a busy roundabout...

With that image in mind, here are the Book Festival patrons hurrying in and out, early on Saturday morning.

I can't give you the benefit of sound, but the man at the right of the shot was promoting a show of readings of John Betjeman's poetry, and right beside him was a Big Issue seller. A rich tapestry indeed.

No Book Festival-going for us this year. I didn't get organised, and besides, it gets expensive year on year. A couple of Book Festival events, something on the Festival Fringe, and a main Festival production and whoa, where did the money go?! On a walk round I could see what I might have booked given time and money.

Perhaps the session with Malorie Blackman for my daughter, who loves her 'Noughts and Crosses' trilogy. The session with Paul Stewart and Chris Riddle of 'The Edge Chronicles' might have been interesting.

For me, definitely Michael Morpurgo. My son loved 'Kensuke's Kingdom' when he was younger, and my daughter 'The Wreck of the Zanzibar', and I love everything I've read by him. Maybe Henning Mankell? I haven't read the Wallender books, not being a crime novel sort of person, but Fredrick at Ystad Daily Photo has piqued my interest. Not Sandy Mcall Smith - he's a great speaker, but I've heard him several times and demand for tickets is intense, so I'll give someone else a chance. Demand probably isn't as high as it was for J.K. Rowling - when she appeared at the Festival the phone lines burned out within minutes of booking opening. Finally, definitely not Irvine Welsh. I must be one of the few Scots who hasn't read 'Trainspotting' or seen the film, and I'm very happy without that experience.


  1. Hangs head in shame.....I've never been to a book festival. Not that I wouldn't jump at the chance....we've just never had one.

    Can I come to yours next year???

  2. Nothing like that happens in my neck of the woods, but it looks like an interesting place to be!

  3. I love book fairs and always find lots of books that I would like to buy.
    Then I make a trip to the library and I can read anything I want and it's all for free!! :-)

  4. I wasn't sure if the pedestrians were being warned to stick to 20. It sounds like chaos on the streets. I am envious of the book fair.

  5. Besides Sandy, the names are new to me - except for Mankell, we read Depths for my library book club (the one that does talk about the books). I hated, hated the book (which does not happen often)- his writing is good, the main character was pure evil in a mundane sort of way. Mr. Mankell probably meant for the reaction to be that way, but I just don't want do spend my time reading stuff like that. And I did not have a chance to go to the book club that month, so I don't know what others thought about it. I might give his mysteries a go on a book-on-tape.
    I'll keep Mr. Morpurgo in mind too.

  6. A hospital I worked for a while back used to have book fairs in the dining area of the cafeteria twice a year. They were quite a treat for the employees, as well as the visitors.

    Welcome back to the blogging world; you were missed.

  7. PS - I suppose things could be worst, it could of been 20 km/hr sign. :) I like the photo of the sign against the sky, it really popped up on my side blog roll.

  8. That looked like fun having it outside. I would have probably gone to see McCall Smith. Mankell is familiar but bloody police stuff is not usually my genre.

    There is a very big book fair in Helsinki too but that´s usually in the middle of winter and inside in a large hall. Good for bookworms.

  9. The book festival looks great fun, I would be in heaven.

    I'm glad to hear that Alexander McCall Smith is a good speaker, maybe one day I'll get the chance to hear him. I am currently reading his Scotland Street series.....and all because of your post featuring said street!

  10. Snails- top tip: Tap with hammer- place on bird table!
    Putting good food on the road endangers thrushes. Harvest your snails as a resource for your bird feeder!

  11. Alistair Gray would get my interest- he is a real great in my opinion.
    I used to get to hear him in the bars of Glasgow's West End fairly regularly in the eighties- I hope is better dressed for the festival!

  12. The only author I saw at the book festival was Garrison Keillor. And a good choice, I think. Very entertaining.


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