Sunday, 23 August 2009

Glasses very much half-full

We are now halfway through the 2009 Book Festival. Nine days have passed, and another nine days will elapse before the site empties and folds down onto itself like a tired, happy sigh.

But until then, we have all sorts of magic and mystery left to encounter.

Last night saw some fascinating jazz in the Spiegeltent, which tried - and very nearly succeeded - in making Portuguese a sing-along language. Aided and abetted by a tambourine, a triangle, and a drum with a hole in it, they strummed their way late into the night.

Inside the Author's Yurt, the whisky was flowing (indeed, several people commented on the heavy scent of liquor which hit you on entry). It became a place where cultures mixed: the delegation of newly arrived Swedish authors received an unusually gritty introduction to Edinburgh folk in the form of Irvine Welsh. The Yurt even looked the part: a roaring fire had transformed it from a respectable green-room into a fantastical Mongolian speakeasy.

The Yurt is not the only element of the Festival usually shielded from the public. The staff radios carry secret messages throughout the site, and they range from the banal to the ridiculous, often with very little middle ground. There are some tricky elements to radio manipulation: it is easy, for example, to forget just how many people can hear you. This particular blogger recently informed a good twenty or so people that she was on the loo, and just the other day a babe in arms grabbed someobody's microphone and coo'd angelically into the ears of the festival staff. Whether seeking lost handbags in the shape of dogs, or confirming that certain authors have indeed invited their two-hundred-strong audience to the pub after their event, there is always someone burbling away into a microphone.

There have been moments in the last week where you could have been forgiven for believing the site had turned into a dairy. Grahams Dairy have been giving out free milk at Storytime twice daily; there has been so much of the stuff around that visitors have consumed enough calcium to stave off osteoporosis for all eternity. As if that were not exciting enough, there have been bi-weekly ice-cream showdowns, when Graham's give away free samples of ice-cream mere metres from the Di Rollo stall...

So between Highland Park Whisky, oodles of milk, and August's obligatory buckets of rain, this year's Book Festival is turning out to have a distinctly liquid feel.

1 comment:

  1. Magical place, magical time, magical blog! Reading your updates is 'pure pleasure' and is just about the only thing keeping me sane. Miss you all terribly. As the saying goes, love you and love your work! H x