Sunday, 16 August 2009
Tradition dictates that the first Saturday night at the EIBF is party night, and so it was! The Highland Park Spiegeltent was creaky with the weight of the many party people who came from far and wide. Susan Rice welcomed everyone and toasted the opening of another three weeks of literary shenanigans in the dramatically lit garden of Charlotte Square, before handing over to this year's guest director Richard Holloway to declare the party started. Five piece electric band Rosy Blue kicked up with a rousing mix of blues, soul and rock 'n' roll while people quaffed curious concoctions of whisky, ginger ale and lime and nibbled at pakora, samosas and dips.
Despite the rising winds, the terrace was as busy as the inviting velvety-red interior. The chatter revolved around Carol Ann Duffy's powerful reading earlier in the evening; how Garrison Keillor's event put a smile on the face that lasted all day, all the more thrilling for his arriving on stage laden with luggage having nearly missed it due to flight troubles. Someone enjoyed the mild stushy between Lyn Gardner and Ruth Wishart over feminism, and recommended film-goers to see the film of Lyn's book, with screenplay by Nick Hornby, due in November. Fashion wise, there was more than one kilt and a fabulous blue cardigan; an unnamed source was heard to remark upon the pleasingly high numbers of attractive women wearing red.
Among the revellers were contemporary Scottish ladies' man Alan Bissett, sci-fi writer Ken MacLeod, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, novelist Ewan Morrison and poet Emily Ballou (who missed her train and was preparing to taxi home to Glasgow to make dinner for Hilda Doolittle. Hilda is 14 years old, and Emily's dog). By far the most intriguing line of the evening goes to this snippet, surreptitiously uttered: 'And of course, she spent her whole life not being able to tell A SOUL'. A novel born, perhaps... People danced. The wind caroused with the trees. The rain stayed away and the fireworks burst over George Street to the delighted noises people reserve for fireworks just as the party-goers started to totter home, tipsy with anticipation of what the next three weeks could bring.