Saturday, 25 August 2012

Day 15

Lots of discoveries from Day 15 at the Book Festival.

Look! There on the left! It's Horace the Haggis. He's from Sally Magnusson's children's book, and he's been wandering happily around the Book Festival today with great aplomb. Black & White Publishing have put together an enjoyable little collage of Horace's day out in Charlotte Square Gardens.

As Chris Hoy is normally a blur, it's difficult to hold him still and check if it's really him, but – yes – it's been confirmed – that was the Olympic champion himself visiting the Book Festival. He was watching his great uncle Andy Coogan's (left) event this evening.

Jeremy Paxman confesses he couldn't dance to save his life. Not that he was expected to dance in his event today. But he did mention he was once out with some Anglo-Indian people who were doing the jive (as in the ballroom dance style), and when complimented they said sincerely that they “got their natural rhythm from the British”. The audience laughed for about five minutes when Paxman told us this.

You've seen – or at least heard of – the Lewis Chessmen, but have you noticed how utterly despondent they look? 'Horrid Henry' author Francesca Simon has, and today she shared her theory as to why they are so gloomy. They're real people, frozen and shrunk. You'd be at least a little bit frowny if that happened to you.

Censorship has been a sizzling hot topic at the Book Festival this year, and this morning Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy reminded us that she herself was censored by Britain's biggest exam board back when (as she puts it) “Meryl Streep was Prime Minister”. Carol Ann Duffy's 'Education for Leisure' was thought to be a potential provoker of knife crime in schools.
I don't know about you, but I kind of like the idea of some knife-wielding teenage hoodlum being influenced by a poem.

The other day, Nile Rodgers persuasively re-branded the Book Festival “The World, In Words (& Music)”. From the talented trills of M J McCarthy, to the veritably touching song of Michael Morpurgo (left), to the eclectic mix of musicians that have performed at Unbound over the last couple of weeks, the Book Festival has enjoyed a truly successful soundtrack this year. And it's wonderful what music can do. Just today, woodwind musician John Sampson had a packed audience bent double with laughter, and he didn't have to say a word.

Oh go on then. Let's admit it. Let's admit it so we can embrace it. It's been raining – a lot. The humming of rain on the tents, the whisper of drizzle on the green grass – it's all been damply atmospheric. And what do Book Festival fans do in the rain? We sip hot coffee in the Signing Tent, stretch out in the Bookshop – oh, and laze around on the deckchairs in the rain, of course. Preferably with an ice cream.

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