Monday, 13 August 2012

Day 3

My discoveries at the Book Festival today include...

Ben Hammersley was at yesterday's Olympic closing ceremonies... dressed as a priest! Did you spot him?

Forget Russell Brand; it's theoretical physics that students adore. When a group of students discovered that all the tickets to Frank Close (left) and Professor Higgs were sold out, there were tears in Charlotte Square Gardens.

Vivian French once sneezed during acupuncture therapy. Let's just say that she does not recommend it.

When I asked him where on The Edge he would live, illustrator-in-residence Chris Riddell said the floating island of Sanctaphrax, in a small school of learning where he would wear multi-coloured robes. Though he also expressed interest in becoming a spindlebug (left).

Michael Palin has an idea for a Book Festival event next year. His two heroes, David Attenborough and Bruce Springsteen. Discussing Jane Austen. As Michael says, “they'd probably just agree on everything, and hug.”

Edinburgh International Book Festival has its very own “yurt doodler”, Mo. The author's yurt is the Book Festival's green room. There's no photography allowed in there, but Mo is allowed in and she sketches what she sees! Keep an eye on her Tumblr page over the next couple of weeks.

My favourite moment today (actually, my favourite moment of the last two decades) was making Michael Palin laugh. He's my absolute idol, so now that he's shaken my hand, I'm never washing it again. Except just now, because my cat sneezed in it.

When his understandably popular event swung round, I went in early and accidentally became a sort of honourary Front of House assistant, helping set things up. When I sat down, a very nice lady with a very tiny baby sat next to me. So she could take off her jacket, she handed me her programme and said “please could you hold this?” And then her coat; “please could you hold this?” And then her baby: “please could you hold this?” I'd never held a baby before, but I think I managed not to hold him like a coat. And that was how I met the youngest Michael Palin fan in the world (eight weeks old).

My other favourite event today was Colm Tóibín's. Isn't it amazing when someone combines great talent with great humility? It was as if his terrific rhetoric and insightful remarks slipped out by accident.

So on the whole, an excellent day.

Also, I think I've stolen Gordon Brown's pen.

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