Tuesday, 1 September 2009


September is the cruellest month. After almost a month of books and banter and parties and gaiety and days of adventures that are 'ever-changing, always beautiful' (in the now 3 year old words of EIBF photographer Pascal), and meeting people both new and exciting and comfortably familiar, the circus leaves town. Just like in that amazing poem that Carol Ann Duffy wrote in Harry Patch's memory, everything begins to happen in reverse. Books are packed up. The tents come down. Computers and cables and lights and microphones and chairpeople are returned to their rightful places. Goodbyes replace hellos. Cruel month!

So we shall have to focus on the lovely things three weeks in Charlotte Square brought to get us through. A roll call of honour, in no particular order: the press pod massive banter factory; the moon shining on Prince Albert and the seagull who sat on his head; lounging with a mint choc chip ice cream when the sun had his porkpie on and wearing wellies with a tweed skirt and adopting a war time spirit (the tweed helped) of keep calm and carry on when it didn't; quietly tapping one's toes over lunchtime jazz and big soup; jostling about in queues of people who just want to discuss the event they've been in, or the one they're going to; the woman who told Antony Sher, when signing a book for her son, to inscribe: 'be exactly who you want to be'; the unanimous audience reaction to Raymond Blanc's account of eating squid in Japan; Raymond Blanc in general; Carol Ann Duffy's beautiful poem, 'Inside the Yurt', for Catherine Lockerbie on her departure; people swaying and clapping in the aisles to Emmanuel Jal; the thrillingly large queue for the Scottish Poetry Library's 25th birthday event; Chris Close's work-in-progress photo exhibition 'Between the Lines'; Charlie Connelly taking a photograph of himself with a backdrop of audience to prove to his mate Steve that he did manage to make it to his event, having been in Dublin a mere hour and a half before; a well-timed bookshop brownie run and Claudia's cockaleekie soup; taking visiting friends for a quick nosy round and ending up tipsy 3 hours later in the middle of some hugely digressional conversations wondering how on earth that happened; brilliant Johnson's knowing exactly how to blag free strawberry tarts and pecan pies and one's fortuitous proximity to the press pod when this happened; Helen's glorious return and that stookie; the yurt girls' charm; audience member: 'Mr (Alistair) MacLeod, please tell us you are working on something new...' AM: 'I hope to, before death'; moths in the Spiegeltent, Gruffalos in the Yurt; overhearing this prime cutlet en passant the Spiegeltent: 'well I couldn't possibly tell you. Oh go on then. Brace yourself...'; meeting people, both old friends and new; parties; gaiety. Books.

Hurray for this cosy blanket of memories, of good times, good people and great banter to keep cruel old September's chilly blast at bay.