One thing seasoned bookworms never, ever do is run out of reading material. We have an insane fear of being marooned without a printed word or two to ponder. The world will stop spinning, won’t it?
So last week, after a two-hour drive, I arrive at the beautiful Harmony Gardens in Melrose, home to the Borders Book Festival. What a gorgeous place to sit down and bookworm away for an hour between events. With a view like the one on the right, I can ignore the ugly portaloos behind me! First I pop into the Festival Marquee and attend a recording of Book Cafe. First thing Clare English does is ask the audience for some fine examples of fiction. I should have known the day was not going to proceed as planned when I drew a blank ….. a real mental block … not even my beloved War and Peace came to mind!
After the recording (which is airing on the 7th July) I left the marquee to find that the sun had disappeared, the heavens had opened and I was wishing I had brought my winter coat. This is Scotland after all where all four seasons can be compressed into 5 minutes. How can I have been so naive! A dash across the lawn to the teashop – nothing to beat a cup of the best beverage in the world. Squash down in a corner and get the book out of the bag …. only the book’s with the winter coat …. at home. Calamity!
Fortunately the teashop is sharing its space with the bookshop. Time for a browse. No chance now for the book-buying embargo – the one that was supposed to last until the announcement of the Booker longlist. So it I was that I acquired this book, the perfect match for a perishingly cold and wet Scottish summer’s book festival afternoon.
In Cold Ink: On the Writer’s Tracks – David Robinson
The author is the books editor of The Scotsman and the title a homage to Truman Capote’s seminal faction In Cold Blood. Tracking the blurred line between literature and life, Robinson’s interviews and essays on 20+ predominantly contemporary, predominantly Scottish authors, is perfect for dipping in and out between cups of char. Last Saturday I headed straight to the interview with Janice Galloway in which she relived her visit to the Schumann’s old house in Duesseldorf during her writing of Clara. I followed that with a trip to India in the company of William Dalrymple’s White Mughals (and added to the virtual TBR in the process). Thereafter, I defrosted some more with another cuppa before heading off a very breezy tent to listen to a fascinating talk by Salley Vickers about her Canongath myth When Three Roads Meet.
Great company, shame about the weather. Lest it be said I never learn from my mistakes, I’ve already prepared a checklist for next year: raincoat, thermals, travelling blanket, book!