It’s still book festival season here in Lanarkshire. Edinburgh International Book Festival in August is followed by Wigtown Book Festival in September and the North Lanarkshire Words Festival in October. (And next year, I’ll be adding the new Bloody Scotland International Crime Festival in Stirling to the itinerary …. I simply cannot wait for that – if the organisers are listening, (pretty) please invite Fred Vargas!) All of the above are within reasonable driving distance for me. So last weekend, which was distinctly autumnal in feel (please note all those in England who were basking in 26 degrees) I donned a thick woolly cardigan, jumped into the car and drove south to Dumfries and Galloway to Scotland’s National Book Town.
Welcome to Wigtown.
I was hoping to show you the glorious golds and browns of a Dumfries and Galloway autumn. No such luck. Instead the day was awash in the greys of a typical Scottish day.
Cast your eye to the white marquee just right of centre. Behind that are 3 more and the county buildings, tucked away top right. That’s the book festival venue. Surrounding it on both sides are an array of second hand bookshops. Ever so handy for
staying dry between events book browsing – whether you’re searching for that elusive green penguin …..
or an orange one …
Perhaps you’d care to add to your Folio Society collection.
The bookshops allow you to consider your purchases over a cup of tea
or simply settle down in a big comfy chair for a read
or some deep philosophical contemplation.
(Pictures above feature The Edinburgh Bookshop, Readinglasses and The Book Corner.)
The Wigtown Book Festival runs for 10 days with 130+ events, which take place not only in the town centre, but at the Bladnoch Distillery, or nearby castle ruins for example. It is Scotland’s second largest book festival, though only about 1/6th of the size of Edinburgh and that, alongside its location surely contributes to the more relaxed pace and feel. Wigtown itself is not located on main public transport lines and, for me, it’s a long 95 miles on roads that are slow going. The upshot of which meant that I stayed overnight in the Ellangowan Hotel in Creetown, location of the cult horror movie, The Wicker Man.
During my two days in Wigtown I attended events for which I had done no pre-reading. I wanted to relax and discover some new-to-me books. So I was part of a packed audience listening to Anne Sebba presenting the life of That Woman, Wallis Simpson as a dark, gothic, faustian tale. (But only after she had overcome the tantrums of a maverick computer.) Julie Myerson discussed the aftermath of The Lost Child and its subconscious influence on her latest post-apocalyptic novel, Then. I giggled with Penny Smith as she talked about Eammon Holmes (nicely!) and how she has perfected the art of goving (staring stupidly into space) as she writes her unashamedly chic-litty beach reads. I discovered a fascinating new crime novel, Or the Bull Kills You, set against the backdrop of Spanish bullfighting, and I commiserated with the author, Jason Webster, as he struggled to cook a paella on a very wet Wigtown Beach. I went hunting in Alaska with David Vann, who is amazingly upbeat, having discovered that suicide is not contagious. Finally Misha Glenny, scared the living daylights out of me with his tales of the Darkmarket, Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You. In the midst of all that I also attended a jazz concert by the Jan Kliphuis Trio.
Exhilarating company, I think you’ll agree and I added a goodly number of books to the wishlist. With so much temptation in the vicinity, of course, I acquired a few, though I was very restrained. Look only 4 books!