Monday 14 August 2006

Out and about in Edinburgh

The Festival started for me on Wednesday when I visited the Edinburgh Photographic Society's annual exhibition. I was a little disappointed this year but perhaps that's because I've attended the event so many times that it's becoming too familiar. And we were spoiled by last year's Cartier Bresson show. I am looking forward to seeing Harry Benson's work at the Portrait Gallery and Albert Watson at the City Art Centre.

Yesterday I went to four events at the Book Festival. First, I heard the incomparable Christopher Brookmyre address a full house in the big tent. He was - as always - good value and told us that his website now contains a glossary for the Scotologically challenged in which you can learn that "Fitba" is a:

Popular team sport known in some quarters as “soccer”, invented and given to the world by the Scots. English claims to have invented it rest on their having the first Football Association, which proves only that they invented football bureaucracy. Thanks a pantload, guys. You form yet another bloody committee and a hundred years later, we had to put up with Jim Farry.

Unfortunately this also means that Scotland gets to enjoy the "Old Firm", which is an:

Ingenious idiot-identification scheme which tags halfwits, criminals, thugs and assorted neerdowells voluntarily in blue or green-and-white garments, making them easier for the rest of us to avoid.
(Mr Brookmyre supports St Mirren!)

Next were rather more sedate but nevertheless excellent presentations from historians Mike Dash and Tom Holland, respectively authors of Thug and Persian Fire.

After a "beverage" break it was time to hear Paul Johnston and Aline Templeton discuss "Location, Place and Crime Fiction". Conclusion: it's still OK to create yet another detective based in Edinburgh.

Finally, Mrs F&W and I went to hear Francis Fukuyama give a lecture based on his new book After the Neocons: America at the Crossroads. We sat alongside Mr Eugenides and another political friend. I thought that Fukuyama was somewhat bland and didn't hear anything new. Audience score: Moonbats 20%, Anti-moonbats 25%, Silent Majority 55%.

(UPDATE: I've just ordered tickets for the newly announced Al Gore event on the 27th.)

(Another UPDATE: Book Festival director Catherine Lockerbie tells me that Al sold out at 10am.)

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