Tag Archives: Edinburgh International Book Festival

That was Edinburgh 2012, that was

Edinburgh Castle

People kept asking us if we were going to take in a few fringe events, as though we had both time and energy left over to do anything quite so frivolous. It would have been nice, but the books took everything we had, plus a little more still.

Edinburgh Fringe

But, you can take pictures of the odd thing as you run past.

Edinburgh Fringe venue

And Simon Callow won’t mind a second outing on CultureWitch.

Simon Callow and photographers in Charlotte Square

Next time I’ll sit down on a park bench for a while and just listen to some music. Or something.

Edinburgh Fringe

Maybe even sit out late one night if it doesn’t rain. It didn’t rain much this time, and it was warm. Perfect for those beer gardens and other tents that have sprung in the middle of George Street. All I had time for was a brief rest on a bench while ‘running’ for a train one evening.

Is this your first visit to Chiquito?

No. It isn’t.

And I’m beginning to wonder if they could rephrase that. They don’t need to recognise me, because I do realise they see an awful lot of customers during one week, especially during the Edinburgh Festival. But it’s nicer to be treated like a regular, than as the ignorant newbie.

We generally like Chiquito in Edinburgh. It’s well placed for our Charlotte Square induced hunger, and every time we’ve been over the last few years has been good. (Can’t say that about our local Chiquito, unfortunately.) Good friendly service, and good food, for a chain. Reasonable prices.

What really made us return to Chiquito this year, though, was the wifi. We had no internet where we stayed, and the bookfest wifi was slow to impossible for several days. A blogger needs to blog. They even need to read emails and to respond to them. So, setting up office next to the Chimichanga seemed a good solution to us.

Clearly it wasn’t annoying enough to the waitress, to make her remember us two days later. It was useful to us, however. A lifesaver the first day. I don’t know if the answer to attracting diners is to have free wifi, but in this instance it worked with us.

Edinburgh Castle

The view from the street outside isn’t bad, either.

Monty Palin

Michael Python? Whatever.

Michael Palin

Mr Palin, that’s it. He pretends to shoot himself as he discovers he’s not been invited to John Cleese’s wedding after all. The one this week. Michael’s invite is for next month.

I am under the impression Michael has written a book. A real book. Not just travel and stuff. That’s why he’s in Edinburgh.

The 2012 Simon Callow

Unlike authors who like to hide behind their laptops, actors are used to the limelight. Some of them might even like it. Or not mind too much. I get the impression Simon Callow doesn’t mind dreadfully.

Simon Callow

It was nice to catch him on the blue carpet. We’ve had enough green carpet for a while.

I knew I knew her

Did I sit opposite her on a train recently? That was the question. I felt I ‘knew’ her so well, the woman who swept down Shandwick Place in Edinburgh on Saturday morning. Daughter and I were going in the opposite direction, but I got enough of a good look at her. I knew I knew her.

But was it the train? I sort of felt it was recently and I sort of felt she was Swedish. Or the train was, at any rate. But what would she be doing in Edinburgh? OK, so lots of Swedes like Scotland and maybe she was here on holiday. But she strode very purposefully, and alone.

If I hadn’t sat opposite her on a train, maybe she was from the television? Yes, that could be it. Once I’d decided that much, I ‘knew’ that it was a crime series. I felt she was the wronged woman, caught up in something. So, was she British after all? But what could we have watched, that was so recent? Besides NCIS, I watch very little. Surely not Doctor Who?

I discussed the conundrum with Daughter, who hadn’t noticed her. (That didn’t make the discussion any easier.) Suddenly I felt sure it was Wallander. The Swedish, Krister Henriksson Wallander. She was his romantic interest in season one. She was the one who behaved ‘badly’, letting poor Wallander down.

But which episode? It took a lot of googling back and forth until I found the right one, and then some more before deciding which was the right female. Armed with the name Cecilia Nilsson it was easy to find her photo, and then you google name and Edinburgh, and hey presto.

There she was, being praised for her one woman show performed in silence (and in the nude if the picture was anything to go by).

Cecilia Nilsson

So I was right. Except it wasn’t a train. But close.

Pliny the elder

Another year, another photo of Simon Callow. This time a non-shaky (well almost) photo that was not taken by the useless witch, so much better for it.

Simon Callow

You could tell someone ‘big’ was about to come by the large number of photographers who had come out of the woodwork. And Simon was only a little late, and was swiftly rushed on to the next session, which in turn had to be swift to allow for there being an event minutes later.

Simon Callow, My Life in Pieces

There is another biography of this actor, about whom I know so little. To me it’s enough that he was Caroline Lawrence’s Pliny in the Roman Mysteries.

Lara A King – Soundcheck

I keep listening to Soundcheck, Lara A King’s CD which she ‘just happened to have in her hand’ as we left her Edinburgh Fringe event in August. It was a bargain at £10, considering we got an hour of Lara, for the three of us and the CD to take home. It’s just Lara’s beautiful voice, and a guitar.

For a stick-in-the-mud like me who tends to go for – well not necessarily the biggest names – but established musical artists, it’s been a long time since I listened to struggling or unknown musicians. That makes the discovery of someone like Lara so much more special.

I still love It Ain’t Mississippi best. I don’t think it’s because it’s the song Lara sings with Fascinating Aïda on their show. It’s simply a stunning song.

Then I probably like Ugly But Beautiful second best, and I can understand why Daughter asked Lara for her permission to use it as the soundtrack to her Edinburgh Book Festival photo medley.

I’m going to have to see if I can lay my hands on Lara’s other CD some time. I think it’s with a band, so will be different. But for now I love Soundcheck.

Picturing Murdo

I could really have done without Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in the nude. But other than that I quite enjoyed the exhibition of Murdo Macleod’s photos at the Guardian.

I wouldn’t ordinarily go out of my way to look at this type of exhibition, but after a couple of Augusts at Charlotte Square in Edinburgh ‘in the company of’ Murdo and his colleagues, I almost feel I know him. He doesn’t know me, of course, and probably doesn’t want to. I’m the Fat Controller of the Bookwitch photographer, and no matter how good her (photographic) equipment is, theirs is always bigger and better. And they are all boys together.

After seeing the article in the Guardian a few weeks ago, I thought I’d pop along to their offices if I happened to be in London at the right time. Luckily the Philippine ambassador saw fit to invite me round, so I did end up in London after all.

But, I would have welcomed more than the foyer of the Guardian. OK, so it has walls. Walls with exhibits on them. It has stairs to the offices. It has a security guard. After my trek all the way there I would have loved somewhere to sit. Many galleries have seats. You can rest, and you can think about what you’re looking at. Here I was in and out in minutes, or so it felt. I had also hoped there would be many more photos not already known to me from the paper.

The photos are good. No question about it. But then if you have access to famous people, especially in unusual settings, then half the battle has been won. Experience in how to get the famous people to pose will help, and I’m sure the superior long lenses do their job. But an amateur could take pictures like these, too. Murdo has a lot of interesting umbrellas, and I’m certain they assist him with the job in hand.

So, just get a politician to stand in front of a derelict cottage, or someone rich to sit down in an untidy room and you’re halfway there.

Or am I being unfair?

Murdo Macleod and press photographers with Philip Pullman at Charlotte Square

Murdo is the one in red. Philip Pullman asked what gave him the right to ‘give the orders’, and I believe the answer was his red fleece. This photo was taken by someone who is not aspiring to professional photography, using an ordinary small camera, which incidentally was bought after our first encounter with Philip, when we were so camera-less that we had to borrow one. But that’s another story.

Friends and Faking It

I feel better for it. I’ve been so busy with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, that I haven’t had a single day relaxing with NCIS. It’s now only three weeks until season eight begins, and so far this summer, the lunching with an old episode of NCIS has fallen by the wayside something shocking.

Just had a Stilton toasted sandwich while enjoying Faking It, with Ziva and McGee searching for puke. Goes well with any food, I find…

Meanwhile, Daughter has done her relaxing for the past weeks in the company of Friends. Now, that is a series I didn’t watch. I have probably seen a full episode of it at some point. Maybe. But I have caught lots of bits of Friends to the extent I feel I know them. I know exactly (well, almost) who the characters are, but would struggle to name any of the actors, except for that Aniston woman.

So, Friends in one room, and NCIS in another.

But as Daughter pointed out; we will soon be home and can return to our old, and possibly bad, ways. One indication we haven’t indulged enough, is that the other day she asked ‘how did NCIS: Los Angeles season 1 end ?’ And I couldn’t remember.

At the mosque

The quaker sent us.

That was four years ago when Son and I were looking round Edinburgh, and were in need – although not desperately – of lunch. The quaker turned up. I’m sure he has a name, but for me he always goes under that label. He recommended the mosque round the corner from the university building we met in. Cheap and good.

We went. And it was. You eat at long tables (or take away) in the back yard of the local mosque, where there is a good selection of both veggie and meat ‘curries’, which you eat off paper plates with a plastic spoon.

I’d not been back since, because I’m rarely there, but Son has. And before the fringe event with Lara on Friday night, we popped across the road and found it was open until eight, so went in for some pre-fringe dinner. They even had falafels for Daughter, who is not keen on vegetables.

And it’s quick. Always good when you haven’t got all day.