Scotland, Ho.


I have a funny relationship with Edinburgh that began in 1977, when I first visited it -- on December 21st. I'm still getting over the idea that a place exists where the sun rises after 11am and sets again at 3. No such problems in August, of course, but I always seem to arrive for the book festival with sand in my hair and a slightly dazed expression -- too much time away from London in the summer.  I lose what little edge I managed to sharpen over the previous eleven months.

Two of the things I like best about the book festival are the audiences (though I sometimes have to ask for questions to be repeated in a language I understand), and the fact that whiskey is available at all hours of the day in the yurt.  The yurt?  Yes, the yurt.  Other festivals have green rooms (and many have excellent cake) but only at Edinburgh can you start the day with a wee dram in the yurt. (Is there a writer on earth who prefers a nice cup of tea in a drawing room to a slug of whiskey in a yurt?)


Oh.  The other thing I love about Edinburgh is that there are six hundred theatrical, comic, and musical events EACH DAY to choose from, on the off chance that you happen to have an hour or two free. This year I'm desperate to find one of the story phone boxes.  With my luck, I'll find a phone booth, pick up the receiver and instead of a great literary experience, I'll get a heavy breather.

Which --when you think about it -- would be a perfectly acceptable bit of drama.