Sunday, August 20, 2006

Edinburgh festival 2

Our fourth floor flat here has french doors that open to overlook the courtyard gardens of the tenements backing on to us. Just beyond that, further up the hill is a church, its steeple high above the neighbouring roofs and all of about 600m away. So it was a bit alarming to realise last Saturday that it had vanished. A horizontal mist-come-rain had swathed it and that's how we came to find another feature of this flat - its proximity to the bus route. Until then we had been happily walking into the festival venues, often through the Meadows, but suddenly trying to walk up the steps of a moving, fogged up double decker seemed like a better form of exercise.

We made it to the African Children's Choir performance fairly dryly but when I went into the dressing rooms after the peformance there was much amazement at the defination of 'summer' in Scotland. The reason I was in the dressing room was that one of the adult chaperones had worn a dress panneled with the most amazingly intricate patchwork in vivid limes greens and yellows and silver and maroons and I needed to go and see it close up having spent much of the performance sketching out the many blocks that comprised the pattern. When she showed it to me I realised that it was all one piece of fabric but with a very ornate stamped design. So much easier. From there we ran through a monsoon to sit with very wet jeans and hear Alexander McColl Smith ( fans will be pleased to hear he is planning at least 4 more Ma Ramotswe novels) and then home where I justified bringing my laptop by using the Electic Quilt 5 programme to make up at least in digital form the quilt that dress had inspired in my mind. Another one on the must make list!

What else have we been doing? In no particular order: Royal Yacht Britannia. Surprisingly shabby but interesting enough. A quirky one hour play called My Brother's Keeper about the last two Jews in Afganistan. An amazing performace of the Syringa Tree in which one actress performs 24 South African Characters of different ethnicities all highly individualised. The author has now novelised the play which is a great and poignant story - if you can't seen the London performance get the novel. And if you do see it you'll want the novel anyway, I certainly do!

Speaking of novels, fans of Faye and Jonathan Kellerman's crime novels should take note that their son's novel - Sunstroke by Jesse Kellerman is out and judging by the first few chapters which is where I'm at now he has inherited their talent.

Also, overcome any prejudice you may have against Richard and Judy recommendations to read The Abortionist's Daughter. When we saw Ian Rankin being interviewed by Denise Mina they were talking about not understanding why some books about crime were in the general or literary fiction lists and others (i.e theirs) were the the 'poor relation' classed as genre and seen as the poorer for it. For what my view is worth it is that the genre classed novels tend to have a pre-set structure to them. (Don't you just know the hero/heroine detector will be in personal danger at the end, for example) but that the general list book about crime tend to focus on the relationships of the people affected more - like We Need to Talk about Kevin for example or indeed The Abortionist's Daughter which is about a murder and finding the suspect but the focus is kind of off centre focusing as it does on the daughter of the victim who is never a real suspect.

Anyway perhpas it was reading that books and perhaps it was being around authors or perhpas it is just the combination of time away in an environment where creativity is all around but between falling asleep last night and coming out of the Syringa Tree at lunchtime today I seem to have formulated a whole new plot of Novel number 2. Fully formed with an obvious stucture. Of course Novel 1 (provisionally entitled now 'Shouting Quietly' is still in the edit stage and who knows if over time this plot will seem as strong or compelling. But at the least it deserves its own notebook for those initial scribbles of fragmentary scenes and charater bios. And shopping for a notebook is one thing we haven't done in Edinburgh yet...:)

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