He flicked his hair this way and that. He waved his arms when asked to. In short, he behaved like a professional model, but Neil Gaiman claims that David Tennant is the better looking if there is a contest between them. I’ve got that ‘in writing’. We didn’t get to see more of Neil on Wednesday, although we were able to admire his ten mile signing queue.
Day 1 was a mixed sort of day. It rained at the ‘home’ end, but Edinburgh was dry and warm and far too full of people. So first we got wet in one way and then in another, but let’s not dwell on unpleasant facts. We got our red bands to hang round our necks, which means other visitors think we actually know something and stop to ask for help.
With beginners’ luck we then ran into Ian Rankin, so I reminded the poor man that we’d met before, which was unfair of me because he can’t possibly remember that, and asked if he could spare the time for a photograph or two. He could, but then he needed to go get his son from school, as term has just started.
Some of the time we spent just getting to know the mud and the general layout of the book festival tents. Before the photo session with Neil my photographer had a dress rehearsal with Gerald Scarfe, who seemed more than happy to jump about. I worried a little about the advisability of such gymnastics.
I hadn’t really read the programme very well, because we found that Julia Jarman and Lynne Chapman were doing their bit in one of the tents, so we popped along to their book signing after, to say hello. Plenty of people to say hello to there, as Theresa Breslin just happened to be needing a signed book for someone. Mr B introduced us to Linda Strachan who was also hovering.
(I don’t think the photo below of Julia is quite as alarming as it may seem. I’m sure that Lynne isn’t really making gestures above Julia’s head. As for what the anaconda is doing; that’s anybody’s guess.)
We’re not coffee drinkers, so we abandoned the press yurt for tea elsewhere. (Doesn’t press yurt sound rather like a soured dairy product to you?) They are big on recycling in Charlotte Square, but between you and me there were a lot of paper cups in the plastic cup bin.
Louise Rennison had precisely as long a signing queue as you’d expect the Queen of Teen to be entitled to. Nice to see so many teenage girls turning up.
And then it was time for the Ian Rankin event. The dog quote is his. Something to do with historical radio drama, and I think I may have heard it last year in Bristol, too. Ian talked about Rebus as well as his new policeman, who is Rebus’ complete opposite. He mentioned his new venture in comics, feeling there is a gap to be filled for male teenage readers.
It was surprisingly windy in the main theatre tent, which I suppose is preferable to having half the audience passing out due to lack of oxygen. Ian came up with writing ideas for the Brownie leader who practises writing with her Brownies, and he reminisced about some writing venture at Charlotte Square one year, featuring a dead author buried underneath a mountain of books.
Ian’s memory is pretty good, too. He knew precisely how long Neil Gaiman had kept him waiting when they had dinner together last year. He only meant to illustrate the difference in how long they take over signing books. And I happen to know that Neil really was signing for over three hours, because I was there.
I’m glad Ian chucked accountancy. This kind of crime suits him so much better.
(All photos H Giles)