‘What sort of place is this meant to be?’ said one Swede to the other, as the four of them settled down with coffees at my table in Charlotte Square one August. ‘I think it’s some sort of book fair’, said the second person. They all looked around and seemed to find it wanting (because it wasn’t exactly the Gothenburg Book Fair, was it?). I refrained from letting on that I could understand what they were saying and didn’t rise in defence of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I suspected they wouldn’t get it.
I have had ten lovely years in Charlotte Square, missing it badly last August, but certain we’d all be back one day. And we will be. Though from summer 2021 it will be a togetherness somewhere else. They are moving house, so to speak. From the open square to an actual building; the Edinburgh College of Art.
We discussed this at Bookwitch Towers when the news reached us yesterday, and I believe we are all in favour. I carefully went over every book festival or fair I’ve frequented over the years, and came to the conclusion that indoors is good. At least if there can be a little bit of outdoors when you are overcome by the beautiful, balmy evening and want to sit out under the string lights and talk about literature with nice people. (Daughter says I am crazy, but I will request the lights specially.)
There will be less need to worry about one’s outfit; will it rain, or will it be too hot? Less need for wellies. I imagine the seats in a building will be somewhat comfier than in the tents, and there will be fewer screeching buses going round and round. The toilets may be of the more permanent kind.
But then, where will I be? And where will the authors be? We’ll find out. Will there be a good photo corner for the paparazzi? And can the ducks come?
It will be different. It will be fine. I just have to find out which bus I need to get there.
If there is to be any getting this year. I hope so. But if there isn’t, they will broadcast online events from their new home, which is better equipped to do that sort of stuff. After which it will be the next year again. I hope.