Tag Archives: David Bellos

Missed events and a reunion

Alexander McCall Smith

The Alexander McCall Smith avoidance continued to rule. We might have some photos of the man, but through various oversights on Tuesday, we ended up having to give his children’s event a miss. We had a shorter working day, but somehow the whole day was short.

Sue Black and Val McDermid

Got to Charlotte Square just in time for photographs with Val McDermid and Sue Black. I know it’s the writing that counts, and the event, but I have to make a remark about Val’s rather nice top. Sue looked far too nice a person to be into morgues and such things. But she is.

Omitted taking pictures of David Bellos, because we didn’t know who he was at the time. I realised as he walked away that he was the one responsible for the book on translation I mentioned some time ago, and which I had failed to get a copy of. Refrained from running after him to ask if he had a spare copy on him.

Then as we were waiting for Sven Lindqvist, Daughter spied her Rector, Alistair Moffat, and got very excited. Unfortunately we had missed his photocall as well… And she was too shy to chat to him.

Sven never turned up. Eventually he was found in his tent, by which I mean the venue for his talk. He was comfortable there, and wanted to remain seated, which is fine. I like someone with unconventional ideas. And we caught up with him at his signing, where he was faced with my totally ancient copy of his recently translated Myten om Wu Tao-tzu. It made him smile.

Sven Lindqvist - Myten om Wu Tao-tzu

In the queue I recognised a rucksack. It belonged to the lady in front. I remembered it – and her – from two years ago. This time I struck up a conversation with her, Swede-to-Swede, as we were queueing for our fellow countryman to sign our books.

Sven Lindqvist

And afterwards I had warmed up enough to go over to chat briefly with Sven’s wife, who was waiting on the sidelines. But we missed Hilary Mantel. Obviously.

The internet graced us with its presence for a while, so we sat in the sunshine outside the yurt and did our online stuff.

(I must mention the way festival staff dealt with the emergency halfway through Sven Lindqvist’s talk. Someone collapsed and staff quickly and efficiently took care of the woman and got her out, allowing the event to continue. Impressive.)

Fish in ears and emails in holes

I just don’t know. Sorry.

The question is why doesn’t English have one specific word for all chrome covered handlebars. I might have found out in the book by David Bellos – Is That A Fish In Your Ear? – if I’d been in possession of a copy. I trust the book would provide some sort of answer. Not necessarily why English doesn’t, but perhaps why some languages do.

It sounds like a very interesting book. According to the vimeo I’ve watched, there are also linguistic peculiarities to do with tarantulas on someone’s southwestern leg. Or even a less scary fly on your northeastern knee. That kind of thing.

I don’t possess one, but not because I didn’t try. I asked. Oh, how I asked. First you have to work out it’s a Penguin book. Then you ask. I began by asking my Puffin ladies for suitable contacts in an office near them. That went well, so thank you!

The next person was the wrong person, but they replied and suggested what they knew, or maybe thought, to be the right one. But a couple of email links further down the line and the trail went cold.

I get disappointed when people say no. Obviously. But at least they have replied and I know where I stand. In this case I don’t know if they didn’t like me, or if they were the wrong person, or even if the email sank into the vast hole you occasionally encounter in the most unexpected places. Or whether they’re Swedish.

Anyway, the price is £20, or around £12 if bought online. I’ll hold out for it in the remaindered shop in about two years’ time.