Tag Archives: Edinburgh International Science Festival

Just weird

After watching the programme about Terry Pratchett last weekend, I told myself I really must read more of his books, as there are some I’ve not yet read. I’ve been hanging on to the idea of them as a treat. It’s time to forget about [some] new books and dip into my reserve. The last time I thought along these lines I realised there is a problem. Son has custody of most of the Discworld books, and when we moved house that custody shifted from being his room in our house, to a room in his own home.

So I reached the conclusion I need to visit some charity shops, but before doing that, I ought to check which – if any – books we had managed to hang on to. I especially wanted to read Night Watch, after it was mentioned so many times last week.

It turns out we have exactly one unread Pratchett novel. Night Watch.

As I was visiting a real live bookshop, I had a quick look at their shelves of Discworld books. Seems there are some tasteful new covers of paperback sized hardbacks. I liked them, but £13? Besides, don’t they sort of have to be the cover designs we’ve got used to? Discworld’s not the same without them.

I had been invited to another event at the same time as Debi Gliori was talking at Blackwell’s on Thursday. It was the launch of the International Science Festival, and having had to miss it last year, I’d intended to make it work this time. And then I bumped into the publicist I thought had invited me, at my event, which seemed a bit odd. She’s working on something else. (So I clearly wouldn’t have found her at the launch.)

On my way to and from Edinburgh I read James Oswald’s new crime novel (more about that later). His corpse had a background in Saughton. It could be my old age, but while I knew this was a prison, I didn’t actually know where. Two minutes later my tram took me through Saughton.

I appreciate this kind of helpful behaviour in trams.

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Even more Edinburgh author photos

I’ll finish as I started, with a photo of a photo. This time it’s Patrick Ness posing for Chris Close with a duck on his head. Ear. I’d say Patrick’s reluctance to be photographed is waning. Just a little.

Patrick Ness by Chris Close

Simon Mayo usually hides on the radio, but here he is in his role as new children’s author.

Simon Mayo

Ali Sparkes is one of several Alis who always confuse me when I try and sort out who is who. The fault lies entirely with me. This is the one and only Ali Sparkes.

Ali Sparkes

At the end of the evening Jeremy Dyson, whom I don’t know at all, but who makes me think of vacuum cleaners, did an event with Melvin Burgess in his adult guise. (At least, that was before Melvin posed for Murdo Mcleod. Third pic.)

Jeremy Dyson

Melvin Burgess

Bookwitch bites #104

Waterstones Children's Book Prize Winner Annabel Pitcher

When Jimmy Savile trumps US murderers, you know it’s a strange world. Very pleased for Annabel Pitcher who has gone and won something yet again. Her Ketchup Clouds won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize this week. ‘Unsettling’ story is how the press release described it. Then I read in the paper that Annabel had had a narrow escape, by abandoning plans to have her heroine write letters to Mr Savile. Death row prisoner is nowhere as awful.

El Mundo es Nuestro is about another world. Daughter and I went to see this Spanish film at Cornerhouse on Monday night, enjoying both it and the Q&A with the actors and the director and the producer that followed. The world the film is about is the [imagined] financial crisis in Spain (this was in 2009), and it is very funny. It’s been ignored by Spanish television, presumably because you don’t talk about stuff like this.

Alfonso Sánchez

The actors were relieved to find the Manchester audience laughed at the same things as they did. In fact, they have a facebook page where they were quite interested to see what the ‘English journalist’ thought of the film. (That’s me, btw…) What I think I’m trying to say here, is that we are more alike than we think. And it’s good to have learned languages, especially when visiting actors do their Q&A in Spanish. (Not to mention the DVD the week before that came sans subtitles. But ‘anyone’ can watch Spanish OAPs learn about sex…)

I did a book review over on CultureWitch yesterday. It felt more appropriate doing it there since it was the 1986 autobiography of Roger Whittaker, So far, so good, and it was Roger’s 77th birthday yesterday. I reflected on how much easier buying books from across the other side of the world is today, than back when I needed to find it (a local bookshop said they would, but failed).

On discovering Mr Decorator working down the road from Bookwitch Towers, I summoned him to come and relieve me of more books. The poor man staggered out of the house with another three bags of reading material. Not only am I trying to keep track of his children’s ages, but I’m targetting their cousins, too. Baad witch.

Lucy Hawking and Helen Giles

After a pretty lengthy delay* since she conducted her interview with Lucy Hawking, Daughter has now published their January chat. The additional wonderful news is that Lucy and her Dad are writing another two books about George. That’s the thing about trilogies. Some are longer than others.

And now Daughter’s off to chase more scientists in Edinburgh. The Science Festival begins today.

*Random House needed time to formalise all the Georgian plans before they were released.

The Geology interview

Do you have time to read 6000 words on Geology? (No is not the correct answer to this question, btw.) You can divide them up over several coffee breaks, if necessary.

Ted Nield

They are good words, although there are a lot of them. I sat in on this interview and found it fascinating from beginning to end. As some of you will vaguely recall, Daughter got so carried away with this interviewing lark of mine, that she decided to have a go herself.

Very sensibly she picked someone in a subject she knows a bit about, and here he is – ‘Geology’s answer to Brian Cox’ – Dr Ted Nield.

I was most impressed, because he knows about films, too. Unless he’s one of these people who can instantly talk knowledgeably about almost anything. (I’m related to someone like that.)

I had been concerned that coming up with questions would be a problem. The only problem here is that I don’t always know what they are about. But I can nod and pretend with the best of you. Chicxulub, anyone?

Ted Nield

(And the upside of her work on this is that Daughter now recognises interviewing as work. Not all fun. Though it is fun.)

Festival fix

The trouble with taking Offspring places is that they get ideas. Take Daughter, for instance. She wanted to attend the Science festival in Edinburgh this Easter holiday. She asked if I’d come with her. ‘Not likely,’ said I. My strength has been sapped enough by the book festival that I don’t need to do another one, however interesting it sounds. ‘Go on your own,’ said I.

General Sutton's hat

So she did. She’s been getting ideas in more ways than one, so she registered as press. Of course. The press officer is the same as for the book festival, so she has renewed her acquaintance with General Sutton.

Luckily she opted out of doing the whole two weeks as she originally planned. A week has been long enough, and she is beginning to appreciate the logistics I’ve previously sorted for her, and which she now had to work out by herself. Hah! There is a difference to traipsing after someone else, and finding the path on your own.

Our Dynamic Earth

It appears as though she has consorted with only Doctors (the science kind) all week. Most of them appear to have the right to use the title Professor, too. The third time the director of Our Dynamic Earth saw her at an event he came up to speak to her. Other than Professor Monro she has hobnobbed with Iain Stewart off television, and Neutrino-man Frank Close. And some Drs engaging in Victorian style fun, where they tried to kill off half the audience.

Iain Stewart

Frank Close

The Faraday Cage

Very relieved that Faraday’s cage actually worked. Not that I dare doubt the principle of it, but even so… I would never get inside a metal cage and let someone zap it/me with electricity.

Another thing Daughter has had the pleasure of discovering, is how much work goes into blogging about the event, after the event. Her H2O adventure didn’t simplify this one bit, but you can cope with most things if you have to.

Two blogs are also more work than one.

And I suppose it’s handy being able to ask learned people stuff that might help with your impending exams.

I need to make it clear that I did not ask permission to blog about this.

Sorry.