I haven’t been able to get to much on the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year, for reasons. After seeing Tariq Ali discuss Lenin, I managed to miss Stuart Cosgrove returning to the subject of Detroit ’67, and 404 Ink marking their epochal Nasty Women with Nadine Aisha Jassat, Joelle Owusu & Laura Waddell.
Mrs Stroke Bloke and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary this past weekend.
And what a pleasant day our anniversary was. We started off at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, which was featuring a Bridget Riley exhibition. I found that some of the impact of seeing her work for the first time in New York many years ago had faded. YMMV, obvs.
For more uninformed opinion, check out the Apoplexy Tiny Letter. Or BBC politics correspondent Norman Smith trying to talk about Scottish politics on the PM show.
On Tuesday, I was invited to an event run by The Open University’s Reading Communities team in association with The Scottish Book Trust’s Book Week Scotland and the Being Human festival of the Humanities. It was called Edinburgh: A City of Readers. As well as my story Valhalla, I was asked to read an extract from an 1830 letter written by the actress, writer, and abolitionist campaigner Fanny Kemble in which she talks of breakfasting with Walter Scott and a small party of other Scottish luminaries of the time.
Apparently, she found it
strange that so varied and noble an intellect should be expressed in the features of a shrewd, kindly, but not otherwise striking countenance.
My love for BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, as hosted by Eddie Mair, is well-documented on this website (1, 2). During #indyref the first, I remember him conducting one of the better interviews I heard with Scotland’s First Minister.
If you’ve ever visited the About Me section of apoplectic.me, you may recognize this picture:
(Actually, it could do with a bit of an update. I’ll do that when I’m done here.)
That’s four years ago, and I don’t really remember anything about the circumstances. Well, y’know, I had recently suffered a catastrophic haemorrhagic stroke. I’m pretty sure about that. But, other than that….
Tonight, the Edinburgh Festival and the Fringe will be over for another year. Once again, the shows I went to see for The Edinburgh Reporter were never less than interesting, and the second half of the month was no less thought-provoking.
In addition to the stuff I mentioned last week, Daniel Kitson at the Traverse was great, and AL Kennedy at the Book Festival was a masterclass on how to take an audience with you when reading off the page.
The beginning of the Fringe is always a bit of a whirl. I’m doing reviews and interviews during preview week and the first week proper. For the second half of the month, it’s more a case of hanging on and getting through to the end.
Before being distracted by something shiny last week, I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on with this Donald Trump thing. Why, over the past week, have presidential general election polls continued to see Trump bouncing along at 40%, when he’s indicated that a Trump presidency would look like this?
That’s an actual [inside] page from this TheGlobe back in April, described as the front page we hope we never have to print. The accompanying editorial called Trump’s White House run “flippant and reckless” and “profoundly un-American”. But while this would all seem obvious from within The Globe‘s newsroom, or my Twitter feed, Trump easily won the Massachusetts Republican primary, collecting 22 delegates and nearly 50% of the vote. Meanwhile, over 50% of the voters in the recent EU referendum in these islands voted for an Out campaign fronted by Trump-like trolls.