This post is being simulposted at If you’ve not been there before – and even if you have – I’d ask you to read it there. There’s stacks of stuff to explore that isn’t here at

As intimated last week, the Festival really is over. So this week, rather than sitting shiva in Edinburgh, Beth and I are paying a quick visit to the U.S. This means that for the first time in some time I’m blogging at 35,000 feet, while I continue to reminisce about all fun I had during August.

Sian sez "LIVE FOR THE NOIZE!!!"
Stroke Bloke having fun. During August. (Photo credits: Chris Scott, @chrisdonia)

Yes, the Edinburgh International Book Festival really was Disneyworld for this writer. As well as all the fab events I was able to attend as a reader, and the writers I had the pleasure of interviewing, Babs Melville and the lovely folks at Illicit Ink – together with my wonderful bandmates in Nerd Bait – opened up the path to the author’s yurt for me.

Y’see, there are a couple of – if you’re a gaming type – hidden levels among the tents in Charlotte Square.

This Sherlock Christmas special isn't what I expected. At all.
“You have selected door two. You encounter CGI monsters and walk. Like, a lot.”

Both the press tent and the author’s yurt require fancy lanyards. I got access to the press tent when I was conducting interviews for Summerhall’s Writers’ Stories. Then my friend, the super-talented writer Rebecca Raeburn, got me into the author’s yurt as a guest when she was reading at the City of Literature’s StoryShop.

Then, happy upon happy, I got my own “Ricky Brown, Author” lanyard. Together with the inspiring story of Edwyn Collins’ and Grace Maxwell’s standing ovation at the Festival, the story behind it is one worth sharing with people working on their recovery and their supporters.

I’ll let Nerd Bait’s Professor Paul take up the tale….

Are you even a real doctor?
“A’m a doctor, ya numpty! No a professor.”

On August 25, we – Nerd Bait – premiered our fairy-tale comedy sing-along musical The Tail of The Wee Mermannie. The show, which you could have seen as part of the Edinburgh Book Festival’s late night Jura Unbound strand, was featured among a collection of really talented writers re-imagining fairy tales.

Death rays trump apples, human!
The really talented author of “Dalek” messes with Snow White

By all accounts, the performance went really well. Since the fine producers at Illicit Ink had asked us if we could do a longer bit, we decided to go with a singalong.

What could be better?! Middle aged semi-drunk Scottish book fans in a tent singing along with our pop-inspired fairy tale. Isn’t that what we dreamed of when, as young folk, we thought “perhaps rock and roll is the life for us?”

Punk IS capitalism
“Those people over there joined a band to bed interesting people and ingest interesting drugs.” – Paul Mason

Joking aside, we are really proud of the show. Ricky wrote a lovely story about a merman who travels to the surface to find love. Somehow the redeeming power of love coupled with a voyage of transformation just keeps popping up as a theme in his work. And he thinks we don’t notice!

And I set out to write some sing-along music which would let Stephanie bring a broad range of expression to the charming text.

I found a very important part of my brain!
It’s like Burning Man. If you’ve had yer tea.

Sing-along music has to be easy to sing. And has to be popular. And has to be fun. We think we got all of those in our two sing-alongs (The Swimming Song and P.D.B.) and our charming non-sing-along number (The Surface Song, which as I mentioned, is extra charming).

This is definitely the most “pop”-oriented music we’ve done. We even incorporated a child star in the songs and the spoken parts – and Groupieofthebanddan <winky face!> filled out the sing-alongs to give us that arena show vibe.

All the vegetarianism; less embarrassing nationalism.
“Shoplifters of the world…”

Also – Ricky Raps! You read that correctly. And he’s great at it! (I’m glad you wrote that! – Ricky)

We hope you enjoy listening to it here.

But wait. Wait! That’s not all!

Along with our participation came a request for merch. (For the merch table. I’ll notice that my mac wants to correct “merch” to mercy, by the way.) But the siren song was loud, and Ricky suggested we put together some songs onto a CD. So we did! Our first CD, Greatest Hits, Volume 6 was on sale after Ricky burned all those copies by hand.


Ricky decides the margins are better on heavy vinyl

Getting GHV6 ready had me go back and re-master all our prior tracks, and had Stephanie and I put in a few corrections and re-records, so the music sounds better than ever. (It really does! – Ricky)

You probably want this music for your home hifi! Right?! Well, Ricky can burn you a copy and so on, but that’s so 1997. So we’re also making the entire album available free of charge for download as a set of high quality mp3 files, complete with cover art and exclusive Ricky-authored liner notes. You can grab it here.

The CD also contains the previously unreleased song Kaleidoscope.

Seriously. I musta been high.
Actual liner notes in process

Addendum – Just as a quick follow-up. Ricky’s performance, complete with live rapping, shell bikini and stripper pants (For real!) is now up on vimeo. The sound is pretty good, too. (And I nail the rapping with the audience energy – Ricky) You can see the show – and hear the audience really getting into it – here.


...of mackerel. The boy done good.
Get a bucket…

.   .   .   .

Well, that’s quite enough from you, Prof. I can’t have your high-functioning dilettant-ism supplanting my role as band scribe.

And quite enough from me, too. But one last thought before I go. The Prof, Science Steph and I all take out music listening very seriously. Friends, associates and regular readers will know quite how seriously I take pop music. So you’ll know that I wouldn’t write the following without meaning it –

–  You should check out Nerd Bait’s GHV6 – as well as being totally free, it displays a jaw-dropping range and is genuinely good music. Just ask the bloke singing The Swimming Song on his way to pick up a pint at the bar in the video.

Till next week….

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