Well it’s all over. The authors have departed and today I spent the whole day playing with my children which was rather nice. The book festival was great but it’s been quite stressful too. Not least because Allan and I have been sleeping in a tent for the last four nights.
Sally’s sleeping had been getting steadily worse so we decided that we really needed to face up to the problem and take the dummy away (yes yes we shouldn’t have given her one in the first place – isn’t the retrospectoscope marvellous). Things were really starting to improve and we decided that the last thing we wanted to do was cause any set backs by both moving back into our bedroom with her whilst Allan’s mum was here. This left us Helen in her own room, Sally in our bedroom, Beth in the spare room…….oh dear – we had run out of rooms. Pitching the tent in the garden was my idea and it seemed like rather a masterful plan initially. Once the 30 mile an hour winds got up I must admit it seemed a little less masterful. Of course we have all mod cons. We ran an extension cable out there so we have a bedside lamp and an electric blanket on our air bed so we’re coping. It’s not so much fun having to walk across the garden to go inside for the 3am feed. Allan is having the same problem as he has to get up and feed Sally lamb at 4am! Beth is going tomorrow but she’s the first in a long line of visitors this summer so I fear we may be spending much of the season in the tent.
Anyway on Saturday morning I arose from my tent and after a nourishing breakfast I headed round to the village hall where I was delighted to see a veritable throng of people waiting to collect tickets. (Well at least 5 or 6). The sun was shining and there were plenty of people availing themselves of the soup and sandwiches provided by Colonsay Pantry. I sat outside with a bowl of carrot and coriander and chatted with my friends for a while. You have no idea what rare luxury this was for me – I had no children in tow and was able to laze around in the sun worrying only about myself. Then when aforementioned friends started demanding attention I was able to just slip away to sell raffle tickets instead of having to get into a long and complicated argument over the wrongfullness of removing all of the roughcasting from the hall.
The first author to take to the low platform (we thought using the stage was too formal) was Margaret Elphinstone. She’s a historical novelist and gave a great talk describing how she carries out her research and writes her books. It made me feel really inspired and that the trip I forced Allan to take to Jerusalem three years ago when I was writing a bonkbuster about Pontius Pilate was totally justified.
After Margaret came Poet Kenneth Steven then – the headline act – Alexander McCall Smith. He was really very funny. As my Dad says he could easily have had a career as a stand up comedian. I really enjoyed his talk and will definitely be reading his Courdoroy mansions series now.
I must confess that Saturday evening was a little disappointing. Beth had kindly offered to babysit so that Allan and I could attend the whisky tasting with singer/songwriter Robin Laing. Two problems arose from this – 1. I don’t like whisky 2. it became apparent that there was nobody there to wash the glasses. Three hours later Allan, myself and my mum were standing in the kitchen only seconds away from smashing one of the glasses and using them to slit our own wrists. Two hours of solid washing up does become rather tedious. Fortunately during my search for tea towels I discovered Gavin’s stash of chocolate for selling to those not satisfied by soup and sandwiches. Gorged on Yorkies and revived, we threw ourselves back into the task with vigour.
On sunday morning I threw off my washing up hangover and headed round to watch Sophie Cooke give a reading from her novels and poems, very enjoyable. Then James Robertson gave a hugely funny reading of Winnie the Pooh in Scots. It was very amusing and later I accosted him and suggested that he ought to produce an audio cassette (it turns out I was not the first person to suggest this – he was very patient with me though). Sadly the subsequent Q&A session all got a bit political. The woman sitting next to Beth seemed to think she was on some sort literary question time – I was sorely tempted to reach for my whisky tasting glass razor and take her life instead of my own……..Three hours later she had finally been dragged from the hall and it was time for me to give my introduction of Liz Lochead. Sadly I forgot all my carefully done research but fortunately I managed to remember her name and she made it onto the stage. Her poetry reading was fantastic and so inspired was I that I found myself composing a poem about the tent this morning.
The festival was rounded off by a debate featuring all of the authors. Sadly the take home message from this was that it’s going to become increasingly difficult for new writers to break into the market. Rather disheartening for me then since I have a secret (or not so secret) desire to be a writer.
Then they all headed off to the pier and I headed home to my neglected husband and children and a rather delicious plate of meatballs. This morning I woke up with a huge sense of relief (mingled with fear that the tent was actually going to blow away). I’ve really been struggling in my capacity as head of social media. I’m just not that good at working Twitter and what with my two children, dog, hens, lambs, online teaching students (who are a bit like pets in a way) and mother in law visiting I haven’t had much time to get my head around it. Hopefully by next years festival I will be better at it – that’s if I’m not voted off of the committee at the debriefing meeting on Wednesday.
If I’m allowed to stay on the committee I have lots of ideas for next year. I would love to get Julia Donaldson to come across. If any other famous authors are reading this and fancy a trip to Colonsay please let me know! For now though I’m looking forward to getting back to normality. Or at least my version of normality where you sleep in a tent and get up at four am to feed the lamb living in a dog kennel at the bottom of your garden (next to The Weaves in fact!).