This year Edinburgh International book festival, one of the first book festivals, will celebrate 40 years. I have been attending the book festival and taken photos there as well as attending talks since 2008. My most impressive talks include – the pianist Alfred Brendel, George RR Martin, Tom Devine, Fintan OToole,
Times Change and things move on….remember the Small Notes!
While memories inform who we are and will become. The EIBF has a new director Jenny Niven for 2024.
We had the traumas and seclusions of Covid that perhaps we’ve not recovered from really
(2020- 2022). It must have been a deadening impact on our children. Festivals were closed, the main streets empty, people were fearful of hugs and contacts – we were unprepared for anything like it. We held zoom meetings .some things continue. People moved for family now too, after the pain of separations.
The EIBF (and other major festivals) went online and continue with in person and online.
– EIBF began in 1983. I was last at Charlottes Square EIBF 2019. I used to enter its secluded and buoyant open square with many anticipation – of the famous faces, the informed conversation, the chance meetings and the vibrant buzz. The power of words, imagination, academic might, creativity, poetry and art.
Russian oligarchs have bought section of Charlotte Sq (why can Scotland not protect our land and resources?) and so the festival was forced after 36 years to relocate to new premises in 2021 and in 2024 will set up at the Futures Institute Edinburgh University. In 2021, EIBF set up at the Edinburgh art college for 3 years. Its not been quite the same with less space in the square for press, photo calls, books shops and people gathering. Sometimes it is simply time to move on.
Last year 2022, I enjoyed several excellent talks, the inspiration continues – Fintan OToole, Oliver Bullough’s Butler to the World an the inspirational Outlander author Diana Gabaldon.
**I have many great EIBF memories! – from the past fourteen years. Meeting Brian Cox (the actor) Alex Salmond, Alan Cummings, Nile Rodgers, George RR Martin, Tom Devine, Alfred Brendel, Seamus Heaney, Fintan O’Toole, Li Yea, Freedom Coming of Age at the End of History. So many images!
The photo shoots were set up behind the press yurt, where we could see Bute house and the shadows and sunshine fall through the tall trees and over the Georgian facades. Or the late sun around five creating its own warm buzz. Having the front page of the Scotsman’s for Chelsea Clinton. Photos involve patience and waiting as well as inspiration. We learned them all at EIBF. Also the chat and meeting other interesting photographers – from Italy, Wales, Hebrides, Spain, England.
**I have three powerful EIBF memories.
I remember waiting one balmy afternoon, when I noted a small gathering of women and a robust man attempting to open the side gate. I realised quickly it was Game of Throne author George RR Martin. I walked quickly round to the press tent to inform them he was there (perhaps early) so he could be escorted in. I was also fortunate to get one of the two last tickets to his show! Martin talked of how much Scotland’s stories influenced his books – he spoke of standing on Hadrian’s wall thinking of the Roman soldiers there, so far from home.
Another vivid memory is my being mistaken as the wife of Seamus Heaney as I entered the main book signing tent! I was hugged and greeted and embarrassment followed. The great Irish poet was ahead inside the tent.
My third great memory, is Nile Rodgers who gave us an impromptu concert one evening at the Spiegel tent, with chat about his life interspersed with his well loved guitar riffs and songs, and with everyone singing along. What a joy!
|George RR Martin|
Another top talk was the great pianist Alfred Brendel (always remember the small notes!) Plus the wonderful informed talks by top Scots historian Tom Devine.who has done so much to restore Scottish stories - the Darien Project, Scottish enlightenment, Lowland Clearances.
There is a strong international flavour at EIBF with great writers and thinkers from across the world attending.
As well as many great Scots from the world of literature, film, politics, science, sport, art, novels, poetry, music, theatre and more besides. Many thanks to the press team for all their assistance.
Alfred Brendal - Remember the Small Notes!
Quotes from his A Pianists A to Z “Be aware of the middle voices. Chords can be illuminated from within. Character - For me it has always been the dualism of form and psychology, structure and character, intellect and feeling, that determine music making. “