A couple of days prior to the festival, I paid the princely sum of £4.50 for a new bag. After all these years, I’m still searching for the perfect festival bag. I have high hopes for this repurposed overnight case though, as there is room for everything needed to survive whatever the Scottish weather concocts for festivalgoers: sunscreen, sunglasses, pac-a-mac, umbrella (hopefully to be used more as a parasol), lunch pack, purse, smartphone, notebook, pens and other necessary accoutrements. The tour de force, however, is the expandable compartment at the bottom; perfect for keeping those precious books clean and undamaged.

It seems crazy to be packing SPF30 alongside umbrella and pac-a-mac, but it was the wise course because during my first two days every item in the survival kit was utilised. Sun screen and sunglasses on Sunday, umbrella and pac-a-mac on a wet and chilly Monday. At least the festival ducks were happy, because while humans have been enjoying a glorious summer, ducks have had to endure a scarcity of puddles. Well, the festival ducks are quacking merrily now that they have enjoyed a few copious showers on the decking.

Now this year’s programme is a return to the scale of former years. In addition to Central Hall, which is a 6 minute walk from the main festival site, there are 5 theatres and an open-air big screen dotted around the Courtyard of the Edinburgh School of Art. I might get to visit them all sometime during the 17 days of the festival.

That said it is tricky. Not all events are being filmed for catch-up viewing, and so I have prioritised those for which there are only in-person tickets. This resulted in 5 events in the Northside Theatre, where it has to be said the view makes up for the seating.

Room with a view

The bistro chair seating is ok for an hour here and there, but, as it is too high for me, it doesn’t do my back any favours. Neither is the seating layered, which means that should a giant sit in front of 5ft me (invariably the case) I can’t see a thing! (Lesson learned. I’m arriving early and heading for front-row seating from now on.)

Still the acoustics were good. I didn’t miss a word.

I heard Daniel Hahn talking about his real-time translation diary, Catching Fire. I then saw Daniel Hahn interview Rupert Thomson about his novel, Barcelona Dreaming. Had I chosen to attend Howard Jacobson talking about his memoir, Mother’s Boy, I would again have been in the same room as Daniel Hahn. But, as it was lunchtime, I watched the event through the sporadic showers (hurrah for the umbrella and pac-a-mac) on the big screen.

The open-air theatre

At this point, I need to state for the benefit of those with suspicious minds that I am not stalking Daniel Hahn, even though I will be attending more of his events before the festival is over. To prove it, here I am not stalking him in the signing tent. 😂

Photo Credit: Ann Giles

Other events in the Northside Theatre: historical fiction from Jo Browning Wroe (A Terrible Kindness) and Daniel Wiles (Mercia’s Take), chaired by Dan Richards; Sarah Moss inteviewed by Sally Magnusson about her pandemic novel, The Fell, extracts of which will be broadcast on the radio show, Sunday Morning with Sally Magnusson. Finally Italian literary giant, Domenico Starnone (Trust) was interviewed remotely by Asa Aldegherdi. Superbly translated by Lucinda Byatt. I said it before but it’s worth repeating, she is a superstar.