Triptych and More
Wandered out into the gardens for a smoke while waiting for the kick-off and bumped into Tobias, a mate who was photographing the whole thing, and who kindly took us on a quick sortie to check out where the readings were taking place, and thence to the backstage door which opened into the mysterious and magical world of the rolling rider. BWAH HAH HAH HAH HAH! Free beer! Free wine! Replenished as it was depleted! Cooooooooool!
So I chatted with Alan Bissett, Rodge Glass and Ross from Burnt Island for a bit before heading back out, to wander some more, before eventually heading up to Rodge's reading, in a wee room on the top floor. I say "room", but actually I mean "sauna", because with a skylight and a mirrored wall, on a gorgeous sunny day, the place was crazy hot. Had a fire door which opened out onto a balcony, but apparently they couldn't leave it open because the place would be invaded by pigeons if they did. Okaaaaaay. My sympathies go to Mags, Claire, Julie and co who were filming the whole thing and doing interviews with performers in a room along the corridor, and therefore spending most of their time in that heat.
Anyhoo, Rodge did a few poems and a section from his upcoming bio of Alasdair Gray, half of which is done as diary entries, with Rodge as a secretarial Boswell to Gray's Johnson. Absolutely brilliant stuff, funny as hell, with Rodge having totally captured Gray's character and voice in the scene he read where Gray and his wife are writing Christmas cards and discussing how there's far too many of them on the list -- really, they're just not dying off fast enough, and something will have to be done! Take a letter! There was a little spare time at the end, so Rodge opened the floor to questions. Everyone else seemed too reticent, so I hit him with the "Any advice for an aspiring writer?" line just to be evil. He got a laugh out of the audience with his reaction to it, anyway. So it was all good.
Sadly, I missed the Burnt Island set, as the venue for the acoustic stage was stowed out. And sadly I also missed Foxface, as they were directly after me own reading and I rather needed a cigarette and a chill out afterwards. I did the Sonnets for Orpheus meself and they seemed to go down well despite most of the audience being, by the looks of it, middle-aged musos and literati who were most likely here for the other performers and who were really just checking me out. And the few folks I actually know had been knocked back from the door because the room was full (The security were a wee bit over-zealous with the fifty-capacity fire-hazard bollocks, I thought, given that the room was fricking huge and had a double door entrance and a fire-escape at the back (not that we could open it, of course; the pigeons, man, the pigeons!)). Elisa from the Writer's Circle told me after that they'd been outside trying to listen through the door and that there were twenty-odd people who tried and failed to get in. I know there was a fricking queue waiting to get in when I arrived. Anyway, I had a few people come up to me afterwards and say that they really liked them, which was fucking cool.
Much of the rest of the time was spent in a sort of festival / con mode -- drinking or eating or smoking outside or chatting with mates (like Eileen, Chas and Sally, who I hadn't seen for years, and who I know from a photography and journalism course waaaaaaay back in 1995). I missed a hell of a lot of what was going on, in between that and trips backstage to replenish my beer and see how much I could deplete the rider. I did, however, catch Emma Pollock (who was great despite the "lost chord situation" in one song, which she recovered from admirably and with much wit), Karine Polwart (who informed us that it was Edwin Morgan's birthday and led us in a chorus of Happy Birthday, before doing her fucking fantastic Ballads song based on his lyrics, "The Good Years"), Sons & Daughters (whose lead singer rocked "Rama Lama" and spider-danced her way through the AL Kennedy track, "The War on Love Song"), Aiden Moffat (doing some poetry, spoken or sung, with a wee synth thing for musical accompaniment / atmosphere) and Idlewild (who finished up their set with the first collaboration they did with Edwin Morgan, walking off stage to a recording of Morgan reciting a poem about Scottish Fiction, and leaving their Ballads track, "The Weight of Years", for the encore.
After all that, there was a little disappointment when the bar, which was supposed to be open till 1.00 am, closed at midnight, but we headed backstage to scavenge what was left of the rider, and I did, in the end, manage to round up a few wastrels (Alan and Rodge, basically) and drag them back to me flat for more beer and chat. So, all in all, it was a swellegant day. I left it with a childish cry of "Again! Again!" echoing in my head.
Luckily, there's more literary performingly goodness coming up shortly. I'll be heading along to Oran Mor this Thursday to see Alan Bissett doing a words-and-music collaboration with two Glasgow bands, Zoey Van Goey and Y'all is Fantasy Island. Should be cool. Then next Wednesday is the next Word Dogs event in the 13th Note, where I'll be reading some short pieces from my "A-Z of the Fantastic City", the theme being, rather handily, fantastic cities. Don't know who else is reading yet, but I'll post more details nearer the time.