Tell us about your connection to Wigtown and the Book Festival
I have been attending Wigtown Book Festival as a chairperson (and audience member and hanger on and fan) since 2007. I had never chaired an event when Adrian Turpin phoned me mid-September that year and asked if I would like to, and – though quite terrified – I said yes. So I have Adrian and Wigtown to thank for getting me on the road to chairing events! I have returned each year since. Wigtown feels like driving home for Christmas to catch up with the Wigtown family and friends, and to make new ones.
Sum up your festival experience in 5 words
Random, surprising, impromptu, whimsical, inspiring
What's your favourite festival memory?
Oh I have more than one and intend to indulge myself!
Jim Haynes’ supper in The Bookshop, in which masses of people descended to meet the incomparable Jim (‘godfather of social networking’ who has been hosting Sunday dinner for friends and strangers for over 40 years every week in his Paris atelier); preparing Jim Haynes’ supper across three different venues under the direction of Claudia Monteiro and Frances Sutton, involving sautéing vats of onions for the French onion soup (and chairing an event with Hugh McMillan thereafter without access beforehand to a shower); borrowing cutlery and pots and pans from the hostelries of Wigtown; more people turning up for dinner than we anticipated; supper becoming a Biblical feat of feeding the five thousand, with boeuf bourguignon, not fishes. Here is Jim’s own account http://www.jim-haynes.com/letters/newsletters/news710.htm
Radio Free Wigtown, 87.7FM, 2013. Wigtown’s first foray into live broadcast radio, coming live from the Martyr’s Cell between 10am and noon and 3pm and 5pm every day of the festival, and reaching from Wigtown across the bay to Creetown. Exciting. On the morning of the first broadcast I find myself agreeing to host, with my partner in crime Mr Colin Fraser producing. We have no script and coax guests from the street and into the studio. It is exhilarating and marvellous. Our first guest is Mark Lawson. ‘It’s not the BBC, is it?’ says he. No, but it was something special.
Bat walk, spotting pipistrelles jinking about across the dusky Wigtown night sky.
The ceilidh, every year, particularly that one Strip the Willow which was the entire length of the distillery and which Stuart Kelly and myself ended up doing twice. I thought death had come for me, but what a way to go.
Judging Wigtown’s Got Talent in 2013 with Bernadette Russell and Reiner Luyken (our Simon Cowell). I think you probably had to be there to appreciate the range and breadth of creative talent on show.
The Sunday night some festival moons ago when all eateries and shops had closed so the fabulous Ploughmans let us order a curry from Newton Grange to be eaten in the pub.
Who would be your dream author to appear at the Festival?
Harper Lee. Or Emily Dickinson
Give us one recommendation or top tip for Wigtown, the Festival or D&G
The stew in Café Rendezvous; the scones in ReadingLasses; the shepherd’s pie in Glaisnock Café; a walk to the Bladnoch Inn and a lovely whisky at the other end for your trouble; a long and lazy wander around Wigtown’s amazing bookshops, a twilight wander to the harbour.