Posted by: gillarbuthnott | August 16, 2011

It’s Rainy in Edinburgh, but…

…there’s no shortage of things to do even in the deluges we’ve had recently. However, a moment’s silence first of all for all the poor people who’ve been drookit (Scots for half drowned) at the Tattoo.

It’s Edinburgh International Book Festival time, which means my family don’t see a lot of me at the moment, though I think I’ve been very restrained so far and have only been to two events. On Saturday I listened to Bettany Hughes talking about life in ancient Athens. Fascinating, and I look forward to seeing her favourite frying pan when I go there myself this autumn!

Yesterday I went to Audrey Niffenegger’s event. I have long loved The Time Traveller’s Wife, but wasn’t so sure about Her Fearful Symmetry when I read it for the first time. I had expected Audrey to be quite serious for some reason, but she turned out to be hugely, quick-wittedly funny. I loved hearing her talk about the evolution of her books – I would never have guessed that Martin was the first character she imagined for Symmetry and that the story grew outwards from him. She spoke about her desire to embed the fantastical in the everyday in her writing and a brief mention of Ray Bradbury in another context made me long to know if he was an influence on her, since this has always been one of his trademarks. I’m looking forward to reading her new work The Night Bookmobile and further stories in which she reveals what I had always suspected – that books have souls; and I am definitely going to re-read Symmetry since I don’t think I came to it with the right mindset last time round.

In the brief moments in which my time isn’t dominated by books at the moment, I’ve fitted in two visits to the newly refurbished and reopened National Museum of Scotland. Oh my goodness, it is a glorious thing, and I think reimagined would probably be a better term for what they’ve done to it. I loved the old museum, but in retrospect even I can see that it was looking a bit tired and dusty – not that dust doesn’t have its place. I have barely begun to explore all the new spaces and new treasures, but I’ve decided I’m going to save most of it for later in the year when it will be just the thing to brighten up several wet November Sunday. There seems to be so much more to see than there was before, and masses for children to do. If I was still a parent of primary age children, I would have been weeping with joy within about ten minutes of setting foot in it for the first time.

There are huge crowds of people watching the Millennium clock go through its extraordinary performance every hour, which I’m particularly pleased to see, because of course, it’s my Chaos Clock in the book of the same name. I do think it’s a bit of a shame it isn’t in the Grand Gallery any more mind you. It looks a bit constrained where it is. I always liked the idea that it might be getting itself ready to blast out through the glass roof when it had had enough of sitting still…

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