Bookworm: Festivals reborn | Aye to the right

SPRING has finally sprung in the land of book festivals. They’re either allready up and running – like Aye Write!, which opened yesterday – or launching their programmes – like the Borders Book Festival did on Thursday.

More about them later, but first let’s leap across the country to Auchinleck, where Boswell Book Festival publicity boss (and former BBC producer) Carol Carr deserves a lot of credit for getting word out about who’s on at their festival on 17-19 May despite being laid low.

Falling into a monstrous snowdrift on her Wigtownshire farm while carrying a bag of sheepnuts saw to that.

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Anyway, there are indeed all sorts of wonders on her list. There’s Commander John Lorimer, for one: a spritely 90, and a genuine war hero (if blowing up the Tirpitz doesn’t count, what does?), and masses of brilliant British biographers. All this and the possibility of glamping it up (posh camping) in yurt (£200), luxury tipi (£655 for six – wow!) or, if you must, your own bog-standard tent in the Arcadian grounds, where live music will be provided by the likes of kletzmer-tango fusionists Moishe’s Bagel.

Horse whisperer Peter Neilson will also be there. He knows that In a previous life he was Alexander the Great’s horseman. His horse, Hero, was apparently Joan of Arc’s horse Destiny at one time too. “It’s just a different way of looking at biography,” Carol Carr points out, straight-faced.


IN Glasgow, Aye Write has Will Gompertz, Tracey Thorn, Sandi Toksvig and Antonioni Carluccio – and that was just last night. There’s another full week yet, in an excellent programme that now has extra events such as a session on Scottish literature a week today with Gerard Carruthers and Liam McIlvanney. That Gregory’s Girl duo of Clare Grogan and John Gordon Sinclair will also be there – though in separate events. Meanwhile in Melrose, the tenth anniversary programme has two events with the fragrant Joanna Lumley – in her own event and in a reading of The Lay of the Lost Minstrel – and how absolutely fabulous is that?


Finally, due to unforseen circumstances, the It’s Good to Write short story competition we mentioned last week has been put off until later in the year. Still a good idea, though, so keep an eye out for it.