Brian Ferguson: McCall Smith has love advice for his audience

Alexander McCall Smith's discussion of the delights, and potential pitfalls, of matchmaking during his Book Festival event obviously inspired romantic notions among some in his audience.
Alexander McCall Smith has some advice.Alexander McCall Smith has some advice.
Alexander McCall Smith has some advice.

After a rare moment of seriousness, when the author discussed the current political landscape in the United States, he was asked whether amateur Edinburgh sleuth Isabel Dalhousie was a real-life character and whether he would be prepared to pass on her phone number. The author did not disclose whether the inspiration for the character exists or not, merely insisting he could not put the not-so-secret admirer in touch.

He added: “The more encouraging answer for you, and I hope this makes you feel better, is that Edinburgh is full of people like Isabel Dalhousie. You’ve just got to know where to look for them.

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“I would have thought Charlotte Square during the Book Festival is a good time and that if you chill out here you would have a decent chance of finding somebody.”

• It is probably just as well Andy Murray was nowhere near Charlotte Square as his mother Judy held court in her festival event.

She disclosed how his competitive nature is as strong as ever during family gatherings, with tales of table tennis bats being launched across the room and the table on which a board game of Monopoly was being played turned over.

Andy’s eating habits also took a pounding, with the revelation that he would eat more “rubbish” than his brother Jamie, “if left to his own devices,” and his craving for takeaway McDonald’s even when wearing a tuxedo on the way to the post-tournament gala ball at Wimbledon.

It was also revealed that Andy ended up in the doghouse temporarily after forgetting his mother’s birthday – but was reprieved on the grounds he was battling it out in the US Open at the time.

• A heartwarming update on victims of the scamster who tricked a number of Fringe performers into handing over deposits for phantom festival lets.

The spirit of the Fringe has already been summoned to find alternative digs for them.

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Now Sweet Venues has agreed to host a benefit with the aim of trying to make good the cash handed over in good faith. All proceeds from Saturday night’s event at Sweet’s Grassmarket venue, which will feature appearances from Brandon Craig, Cam Davies and Patrick Spicer, will be split between the affected performers.