Flashback to a sell-out show at Glasgow’s Aye Write! festival

The reference reading room of Edinburgh Central Library was an appropriate place to launch the Edinburgh International Book Festival programme – doubly appropriate for me since I spent a lot of time there when researching my book. Or rather, I spent quite a bit of time behind there.

What most readers don’t see is that there are hidden corridors at the back of the stacks, where less frequented reference books are stored. I was trying to verify the military credentials of a “major” whom John Campbell had unwisely made his estate factor just after the war.

I filled out a special card and was admitted by the librarian through a previously unnoticed door into a narrow corridor squeezed between the back of the shelves and the outside wall.  It was like those hidden passageways in vast country houses, probably leading to the sort of secret room in which Mr Rochester kept his mad wife.

Clearly not many people go there. When I reached down the Army List for the years I wanted, I was enveloped in a cloud of dust, which started a loud coughing fit. What the readers on the public side of the shelves must have thought I can’t imagine.

Anyway, back to the launch. The programme for this year is vast (do an alphabetical search for me and you’ll get 19 authors with surnames starting in P alone ), but the enthusiasm of Director Nick Barley and Children’s Director Janet Smyth is infectious. It sounds fantastic.

Andy Wightman and I are repeating the double act we premiered at Aye Write! in Glasgow in March (with new jokes, I promise). We got an audience of 250 then and forced an upgrade to a larger hall. Andy is determined we’ll repeat the trick and get a bigger tent in Charlotte Square.

Book now while there are still seats!

While in the library I did a catalogue search. Yes, they do have a copy of The Man Who Gave Away His Island, but it is out on loan and has been overdue since 24 May.

Spot the best selling double-act