Saturday, 28 May 2011

Bristol Crimefest

Just got back from the marvellous Crime Fest in Bristol. Such lovely people and I’m sure a region only develops an accent like that in a county where there is little rainfall. Great city with a cool and froody vibe, I think it must be the coffee house capital of Western Europe.

The flight home on Sunday night was iffy in the extreme; the gale of the following day was starting to flex its muscles. The poor wee sqeesyjet was buffeted around, aiming vaguely for a strip of concrete somewhere to land on. As the cabin bounced about – so did my dinner. Both HWMBI and Christopher Brookmyre were nose deep in their respective books and had no idea of the ‘Diehard 2’ type drama going on outside as I imagined Charlton Heston having to abseil into the cockpit to rescue us and get the cabin crew pregnant. As the plane made a reappearance through the clouds, so my dinner thought about making a reappearance through my mouth. The plane got down safely, I got onto the tarmac and felt the fresh air on my face; then into the terminal building to get to the loo and pour cold water on my wrists...only to be confronted by a baby’s bottom covered in poo. The mother was holding it up by its ankles and swinging it round, scraping away at its hind end with a paper towel.

I made it to the loo but only just.

My Crime Fest panel was, in my humble opinion and the opinion of others, one of the best of the convention. The chemistry of the panellists seems to be the main consideration that either makes it work or not work. We had the enigmatic one (Yrsa, think of Lund from “The Killing” and you would be close, that dark eyed Scandinavian ‘when can I escape for a fag’ look!); the clever one (M.R Hall. He was a barrister in a former life. All my friends that are criminal lawyers in Glasgow are all scarred and tattooed. But Matt is highly intelligent and very measured in comment, weighing each word); the cheeky one (me); and the charismatic rogue (John Lawton…the Bill Nighy of the crime writing world. Another bright bloke but more of a ranter than Matt… ranting with big words and he sounds like he knows what they actually mean. He used the word ameliorate twice in the panel. I’d like to put John Lawton and Jeremy Clarkson in a room and see who wins the fight.) It was well balanced with lots of humour flying back and forth, and intellectual comments (not from me I hasten to add). We were chaired by Martin Edwards who has a great knack of making the panel seem fluid while asking the questions the audience would be interested in. He doesn’t just ask the next question on his list ( some moderators do…even if it totally breaks the chain of a conversation and then the panellist has to say…. “But I’d like to pick up on that earlier point”). He makes sure everybody has their say without making it seem like an interview – more like a casual but informative chat. I was sitting next to him and saw his notes…it’s a much more complicated process than it looks.

Well I’ve ordered all their latest books. John Lawton is the only one I’ve not read yet but “A Lily of the Field” is next on my reading list.

The hotel was lovely as usual but good God it was expensive. Thirty gazillion pounds for internet and another twenty million for a gold plated breakfast – we nipped round the corner for a fried egg roll and a double latte (for £2.50). One fellow delegate had given up on the banquet to save a few bob and then realised that she was even more dosh buying a round of drinks at the bar. My bill, interestingly also included a round at the bar. I pointed out at reception that I hadn’t been in the bar the entire time that I had been there. She looked up what it was…a burger and a lager…exactly what a vegetarian non-drinker would order! The man standing behind me said quietly in disbelief “a Glaswegian who has not been in a bar…?”. He will be appearing in my next novel buried in a bunker with a golf club stuck where only a qualified proctologist should go – with latex gloves. But no Vaseline.

More later. All the gossip about Paul Johnston’s moustache and why it’s worth nearly three hundred pounds!!

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant write-up, Caro! I especially like the plans you have for the golf club and the proctologist. It was great to meet you, and I can confirm, impartially, that your panel was one of the best.