The final talk that I attended at the Book Festival was on Sunday 23rd of August, The Poems of Iain Banks, with Ken Macleod, a Scottish Science Fiction Writer, and lifelong friend of Iain Banks. The event was chaired by Stuart Kelly. It had been an interesting talk, suggested to me by fellow blogger, Stephen P. Blanchini, his blog is aptly named The Earthian Hive Mind: http://earthianhivemind.net/
I learnt a great deal about Iain Banks from this talk, and was struck by Ken Macleod’s obvious sadness that this lifelong friend that he had had the pleasure of knowing for such a long time was no longer with us. Very sad, it must be extremely hard to discuss a friend you have shared so many memories with over so many years, in such a public way particularly when you have had so much in common. I shall be delving into Iain Bank’s writing, and his poetry to find out more, but at this juncture I don’t feel I can do him justice by writing an in-depth article about the talk as in truth I just don’t feel I know enough about him, yet…. The fantastic thing about these talks is their ability to make you curious, and encourage you to read the author’s work which can only be a good thing. Ken mentioned that Iain’s strangest novel was A Song Of Stone, this features heightened prose, and a strongly dislikeable character. Iain was apparently disparaging about his final novel The Quarry. Ken suggested that The Quarry demonstrates a gentler revisiting of themes that appeared in his earlier novels. Ken said that there is almost an alternating nice hopper, nasty hopper with some of Iain’s books such as Whit, (about a young cult member,) Stonemouth, (this follows a man returning to a small seaport town after leaving due to a sexual scandal,) and Quarry, (which deals with an autistic youth, Kit, and his father, Guy, a misanthrope who is dying of cancer,) fitting into the nice hopper. The Hydrogen Sonata, a science fiction novel set in a techo-utopian Culture universe is possibly more optimistic too, though it takes part in Hell!
Sadly, Iain Banks died of Gallbladder cancer, as a token of the esteem he was held in the asteroid (5099) Iainbanks was named in memory of him shortly after his death. His dying of Gallbladder cancer got me thinking, I myself had a polyp in my Gallbladder which was discovered last year and I was operated on in October 2015. For a long time my symptoms were misdiagnosed, it took a trip up to Edinburgh, and a Scottish doctor to diagnose it immediately. The polyp was most probably benign but still it does make you think, that tiny polyp gave me so much trouble I’m so glad I went ahead and had my Gallbladder removed. Poor Iain.
After the talk the weather was so nice that I felt it would be a crime not to stop for an ice cream, so I stopped right by the large advertisement for the Book Festival that you can see at the top of this blog post. I had a feeling that I should wander on a bit and find somewhere that sold S. Lucas ice-cream, but there was no certainty that I’d find this wonderful childhood favourite which we used to eat in Musselburgh. So I settled for an ice-cream van at this spot, I fancied a chocolate wafer, a Scottish ice cream delight but was a bit disappointed to find that they’d run out, so I had to settle for a humble ice cream cone! Still it was very tasty and I lapped it all up. Of course, the inevitable happened I found a place along in the gardens that sold S. Lucas ice-cream, too late, I should have listened to that psychic voice telling me to wait! I couldn’t really justify buying another ice-cream so soon after the last!
As I ambled my way along Princess Street gardens taking in the sights I came upon the magnificent flower clock, this is a must see if you’re ever in Edinburgh, it is really pretty, especially on a sunny day. The floral clock can be found half way down the stairs into the gardens across from the National Galleries, at the foot of the Mound, commissioned in 1903, it was the first of its kind in the world. Oh, and amazingly it tells the correct time in flowers! How cool is that! Unfortunately my photographs could have been a bit better, there were a few shadows lurking about but still it does give you an idea of how lovely it is. I like how this wonderful display of flowers celebrates Books, Words and Ideas. Of course Edinburgh, my old home town, is the first UNESCO City of Literature in the world, and deservedly so.
More about that here: http://www.cityofliterature.com/edinburgh/
So it was time to say farewell to Edinburgh until the next time. Time to go home and see my hubby and my daughters!
I do hope you have enjoyed all of my Edinburgh posts, I have bombarded you with so many of them but my excuse is simply this, I used to live in Edinburgh, I grew up and had many memorable teenage years there.
I love the city and always will.
Bye for now.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
The gardens are so pretty, especially in the summer 😊
Yes, they are, great spot for sun bathing when the Scottish sun peaks out of hiding. 🙂
Yes, you should have listened to your psychic voice, but – come on! – the opportunity to have a second ice cream and you passed it up! Now there’s a genuine reason to say: “Shame on you!”
Looking shame-faced, guilty as charged. Shall indulge in some wicked home made death by chocolate cookies to make amends!
I’ve loved these blogs about your time in Edinburgh Marje. What interesting talks you have been to and learnt so much. The flower clock is a wonder, wow! Glad you are in good health after your op – I have heard very good things about Scottish health system.
Glad you enjoyed my Edinburgh blogs Annika, it was my mum who was having an op this time, I had mine way back in October last year, and yes the Scottish health system seems to be very good.
Hope your Mum is ok after the op and that it wasn’t too serious. It’s good you could be up there with her. I love Edinburgh and spent many happy weekends there as a student – reading your blogs about it makes me really want to go up there again. Quite a way from here though…
Thanks Annika, yes she is fine, my mum is some woman, she’s in her seventies, but just walked out of the hospital the day after the operation, no problem. It was keyhole but even so she never ceases to amaze me. Glad you enjoyed my Edinburgh posts and that they brought back memories of your time there as a student.
Beautiful photos, lovely commentary. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you JoHanna. Edinburgh is like a second home to me, just love it. 🙂
lovely post and photos!! We have family and go every year to Scotland and Edinburgh( and Ireland). Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities and we always stop in at Greyfriar’s Bobby when we visit!! Princes Street Gardens are beautiful! ( Did you see some of my pics on the blog?- under journeys and travel tab)
Hi, will take a look at your pics on your blog, glad to hear that you are an Edinburgh enthusiast too. 🙂
I’m not sure how I stumbled onto this page on your site. It wasn’t the one I was looking for. I had a coworker who really liked “The Wasp Factory,” though, so the part about Iain Banks caught my eye. Incidentally, the flower clock does look very impressive. I see you had a nice day for your visit too. 🙂
Stumble away, you never know what you might find. I might even have forgotten what I’ve written!! Yes the flower clock really is impressive and it was a lovely day. So enjoy my trips up to Edinburgh. Shall be going up north in July, not Edinburgh this time – St Andrews/Glasgow bound perhaps I might share on my blog… 🙂
Sounds like fun! I hope you have a great time (and some sunny weather)! 🙂
Thanks, Marjorie. A learning curve for me, as – although I was born in England – I never managed to see Scotland (I know, I missed out!) I have thoroughly combed much of my own country and, being half-Welsh, Wales, of which I’m VERY fond…Husband and I also travelled a lot to various countries and lived in Canada for eighteen months and we’re now retired to Spain, which we love, BUT time has gobbled up the years too quickly and we STILL haven’t seen Scotland or Ireland…Still, we’ve counted some great Scottish people among our friends and love chatting to the Irish holiday-makers here, so I guess that’s the next best thing. xx
That’s a shame you haven’t seen Scotland. Likewise I’ve never been to Wales or Ireland. .. One day perhaps I will. We have plans to retire abroad too – still quite a way off as we are waiting until both of our daughters are settled work -wise. One is just finishing her first year in university, my eldest is unsure what to do next!