Thursday, 8 December 2011

Society of Authors Christmas party

The Society of Authors in Scotland Christmas party in Edinburgh was faintly reminiscent of a gathering of archers after the invention of the flintlock, or of farriers once Henry Ford's Model T in any shade of black was bowling along the road. The atmosphere was convivial and civilised and the words 'ebook' were on many lips. Before I left Moffat, by McEwan's bus, someone asked if I would know many people. Writing, on the whole, is a solitary calling, but I guessed correctly that I would know one: Aline Templeton, who was one of our guests in April at our MBE D E Stevenson event. The group on my table included an academic author from a Scottish university and a travel writer. It was agreed that, alongside the euro crisis, the sudden loss of authority by Putin in Russia following blatant vote-rigging and consequent demos was a game-changing development. Appropriately, last night I watched a DVD of Moonlighting, Jerzy Skolimovski's 1982 film about a group of four Polish builders working - in those pre-Berlin Wall, pre-EU days, illegally, - on a house renovation in London. Three are kept unaware by their foreman ( played by Jeremy Irons) that the Russians have invaded their country. Every period detail of the film is telling, from their arrival at immigration to the supermarket where Irons daily risks arrest for shoplifting. At the bus station in Edinburgh, and on the bus, I was struck by the friendly, chatty village atmosphere that prevails, in stark contrast to present-day London. As the credits rolled, I saw that the late great poet Christopher Logue had played a cameo role as 'workman'.

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