Thursday, 16 August 2012

Society of Authors in Scotland (SOAiS)

One of the two Sir Chris Hoy gold- painted postboxes in Edinburgh
To Edinburgh yesterday for the AGM of the Society of Authors in Scotland. The room buzzed with the fury of those who by definition do not get out much (we're usually sitting on our own working to meet a deadline). I met a remarkable man, a former vet who started his writing career by publishing books on immunology but is now a world authority on London cutlers (makers of knives) and medals. Talking of knives, our new SOAiS chair is best-selling Scottish crime writer Lin Anderson, founder of the forthcoming 'Bloody Scotland' bonanza in Stirling Sept 14-16, who told me that her next book is set in Cannes where she and her husband have a flat in the old quarter  known as Le Suquet. The Russians love the south of France and have returned in force after a brief 70-year hiatus thanks to the revolution. The Russian language declines like Latin and Greek, and rather sweetly they treat 'Cannes' as a plural word because of the 's' at the end. I was also able to pass on to Lin the fact that in Tsarist times, a train left the south of France every day to take fresh melons and grapes and other Mediterranean produce to the tables of the aristos in St Petersburg. I can thank a London restaurateur for this information. As a child in the 1950's, our regular treat was to be taken to a place called, the Hungaria in Lower Regent St, run by a man who had gone in 1913 to work in St Petersburg, at the premier hotel in those days, The Astoria, and then as the private chef of a prince in the circle of the Grand Duke who murdered Rasputin. His memoir 'The Tavern is My Drum' (a quote from Shakepeare Henry IV)was published by Odhams in 1948, price 12/6d. Moffat Book Events is putting on a crime fiction event next year - see our website for a shocking retro illustration of a blonde with a smoking gun. Wonder who that might be?

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