I’ve been in Wigtown all day today, for the book festival (oh and *ahem* I’ll be there tomorrow giving a free talk if anyone’s interested). Today I was mostly flogging stuff, or at least trying to interest people in various arty and literary things we had going on, which meant standing in the sunshine using a whisky barrel as a stall and attempting to catch people’s eye as they passed. I know. The writer’s lot is not a happy one. Although it would have been better had the whiskey barrel still been full.
It gave me some insight in how far I’d come as a city exile living in a country place though. I’ve lived here long enough, you see, that I can greet perfect strangers with a cheery smile and a hello. The locals mostly greeted me back and passed on unperturbed (unless I mentioned the free part, in which case they might come over to have a look). The Londoners – and I’m generalising madly here, you understand, some of them could have been from Edinburgh – were a different kettle of fish. First they’d rear backwards like startled horses. Then they’d look wildly over their shoulders to see if I was greeting someone else. Then they’d start to wonder if they knew me from somewhere – were they really that drunk in the bar last night? – that I was addressing them so cheerily. Sometimes, in the ensuing confusion, I even managed to flog them a book. I’m not sure I’m up to doing that again though. Being friendly to more than one passing stranger an hour is exhausting.
Over-friendly local writers aside, I can recommend Wigtown if you’ve not been. Especially on a day like today when the sun shone and the skies were blue and everyone was strolling around as though the summer would go on for ever (oh and London people, what is it with the stripey tops? Was there a law passed making breton stripes the national uniform?). Even when there’s no festival on there are bookshops and birds and some stunning scenery. We drove over the Galloway hills to get there this morning and the weather and the scenery had gone beyond glorious and was all the way over onto unreal. And on the way back we got ourselves out of the festival and its environs and stopped for tea and coffee and two enormous slices of cake for under four quid. Which just about ate up my profit for the day, but who’s counting?