Tuesday, 25 August 2015

I Steal A Book

I am in Edinburgh at various festivals.  The main, official one to see (so far) Juliette Binoche in Antigone (superb script and use of wind machine), Max Richter in Recomposed (a wonderfully playful reinterpretation of Vivaldi's Four Seasons); the Fringe to see (so far) Robert Harper in To Kill a Machine (scarily good at a scary part in a wonderful production), Carol Caffrey in Music for Dogs (go see her if you're here and you  haven't), Adams' Writers Group in Adams' and Eves (I nearly died from pride), some random comedy in a pub on the Royal Mile (a necessary Fringe experience); and the Book Festival to see (so far) Andrew McMillan read in the dark (totally awesome) and Jonathan Edwards read in the light (more on this now).

My Family and Other Superheroes is Jonathan's wonderful first poetry collection.  It's an unas-suming over-suming book.  I mean it name drops like crazy - Evel Knievel, Gregory Peck,  Ian Rush and Sophia Loren jostle with the Edwardses in understated, perfectly pitched narratives.  Like that's normal in Wales.  I have admired this book, but I didn't mean to steal it.

I've never stolen anything, except 50 pence from my brother when I was nine and desperate for sweets.  I took it from his moneybox.  Two days later, sick from Spangles, I withdrew 50 pence from my Post Office Savings account and placed the coins on the floor under his bed, so, though he'd missed the money, with any luck he'd think it was an accidental spillage rather than a crime.  So, I've never stolen anything really, if you overlook beer mats and Biros, until Friday last week.

At the end of poetry readings, there are often book signings.  I already have Jonathan's book, but I wanted a signed copy.  So I decided to buy another.  The system was: get the book signed, then queue separately to pay for it.

I probably don't need to tell you that I was so star-struck after Jonathan and I had chatted and he'd signed my book (I sneaked a look straightaway) with 'lots of love' that I walked out of the bookshop without paying for it.  Interacting with talent always sends me a little high.  That's what I would have told Them, if it had come to that - my plea: momentary detachment from my prosaic senses.

It didn't come to that.  A blast of Edinburgh evening air, the patter of coins at the bar I was passing, the parental voice which won't quite leave my head: something jolted me into a gasp.  I rushed back to the paying queue.  Paid up.  Tried to pay too much.  Slunk out, relieved to have paid for what is worth paying for - the cost of producing pages which speak truth, good humour, warmth and the courage of a writer.


  1. Lovely.blog, Liz. Think we can all identify. Have just been to Carol Ann Duffy reading, followed by book signing. Came over all shy and just about managed to say hello from Paula Meehan to her. (And I once stole a jar of make-up from a chemist's in my teens. Could never bring myself to use it - though sweegies from Woolorth's were fair game...