Tag Archives: ian rankin

End in tears (of sadness at the end of TOPCWF)

Going out bras, spot porn, fart jokes, and murder – it could only be The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing festival (TOPCWF for short)

Our bathroom at the Crown was a lot cleaner.

Yet again it was a superb weekend over in Harrogate, with an absolute cornucopia of authors and bloggers from all over the country (and the world) I know I probably say this every year but I really think this year’s event was the best ever. Well, in all aspects except the weather. Sadly someone forgot to order the usual bright sunshine, and Saturday was positively torrential. However the river like streets didn’t seem to dampen any enthusiasm.

As usual there were some big hitting names. Kathy Reichs was making her first appearance at the festival discussing everything from bones to beavers (the dam making kind before you get any ideas) and Ann Cleaves bought along not one but three celebrity TV stars to keep us all entertained whilst talking all things Vera and washing machines.

One of the funniest events of the weekend was the late night panel, featuring Sarah Millican chairing, with Val McDermid, Lee Child and Mark Billingham. Secrets were flying round the ballroom, from who used to have David Beckham washing his car to who sleeps naked, and which celebrity nearly crushed their dogs head with her (or his!) boob. This was probably my most favourite session of the weekend and they all had the whole room in stitches.

The quiz is always a highlight of the event, and this year was no exception. Questions range from music to pictures, with our hosts Val McDermid and Mark Billingham. There is always a beer tasting round thanks to the Theakstons brewery, although a slight technical hitch meant that the answers weren’t counted. This was a shame really as helpfully the answers were actually written on the drinks so this might have been the one and only round that we actually did any good in.

Ian Rankin and whisky

I know everyone says it but this really is one of the friendliest festivals ever. For a bunch of people who spend their time thinking of murder, death and crime most of the time, the people at this festival are some of the nicest you will ever meet.  Where else would you get to discuss whisky with Ian Rankin (Laphroaig is one of his favourites if anyone wants to send him some, mine too by the way!) or talk shopping with Eva Dolan?

 

Of course for us readers the real bonus to this weekend is the sheer amount of books on offer. Strangely I actually heard a couple complaining that their goody bags had too many books in them. Clearly these people are not friends of mine, and frankly I worry for their mental health. There is no such thing as too many books. All in all TOPCWF is really one of the best weekends in the world, and I am sure a few tears are shed when it’s over and we all have to go back to mundane real life.

Whilst I am never going to start watching spot porn, or be the kind of woman that owns going out bras, I am definitely the kind of woman that is going to be back in 2018. Especially as Lee Child is rumoured to be the next programme chair!

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Coffee, tea or murder

Last weekend I was lucky enough to sample the delights of afternoon tea in Bettys in York. It was all very civilised. We bypassed the usual never ending queue into the main café, and were led straight to our table in the previously unseen upstairs. We then spent a very nice afternoon eating salmon sandwiches, scones, cakes and drinking tea. Well ok, as a coffee drinking vegetarian I’d already put my special request in so I had Betty’s posh coffee and very nice avocado sandwiches.

The first Betty’s cafe was opened in the home of the ‘Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival’ The lovely spa town of Harrogate back in 1919 and still remains its most popular café. Me and the Sister went in last year for coffee and cake and were surrounded by people excitedly discussing the festival and carrying goody bags. I’ve no doubt this year will be no exception.

The programme for the event has recently been released and once again it looks a fantastic few days. There are some great special guests, including Ruth Rendell being interviewed by Jeanette Winterson which I’m especially looking forward to. I’ve always been a big fan of Ruth Rendell. Although I’ve not read any of Jeanette Winterson’s books apart from ‘Oranges are not the only fruit’ which as a child I had to keep hidden under my bed as it would most definitely not have been classed as suitable reading.

I’ve not yet been through the entire programme in detail, or indeed planned my reading list for the next few months but at first glance it looks an excellent programme. Some of the speakers are old favourites from last year, whilst some are brand new such as William McIlvanney who I hadn’t even heard of until I saw he was being interviewed by Ian Rankin so will be looking out his novels.

This year’s TV tie in panel is Vera. Ann Cleaves (star of last year’s murder mystery themed dinner) is going to be joined by those who are responsible for bringing her novels to tv, including actor Brenda Blethyn. Another interesting sounding session features forensic anthropologist Professor Sue Black OBE. I’m always fascinated by how far fiction actually mirrors real life, and how much artistic license authors have to employ to keep the story moving.

One of the special guests this year is Lee Child, I have to confess that I’ve never actually read any of his books, so he will definitely be an author I put on the top of my list. He’s being interviewed by Comedian Sarah Millican so that should be an excellent session. Special guest on Saturday evening is York born Kate Atkinson, whose Jackson Brodie novels have recently been turned into a tv series. As a York dweller myself I’m always happy to hear from local people.

The one thing that really did stand out of the programme was that there was not one session I would want to miss. Last year me and the Sister did skip a couple, mainly to give us time for food and of course Betty’s cake. This time Betty’s will definitely have to wait until the show is over!

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