Thursday was world book day. This is quite possibly one of my most favourite days. I’m gutted it’s not something we get to celebrate at work. I might suggest next year we take a leaf out of the local schools book and all come dressed as a character from our favourite novels. I’m not sure who I’d choose though as dressing as a detective is a bit dull. I suppose I could don a wax jacket and pair of wellington boots and go as Vera, or a pair of white overalls and be Kay Scarpetta. The local school had a huge array of costumes I spotted on the way to work. As well as the usual Harry Potters there was the Gruffalo, a Gangsta granny, and even a little red dragon.
More exciting than just getting to wear a fancy costume apparently all the children got given a book token. Am I only the person who thinks book tokens are one of the most fantastic presents ever. Every time I suggest to people that it would make a good gift for someone I get laughed at. How can people not think that book tokens are great? It’s almost like two presents in one, you not only get a free book you get the joy of choosing it yourself.
I was very excited the other day when I realised that national book tokens still exist. I remember getting these as a child and it would take me weeks to decide what I wanted. It hasn’t changed as I’ve got older. Whenever I get a token the ability to decide what I want suddenly disappears. Give me cash and I’ll buy the first book I find off my wish list but as soon as it comes to a token I’m a dithering wreck. It’s the most important decision in the world and making the wrong one thereby wasting my all important book token is catastrophic.
I haven’t actually seen a book token for a long time, and sadly I suspect they are no longer paper based things. They are no doubt credit card style items that get ‘topped up’ which isn’t quite as exciting in my mind but still book tokens are book tokens and the thrill of choosing books never goes away.
I hope that those who celebrated world book day enjoyed spending their book tokens. I wonder if I organised the day at work I could persuade them to let us have book tokens too. I would need to come up with a better character to dress up as though.
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!