Friday, 25 October 2013

Posts from BOOKMARK - And Now Raise Your Glasses

And Now Raise Your Glasses

Oct 24 2013
This is going to be my last post on the BOOKMARK blog and so it seemed fitting to include the event which concluded BOOKMARK 2013 – Charles Maclean’s whisky tasting session – or at least the session preceding it seeing as I didn’t take part in any whisky tasting because I’m slightly too young for that.

 Anyway, I sat down at the beginning of the session, thinking I could melt away into the background. I was wrong. I received a shout out (and so did the tech team), thanking me for being BOOMARK’s official blogger. This meant the entire audience turned and stared at me. Nonetheless, it was great to hear how much my work has been appreciated, and it’s also been nice reading the comments left on the posts, but there was someone else who I thought ought to have been mentioned. Without the editing skills of Hilda Reilly, my posts would, no doubt, be full of spelling and punctuation mistakes that I failed to pick up in the heat of writing. So thank you, Hilda.

 Throughout the rest of Charles’s session I picked up a huge amount of information on whisky (which I’m sure will be put to use in later life). The audience seemed hugely enthusiastic, judging by their response to Mr Maclean’s easy manner on stage and the amount of participation in the session which was unscripted and relied on questions asked by audience members. And, despite the lack of scripting, Charles managed to speak without faltering once. Hats off to him, I say. Unfortunately he happens to be the only person whose session I listened in on and didn’t get the chance to interview! We did share a few quick words, but he had to take charge of the whisky tasting session which started at 4.30pm, so I interviewed a few BOOKMARK volunteers instead.

 I met Jan and Heather outside the Hub and decided to pounce on them for their opinion of BOOKMARK (which I also used in an article for the Blairie).

“For a first year it’s been a great experience,” said Jan.

“It’s been great for those who have been helping too. It’s been enjoyable,” was Heather’s verdict.

 And you know, I couldn’t agree more. Helping out with the blog for BOOKMARK has been so much fun and has given me the opportunity to meet many well-known writers and, more importantly, has enabled me to take part in something that I know will benefit the community enormously. But what kick-started the whole concept of BOOKMARK in the first place?

I put the question to Christine Findlay.

“I belong to two reading groups in Blairgowrie and am an avid book festival goer,” she told me. “It struck me that Blairgowrie, a town working hard to regenerate its economy and its identity, might benefit from a new project such as a book festival. I had been to several other small book festival towns (Melrose, Wigton, Ullapool etc.) and seen the benefits which had come directly from hosting a successful book festival. So it was a combination of my own love of reading, a lifelong desire to encourage that love of reading in others (I had a long career as an English teacher) and a belief that bringing a book festival to Blairgowrie, Rattray and The Glens could contribute to the area’s regeneration programme which collectively motivated me.”

Thanks to Christine’s determination and the hard work of the BOOKMARK team, audiences were able to enjoy a brilliant first festival – long may that continue.

 I have to say, though, there was one thing that did disappoint me about BOOKMARK – I didn’t get the opportunity to interview all of the authors taking part! Nor was I able to listen in on all of the sessions, like Karen Campbell’s or Joan Lennon’s. But never mind, there’s always a next time.