Monday, 13 December 2010
So there was I chatting to Ian Rankin over lunch with the volcanic rock and outline of Edinburgh Castle as my backdrop waiting for someone to pinch me. A pencil in the ribs. Something.
The occasion was the annual dinner for the Scottish chapter of the Crime Writers’ Association. The numbers were down because of the appalling weather, but those in attendance –among others - also included Alex Gray, Lin Anderson, Gordon Brown, Aline Templeton and Caroline Dunsford.
What was Mr Rankin saying to me? Lips. Sealed. What happens in Edinburgh, stays in Edinburgh and all that. Well, actually we talked football (soccer) and drinking mens’ clubs. The latter have been a bit of a tradition in Edinburgh over the centuries and are basically an excuse – like we need one – for men to get together, chat about the issues of the day and get as drunk as lords. Did you know they used to provide wine glasses with no base – so you couldn’t put your glass down until it was empty.
Apparently, back in the day – even in Robert Burns’ day actually, they used to employ servants to sit under the tables. Their job was to wait until their lord and master passed out, fell of their chair and landed on the floor and then to unloosen their cravat to make sure they could breathe and didn’t drown in their own vomit.
They provided a precursor to the recovery position, if you will.
The chat among the Crime Writers was mainly about plans for the first ever festival of Scottish Crime Writing. The event will be called Bloody Scotland and will happen in September 2012. This celebration is in the early stages of planning and I’ll keep you posted. The weekend promises to be something special, so if you are a fan of Scottish crime fiction and you are looking for an excuse to visit our green and handsome shores you now have one.
Saturday was work xmas party time. This was held in a local conference centre where around 3,000 people from a variety of employers/ employment turned up to take part in the revelry.
It takes a pretty slick operation to feed that many people a three course meal and then offer them musical entertainment. Don’t you think the quality of the food always suffers in these type of evenings? You want gourmet? Go to a restaurant. You want food that will soak up the party juice, then you won’t be disappointed. You just have to accept that the meat will be as dry as an old slipper and the vegetables will have the texture of a swamp.
It always amuses me at these events to see how much effort the women go to with their party frocks, hair styling and ...all that other stuff and then compare that to the (majority of) men who settle for a shower, quite possibly a shave and just about to manage to run an iron over their favourite jeans.
For the record, I was wearing a new suit, shirt and tie. An ensemble which only lasted for the time it took to walk through the door, check my coat in at the cloakroom and take a seat with my friends and colleagues. Swear to god, I thought I’d walked into a sauna. The heat was incredible. The organisers might say that they need to put the heat up so that the women are comfortable in their backless, shoulder-less, short dresses. The cynic might suggest that the increased heat would drive people to the bars and the watered-down booze. The realist would argue that, as a crowd, we didn’t need that added inducement.
To be fair there was a fair amount of cloth missing from the female population. And those I did miss, my friend (let’s call her M.D.) was perched at my side to point out the high and low lights with such pronouncements as “Would you look at the nick o’ her!” or ‘Nice set of jugs on the girl at 3 o’clock. And at nine o’clock.” Or the fatal judgement; “Mutton. Dressed. As. Lamb.”
What’s wrong with a nice bit of mutton, I say. And maybe I’m going out on a limb with this opinion – I like to live dangerously, it’s how I roll – but listening to these comments made me realise that women don’t dress to impress men. We just like to kid ourselves that you do. No the truth is that women dress to impress each other. Or at the very least to silent any possible bitchy comments.
Tell me I’m wrong.
But then, the devil on my shoulder asks, what about the yards of cleavage on display? Surely that’s not for other women?