Elgin -- if it wasn't for the fact that I've been stuck behind some slow-arsed bastard all the way from the town of Keith it would be a lovely day. Somehow pottering along at 40 MPH on the Northeast's most dangerous road while some hairy idiot cleans out his earholes with a biro takes the shine off things. But the sun is splitting the cobbles as She Who Must Be Taken Along To Point Out Interesting Items Of Scenery* and I pull up alongside the pond outside the library. Next to the ugliest duck I've ever seen. This is one fowl the whole 'ugly duckling' tale missed: he started off looking ike the back end of a turkey, and that's how he grew up.
We're a bit early, because I've got no idea when I'm supposed to be doing my thing. All the emails say is 'afternoon', so I've made sure to be there before 12, just in case. There follows a bit of wandering about, cheesy smiles and wondering who the hell I should be talking to.
She Who Must Hang Around, Otherwise She'll Be Off Molesting The Shops and I sit in on one of the lunchtime workshops, then head off into the sunshine so I can 'gather my thoughts for the coming event', AKA saunter about for a while, making fun of the ducks and spotting tiny fishies in the river. And if we hadn't done that I'd've never discovered Elgin's hidden gem: The Biblical Gardens. These are situated just opposite the ruins of the cathedral (£4.00 for a shooftie from those privateering bastards at Historic Scotland) and seem to consist of slightly dodgy sculptures clarted in bronze Hammerite paint.
There's a tableau just inside the gate, featuring three 'young people' -- two boys and a girl -- demonstrating something about unity and the love of God... allegedly. It looks to me like the bloke on the end in the Buddy Holly glasses is trying to nick the wallet out of the back pocket of the boy next to him. That or he's trying to cop a feel. Either way I think it's contraindicated in the bible.
Further in there's a well, where Jesus (the only white statue in the whole place -- by which I don't mean he's the only Caucasian, I mean he's painted in Dulux Brilliant White, rather than shiny Hammerite bronze) is making what can only be described as 'Fonze-like' gestures at a woman opposite. From the wonderbra perkiness of her front we can only assume this is meant to be Mary Magdalene. Plus she has a very pert arse, a fact the sculptor (because it's got to be a bloke) has drawn attention to by making her rear end look like it's eating her robe. Maybe she's been having a deep and personal scratch at her fundament when all of a sudden the Lord's only son has appeared and she's decided it's a bit unladylike to be caught having a rectal rummage in polite company. That's the sort of thing we want to see in civic sculpture.
And then it's back to the library for me: keynote speaker, believe it or not, where 'Stuart will be talking about how he researches his police procedural novels, featuring: "scenes from a post mortem", "never trust British TV police shows", "stuff I've got wrong", "real life can get you sued", and "why the people who produce CSI should be taken outside and shot".' Talk about jumping stark naked outside your comfort zone. All I've ever done before is rambling anecdotes joined together with babbling nonsense. This is, like, proper work!
Just to be on the safe side I grab some volunteers from the audience and cast them in the roles of victim: Angela, and murderess: Jill. Then we act out the murder and I use it as a framework for the whole police procedural thing, hoping no one in the audience knows what I'm talking about, or they'll be able to point out the HUGE holes in my knowledge.
Everything's going well as I ramble into the Post Mortem segment, demonstrating on my volunteer cadaver what the APT and Pathologist do to you after death. Then I look up and see a couple of green faces in the audience of 50(ish). And that's with me trying to keep it informative and entertaining. I hurry to the end -- skipping some of the more gory bits -- but even so, one lady has to hurry from the hall, looking decidedly the worse for wear. Oops...
In the end I run over by about 20 minutes before someone in charge gets up and politely hints that it's time for me to shut the hell up. After all, we still have coffee, tea, and the results of the short story competition to go. The winner turns out to be a nice lady from 200 miles south, who She Who Must and I shared a lunch table with. She reads her entry at the end and it's wonderfully poignant and very well written. (OK, I had nothing to do with judging the competition, but I got her a cup of brown coffee, so I'm justified in taking some of the credit)
Afterwards it was another hour and a half battle through traffic back to Casa MacBride and a huge bout of exhaustion. Hard work this 'sounding like you know what you're talking about' lark.
* NEVER, EVER is She Who Must put in charge of directions after an unfortunate trip to Huntly ended up in Fettercairn.