I am not an alien...

Well, the event at Newtonhill last night seemed to go OK. The place was packed, everyone got tanked up on Library wine* and stappit-foo with canap├ęs, and I got asked one of the weirdest questions I've ever had at any event.

Because this was the inaugural event of the first ever Portlethen Literary Arts Festival, someone thought it would be a good idea to have a photocall with some of the local school kids, followed by a quick Q&A, before crisps and juice, then a bit of buggering off before the main event started. Being as it would contain one or two naughty words.

Actually, the kid's questions were surprisingly good, including one I can't repeat here, because the person asking it was too shy to do so out loud and had to hand it to me on a slip of paper. I'd tell you what it said, but that would mean betraying writer/small-questioner confidentiality and I'd be defrocked if I did that**. But the best question of the night -- the very best question ever -- was from a little girl called Nicola and it wasn't even directed at me, it was directed at her mum, Susan. She looked at her mum, with big, serious eyes and said, "How do you know he's not an alien?"

And the best bit? Her mum didn't seem even remotely phased by this. Clearly Alien abduction is a frequent topic of conversation in their household. I suppose it would be a different way to deal with the death of a childhood pet, wouldn't it?

"Mummy? Mummy, I woke up this morning and Mr Hoppity isn't in his cage any more. Where is he?"
Mummy washes the shallow-grave dirt from her hands, thinks about it for a moment, then says, "Mr Hoppity was abducted by aliens, darling."
"Oh..." says the small child, bottom lip trembling for a moment, "Are they the same aliens that abducted Mr Fishy, Tiddles the cat, and Grandad?"
"Yes, darling. They collect them for experiments."
The small child gives a solemn nod. "Mr Hoppity isn't going to like all the anal probes, is he mummy?"
"Not as much as Grandad, no..."

But I digress. I've started doing something new in the events, since Birmingham, to go along with the usual rambling anecdotes and odd bit of reading (complete with silly voices, which I know some people think frightfully unprofessional, but I enjoy it, so what the hell), I now read out crappy reviews from Amazon. Which is actually a lot more fun than it sounds.

When I was down staying with the Guthries last weekend, Allan and I spent a happy Saturday morning drinking tea, reading out our worst Amazon one-star reviews, and laughing our arses off. Much to the bemusement of She Who Must Put Up With This Kind Of Thing From Time To Time, Donna, and Ed The Dog Of Nervousness.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go abduct someone's rabbit.

* Which is a lot more literary than normal wine.
** Assuming I was wearing a frock in the first place, which I haven't done for YEARS...

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