Friday, September 18, 2015

Bloody, bloody Scotland!!

As you will know from Jeff, it was the fourth annual Bloody Scotland crime writing festival last weekend.  Due to my superb ninja powers I survived.

Caro Ramsay, Lin Anderson and Alex Sokoloff

The Festival sold over 6000 tickets, it supported the refugee campaign and it gave free entry to events for those registered unemployed so it was a jolly good effort all round.  Martina Cole, Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Linwood Barclay were the support crew with Caro Ramsay and Jeff Siger being the headline acts.  I am a fiction writer.

Matt Bendoris who had the best title of the year!

At the annual award winning dinner there was a good ruffle of laughter as the chairman of the sponsors called Matt Bendoris, Matt Benders.  If you look at the cover of the DM For Murder it can look like Benders. ...or can it?

 Last year the same man called Denise Mina, Denis.  This is a photograph of me confirming that Matt was wearing his own legs under his kilt for the award dinner.  It had been a subject of speculation.

This is a picture of abject terror.  We were doing spontaneous crime writing from the stage which would have been fine if the bloke in charge had arrived more than one minute before we went on stage.  We were clueless.

This is me trying to scare the audience into giving us something decent to talk about.  My co-conspirators Christopher Brookmyre and Kevin Wignall were marvellous.  Kevin who is English/Belgian had no idea that Ailsa Craig was an island - he thought it was a person and suddenly the story took on a whole new meaning. Before he said his bit Ailsa Craig had been lying in the dark, silent sea surrounded by fog.  When it got to his turn he asked her in for a drink.

The three of us not really following anything.  But formulating some plan to assassinate Donald Trump using sweetheart cabbage and a bag of half chewed Haribos.

Somewhere in this audience is someone claiming to be John Grisham.  He looked suspiciously like Jeff Siger to me.  Come to think of it, I have never seen John Grisham and Jeff Siger in the same room.  

The plot is well on its way now. See me scribble in my notebook as I try desperately to keep some vaguely consistent narrative thread.

This is me telling Christopher Brookmyre how long an assassin's rifle would be and that it would be easier to get the rifle in the case than it would be to get the assassin in the case as somebody in the audience had suggested.

At this point my smile is rather forced as I wanted to kill the .... Seemingly at one point I told him to 'shut up' as he was spoiling a nice wee story line we were building about the blind Belgian's golden retriever and Donald Trump's wig. And the fact they would be very similar down as assassin's sight.

Sanity rules in the post event signing.  After this someone poured a glass of wine down my throat as Jeff tried to explain to me exactly where Portland is.  Either of the Portlands. I got confused as one of the Portland's described as 'east' is west of Portland. Like Krakatoa being in the wrong place in the film title.

At some point the next day we had a legal beagle panel with two of my favourite writers.  Jeff was there as well.  This is Neil White, Jeff and Steve Cavanagh.  Steve is a new author to me and has written a legal courtroom drama where the defence counsel has a bomb strapped to his chest.   No pressure.  I have asked him to do a guest blog for us later. The minute he spoke I knew he was a Belfast man as he sounded exactly like my grandad.

This is the three amigos in conversation with Craig Sisterton. With a Kiwi, a New Yorker, a Belfast man and a Yorkshireman, it was the most accented panel of Bloody Scotland.

Practising my bubble blowing ninja skills, it is more difficult than it looks.

The venue for the football.  Pretty.

The three ninjas in full flow.

The most photographed being at the football.  This dog scored more hits than Matt Bender's right leg.

As you may recall last year the score was something like 14 - 0.  It was the weekend after the referendum.  This year the English realised the Scots were taking it very seriously and somehow drafted in some very professional looking players and a couple of Icelanders.  The end result 5 - 5 was fair play to all says Caro through gritted teeth.

Craig Robertson waiting for the ball to come his way. It did. Five times.

Jeff on the sidelines. He wanted to play but we held him back. Or held him up. One of the two.

What nice authors we are, showing off Neil Broadfoot's book!
eagle eyed MIEers will spot Mr Douglas Skelton.

What grand surroundings.

Mr Malone trying not to recall the memory of his matching kilt and underpants ensemble. ( He was only ten at the time)

Caro Ramsay. Bloody Scotland survivor 18/09/2015 


  1. This sounds like so much fun, that I can feel my feet getting itchy for next year!

  2. Permit me to offer this bit of advice: NEVER EVER call a bubble totting ninja a "Cheerleader."

    Nuf said on that.

    But I can't say enough about Bloody Scotland, its wonderful venue, first rate organization, and make-you-feel-right-at -home-staff. The pubs weren't bad either.

    As for Caro the Magnificent--that's how everyone refers to her in Scotland--she's the perfect example of how wonderfully generous and open we found every Scot we met all across that enchanting land.

    Not sure if that gets me off the Cheerleader blacklist, but it's true.


    John Grisham

  3. Caro, I will be there next year. Can we have a "Foreigners who write about Scots" or "Scots Abroad" panel for next year. If Michael or Stan will come, MIEers can be two of the panelists.

  4. Do you get paid to have that much fun? Could a person walk all around and through Scotland in one summer? When wearing a kilt is matching underwear (or any) required? These are things a twisted, yet curious, mind often wonders about.

  5. Thanks, Caro the Munificent, for all the great photos and the purely factual reporting. All too often, other unnamed jokers and jefters who write in this space are all too stingy with the truth in columns, and it's refreshing to about reality for a change, like Scottish Ninjas and inebriated ladies who float in the sea like a rock.

    Well done!

  6. I do my best EvKa as the investigative journalist (haggis department). Where is Portland?
    Michael- for those that wear matching tartan underwear, it's not their feet that get itchy- you would be very welcome.
    Annamarie - I will put forward your suggestions, it would be fun wouldn't it?
    Jono? Yes we got paid. We have no summer so you can take all the time you like and only when you are brought up by nuns!!! Bet your mind is spinning out of control now!

    1. From a purely objective point of view, the only Portland that really matters is about 70 miles due north of me. So just come visit me and you'll almost be there. But it's split by a river, so there's west Portland and east Portland, but they're both a long way west of you... or an even longer way east of you. I suppose you could go north or south and get there, too, and you probably WOULD go north if you flying directly here, as the flights from London to Seattle or Portland DO go over the ice cap... what remains of it.

  7. I think Jeff hinted we were going to the other Portland... but one day Evka, one day...

    1. I suspect so, since the OTHER Portland (Maine) is mostly due north of where he sometimes gets exposed to poison ivy... Or, maybe it's yet some OTHER Portland? Oh, joyous adventures! :-)