Friday, August 12, 2016

Island Crime Writing!

I consider myself a rebel, breaking all the rules. MIE is supposed to be an original blog. This isn't, this is stolen from from A N Other as I felt the truth had to be told.
Here's the version for the prosecution by  G J Brown ( a man not to be trusted as you will see, )   I rebut his evidence in brackets.....

Bute Noir – Crime on an Island

I got off the train at Weymms Bay station, dragged my bag through the category A listed, turn of the century, railway station and joined the rag tag line of passengers waiting on the ferry to Rothesay. ( This is true - C)  (Wemyss is how it's spelled Mr Brown...)
It’s midday on Friday the 5th of August and my thoughts are on the weekend ahead. I turn round to see how many more people have joined the queue and a familiar face smiles in my direction. A Liverpudlian accent says hi and I walk back to join Luca Veste. This is the start of Bute Noir for me.
Bute Noir is a new crime writing festival, the brainchild of Craig Robertson and Karen Latto, that lined up 12 authors for a weekend of crime across three venues on the Island of Bute – Rothesay Library, Bute Museum and Print Point.

Front door of Karen's book shop at 90 degrees....

(I was already on the island, pioneering for the MIE bloggers. I was on my way to Mount Stuart House but it was closed for a wedding. So we had a fried egg sandwich instead- C)

(The line up.)
I board the ferry and enter a floating crime writer’s convention in its own right, as Luca and I are joined by some of our cohorts
(From left to right – me, Craig Robertson, Alex Sokoloff, Luca Veste, Douglas Skelton and Michael Malone. Present, but missing from the photo, Alex Gray, Alanna Knight and Caro Ramsay.)

The hub for the festival was the Argyll Guest House, which we had to ourselves. On the ferry Craig asked if I minded sharing a room with Douglas Skelton. I said yes too quickly. Seconds after I nodded my head Douglas turned to me and said ‘I’m trying nasal strips to help with the snoring.’ My relief was palpable when I checked in to find we all had our own rooms.
The first event kicked off at three o’clock with me chairing Craig and Luca.
( I was in the room next door and I thought the ferry had run around with the racket that was going on, but it was somebody snoring....C)

(Luca’s body language saying ‘OK Craig – enough with the sarcastic remarks.’)
The theme was serial killers with Craig’s new book, ‘Murderabilia’ and Luca’s latest, ‘Then She Was Gone’ featuring a slew of dead bodies. The audience, setting a trend for the whole weekend, were engaged and loaded up with questions at the Q & A section. Books were signed, wine drunk, thanks given and we were off to a flying start.
I’d like to say that I made it to every event but there was a technical issue that prevented me from doing so (and before it’s said it wasn’t the pub). Venues selling out meant that space was limited for the authors. So I made the sacrifice and stepped aside to let the paying guests take their rightful place for the next few events. ( I am a lot shorter than Gordon, and meaner. So I sneaked in and hid. Did not manage to be quiet tho'  -C )
Everyone involved in the festival did us proud with some stunning displays across all the venues. ( It was fab, this is true.....c)
(Display in the library – the press took a photo of us all in front of this but I forgot to do the same.) ( I forgot too for also - C )
With a nice creative twist the festival had linked a book from each author to an object in the museum – providing content for posters and bookmarks. ( I had a crow....C)
(My poster – with me trying, and failing, to look cool in sunglasses and black t shirt.)
Later in the afternoon Craig, Luca and I were grabbing a refreshment when Craig snapped upright and announced that he was supposed to be on Bute Island Radio in five minutes. He rushed out leaving Luca and I in his dust. Ten minutes later the manager of the station appeared and says to the two of us that Craig wants us to join him on air. We are whisked into the studio to talk gibberish. Just as we are settling into our rhythm the studio door opens and in walks Chris Brookmyre to join us.  ( I like the use of the word refreshment....C)
(Luca, me, Chris, Mike Blair (DJ) and Craig in the Bute Island Radio studio)
The first day finished with Chris in the library. He signed off the evening with a short story entitled Puck Knows – so Chris.  ( I am going to say here and now that Gordon mentioning wearing his kilt to Bouchercon...C)
We were all good people and off to bed we went (believe what you want). ( So why was I woken up by you lot singing along to the Olympic opening ceremony at two in the morning?? C)
The next morning I took a stroll up the Serpentine to ‘Spring clean’ my head.
(Go on, beat this for a Saturday morning view – Rothesay in the sun)
Before we all kicked off again the inaugural Brookmyre Cup was held on Rothesay’s famous putting greens. Six players entered (Chris, Luca, Craig, Douglas, Michael and me – with Caro as official umpire) and I emerged victorious. ( I was, as we used to say in the playground, holding the jackets. C)
(There were six in the competition but I suspect that Luca was having a quick ciggie when this photo was taken.)
The festival resumed at lunchtime with an event entitled ‘Caro Ramsay and Friends’ (who knew she had friends). Chris and Craig did the manful thing and stepped in to be Caro’s mates – another one I missed because there wasn’t a spare square inch the room.  ( We were  marvellous and grown up- for the first three minutes or so....C)
Later in the day Michael chaired Alex.
(Michael deciding a glass of vodka is in order)
Next I found myself squeezed in at the back of Print Point. When I say squeezed I use the word to its full effect. The only way to explain the crowd that sat down to watch Luca and Douglas debate the merits of Liverpool and Glasgow is to introduce that well known acronym – TARDIS. Not being bias in any way the outcome of the city debate was a forgone conclusion. Glasgow won. (I’m writing this – so my view is all that matters). I And I have stolen this blog and wonder who thought it would ever be a competition. Of course - Glasgow s miles better C)
(Luca and Douglas in full flow. Look closely – strategically Luca is in the Health section with Douglas filed under Cookery  – just saying).
As the festival drew to a close Alex Sokoloff and myself debated the role of supernatural in the library (and were told some very chilly ghost stories by the audience).
The whole event was rounded off by a quiz. Not to put to fine a point on it my team, Ramsay, Skelton and Brown, roundly beat Brookmyre, Veste and Malone despite Craig, as the chair, docking us points for various infringements (he even knocked off a point when I gave him a tenner). (As the team was called Team Ramsay, and as I am very, very bossy, it was MY team. And if truth be told, Douglas Skelton won it for us. He knew the theme tune to Hamish MacBeth. He needs to get out more. He should be hired out for pub quizzes. C )
                                (Douglas on the far right before I nearly fractured his hand in a race to get to the buzzer...)
(An unstaged shot if ever I saw one)
The weekend finished on a high with the quiz. We all mingled with the audience afterwards and gauging by the number of requests for it all to happen again next year I feel that something good has been born.
The next day even the weather was a little melancholy that it was all over.
(It wasn't a little melancholy, it was going to be so bad later the ferry was going off. We hightailed it for the early ferry and that was dicey getting back into Wemyss Bay )
Summing up the weekend is easy. Wonderful. It’s the only word I need. Let’s be serious – when you turn up to find a goodie bag like this – what else can you say.

(I said yum yum and scoffed all the scoffables)

Caro Ramsay and the delectable GJ Brown at Rothesay    12 08 2016


  1. If Gordon shows up at NOLA in a kilt, I hope he won't mind all the beads tossed at him from gawkers along Bourbon Street shouting requests about his bute noir in accents best described as lower Glaswegian.

    From the cast of characters attending, it had to be a blast!

  2. It was a truly magical event. Packed audiences, lovely coffee and home made scones!!

  3. My hand has almost recovered.

    1. Well you did leave it on the buzzer when the one question that I knew the answer to was asked.....

  4. Caro, I believe all of this, especially how much fun it was. But what is that blue stuff at the top of the panoramic photo taken from the Serpentine? No fair photoshopping the pictures to make the event seem even nicer than it was.

    1. Oh the weather was lovely, then terrible. At one point it went from brilliant sunshine to gale force downpour in about half an hour.