Past the edges

Inverness was a nice, albeit short, weekend away. Within a couple of hours after arriving at Balintraid House, we were holding a three-week old kitten and feeding peahens and laughing with the hostel owner, Anita. Neither Felicity nor I brought any work with us. Felicity brought a pleasure book about Anglo-Saxons and I read a book about fairies and the Elizabethan court. We paid homage at St Andrews Cathedral, tramped around Urquhart Castle while talking about monasticism, and saw the loch from at least three different vantage points. Because what two medievalists do on holiday is… read about the edges of the medieval period and visit a medieval castle and talk about the medieval church and politics. Er.

While at Urquhart, we determined that every castle ought to be restored to its former glory, using medieval methods á là Guédelon Chateau. Once completed, the castles should be occupied by the medievalists that helped supervise the project, thus creating living museums. Then all medievalists will have jobs. The end.

Another very important discovery was that of Leakey’s Antique Books and Café. I allowed myself to purchase the coveted and out-of-print English Literature in the Sixteenth Century by C. S. Lewis, but did not purchase Isaac Disraeli’s Curiosities of Literature, even though I really wanted to. And while I was ever so slightly disappointed that there wasn’t a Bentley parked outside, I did see an old Morgan parked outside College Gate yesterday. I glanced out the window whilst writing an email to Kelly and stopped mid-sentence to procure photographic proof. Kelly has threatened to take away my copy of Good Omens, citing the Danger of Obsession: ‘merely that there are limits – call them the boundaries of sanity’.

‘As for boundaries of sanity: I prefer life on the edge,’ I replied. It most certainly does not help that every time I see tartan I recall, ‘Tartan is stylish.’ I live in Scotland mind you.

But regarding obsession, Felicity and I went to Edinburgh this afternoon to go to the International Book Festival. After waiting nearly three hours in the queue, and being herded from one tent to another, I actually stood in the presence of the demigod that is Neil Gaiman. I had meant to say something along the lines of, ‘I wasn’t able to write my dissertation with a straight face because of this book1‘, but instead I was very well-behaved, said my name when he asked how it was pronounced, and thanked him very politely before leaving the tent. Felicity very patiently listened to my fangirling the hour and a half it took us to get back home: ‘He smiled at us. He said our names. He signed our books. He really is a nice person.’ And he is. Very personable and kind, and even though I only held his attention for two minutes, it was worth skiving off the Devilish Dissertation for a few hours. If I ever become a well-known author, I want to be as cool as Neil Gaiman. I’ll even draw pictures.


1 Good Omens, of course. What else?