I'm in Edinburgh, staying with Mum and doing some festival things. I've mainly been to things at the book festival, but I've also been to some things at the fringe. The combination of TLC from Mum, interesting talks at the book festival, and comedy and other distraction at the fringe festival events have been revitalising. Okay, so I'm knacked from doing a bit too much, but it's good to be away and to be doing fun things.
Last night we went to a wonderful ... exhibition ... experience ... thing at the botanic gardens - a sound and light show called Power Plant. We were admitted in groups of about 50, but it was unguided and you could take as much time as you liked to go around so long as you were out by midnight, because that's when they locked the gates. The 'show' consists of various light and sound installations mainly in the glass houses, although one or two of the 'sculptures' are outside, and the audience walk through at their leisure taking whatever time they want. Because it's dark then everyone has to go slowly, which is rather nice as it takes the rush out of life and makes you appreciate what's going on around you. Many of the things are quite ethereal and surreal, and we came out feeling a bit like we'd been in some Dr Who experience, but in a good way, and actually as you progressed through the 'exhibition' (I'm still not sure what to call it) you could see people relaxing and smiling as they wandered around. I took some photos and I'll post some up when I've downloaded them onto my computer so that you get more idea of what it was like.
Earlier in the week I went to see Paul Merton's Improv Chums which was great fun, very funny and impressively clever. I've wanted to see Paul Merton live for years, but never been organised enough to book well enough in advance. This year I had loads of time to plough my way through the Fringe Festival brochure while I was in hospital and mark things I wanted to go to and actually manage to book them from my hospital bed too. I love comedy and Paul Merton was hugely entertaining. It's a shame it was only an hour of unadulterated laughter, because it really picked up my spirits.
Some of the book festival talks I've been to have also been funny, in particular A. L. Kennedy, and to an extent Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, but the book festival is a very different format and, by the nature of the festival, has it's main focus on the writers' new or up-coming books. The format generally taken is discussion/interview between the Chair and the writer, followed by or interspersed with a reading from the book in question, and then comments or questions by the audience. Each talk is an hour and they're usually very different from one another, which provides an interesting variety to the day. Oh, and after each talk the authors almost always do a book signing so I tend to come away from the festival with a whole load of new books I want to read, but also don't want to damage or make look too well-read because they're signed.
I put my foot in it at one of the book signings the other day. I'd been to see Steve Bloom, who's an amazing (and very famous) photographer, primarily of wildlife. His presentation was quite different from any other I've been to at the book festival and largely comprised a slide show of about 150 of his photos while he talked about them and the taking of them. It was wonderful. I've seen some of his photographs before, but have to say that for the most part I haven't known that he'd taken them. Anyway, I thought I recognised a couple of the photos he showed the other day from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition that I went to with Dad the other week, and then thought I recognised his name from that exhibition, and in fact that he'd been the winner. After the talk/show/presentation I went to the book tent, bought a couple of his books (I wanted them all, told myself I could only afford one, and came away with two. Oops.) and queued up to get them signed. When I got to the front I asked him if I was right in thinking that he'd won Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and I was all ready to congratulate him, when he looked very uncertain and said, '... No ... I haven't entered that ...' Not quite knowing what to say now I tried to explain myself by saying that I was sure that I'd recognised some of his photos from the current WPY exhibition, and again he looked unsure and said, ' ... Not unless someone else has submitted my photos.' Hmmm, what to say now? 'Er, well ... hmm ... sorry ... I was ... um ... sorry about that.' Oh, what eloquence! I sloped off with my signed copies of his books feeling rather stupid and embarrassed.
It turns out the photographer I was misremembering as Steve Bloom was actually Steve Winter.
I have to admit that I think I've done rather too much while I've been up here. In a general way it'd be okay, but hot on the heels of having been so poorly, and still being significantly anaemic, I've pushed myself a little too far. This was pretty much confirmed by my passing out in the shower yesterday morning. I was washing my hair when suddenly everthing started to disappear, and then I slithered down the wall, passed out and came too in a heap on the floor. I don't think I was out for the count for long, but I was still fairly lucky not to knock my head on the tiles or succumb to inhalation of water ... er ... drowning. I managed to get up and then tried again to wash off the soap that I'd just slathered all over myself, but the world started to close in on me again so I gave up on that as a bad idea and decided that drying the soap off with a towel was a better option than acquainting myself with the floor again. However, I still found that it would be a good idea to spend a while sitting on the floor before making my way through to the bedroom, but I eventually made it ... and then collapsed onto the bed. This was a considerably softer landing than the shower floor, but still not a great position to find myself in, not least because I was soaking wet and making the bed soaking wet ... not that that kind of thing is in the forefront of one's mind when you're in the middle of passing out ... Anyway, I lay there for a bit, waited for the world to reappear and the noisy rush of fainting to disappear from the inside of my head and proceeded to get ready for the rest of the day. I managed to get through without any more passing out, but I did feel very feak and weeble and shaky all day. Definitely a sign that I've been doing a bit too much though so I've taken things easier today, and only have one event on at the book festival tomorrow and Wednesday (before I drive home). I think I may need to make an appointment with my GP for sometime when I get home though to get my Hb levels checked and make sure that they're not getting stupidly low again. It's probably wiser to do that than keep flaking out all over the place.