My famous furry sidekick and partner in crime Teddy Tedaloo (or McTedaloo) and I are recently back from a glorious weekend in the Shetland Islands of Scotland (aye, laddie), where I was invited to appear at the ninth annual Wordplay book festival. Though I’ve been to other parts of Scotland (see my blog posts 1, 2, 3), this was my first visit that far north, and I was warned of high winds that might blow me over into Norway, but instead I just ended up with my hair being blown the wrong way.
On the Saturday I did a talk and performed readings from my short story “Hell is Where the Heart is” from Getting Even: Revenge Stories and two selections from In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales. I think it went over fairly well, since I didn’t hear any snoring. On the Sunday morning I conducted one of my erotic writing workshops. The somewhat unusual fact that it was scheduled at 10am on a Sunday morning was pointed out to me by several people, and, though I worried that it might conflict with church services, I went ahead with it anyway, playing to a sellout crowd who clearly found some divine inspiration!
I tell you, it was all happening in Lerwick that weekend. Aside from Wordplay, there was Screenplay (the film festival), and even a blues festival taking place. Ted and I managed to squeeze in the screening of Requiem for Detroit from film director Julien Temple, who was in attendance. We even went on a boat cruise to Bressay and Noss, which left at least one person seasick (Ted was looking a bit green himself) due to the rough seas, though it was great fun when we went along at a swift clip. We were at the aft with some of the heartier passengers, hanging on for dear life to a pole, the wind in our hair (and fur), as we rode our watery roller coaster. It left me feeling unsteady and queasy for the next 24 hours, but hey, it was worth it!
When I landed in the Shetland Times, I figured I was a pretty hot commodity. I (along with Ted) was also interviewed by the presenters of BBC Radio Shetland’s arts and culture programme “Sideways”, and they were most impressed with Ted’s erudition and fine fashion sense. In fact, I suspect the young lady presenter quite fancied him (can’t say I blame her, Ted being an extremely handsome bear). I suppose with all this publicity it shouldn’t have been surprising that the entire town seemed to know who I was – from the local tourist office to the blokes who operated the tour boat (one of whom suggested I teach erotic writing to the other passengers). I tell you, I was feeling like a real celebrity. Until…
…I found out that Teddy had almost made the cover of the festival brochure. At that point I began to suspect that it might not have been me the festival folk wanted to grace their stages, but Ted. This wasn’t the first time I’ve been upstaged by him; however, things really became glaringly obvious when Julien Temple entered into a discussion with Ted about doing a film about his life, only to end up in tears (Julien, not Ted) when they couldn’t agree on a soundtrack. Julien wanted The Sex Pistols; Ted’s more a Temptations bear. He loves their song “My Bear.” (I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day…)
Which brings me to the subject of food. Did I mention the breakfasts at our hotel? You’d never get that kind of breakfast in London, EVER. I asked for a small kipper to accompany my other selections, and I got a kipper the size of a vintage Cadillac. And it was a real kipper, not some freeze-dried, shrink-wrapped, bargain kipper either. One breakfast was enough to feed me for an entire week.
Of course, no venture outside of my front door is complete without some mishap. My worst fear on returning home was the tube strike, which began at tea time on the day of the evening I was to fly back to London. When I arrived at Gatwick, it was pissing down with rain. However, the adventure had only just begun, for my suitcase had not arrived along with us. I suspect it had remained behind at Edinburgh airport (where we changed planes) to avail itself of the whisky-tasting table at the duty free. Note that I’d carried this piece of luggage with me for the two flights on the way up, but encountered a problem at Sumburgh Airport in Shetland, where my tweezers appeared to spark fears of a terrorist attack.
They searched my suitcase and everything in it looking for my sinister contraband – you’d have thought I had a bomb strapped to my back from the way they were going though my stuff. When they found the offensive item and threatened to take it off me, well… I wasn’t having it. I can’t buy those tweezers anywhere (and they never caused a problem before in a carry-on), so after a few minutes of discussion, they agreed to mail them back to me if I paid for postage. Then it was suggested (especially since the plane was a small propeller one) that I should just check the bag all the way to London. By that time I would have agreed to anything, therefore I hurriedly checked it, instantly regretting it and having an ominous sense of foreboding that it would not be arriving with me. All during the flight I feared the loss of my mobile phone charger, my camera charger, numerous items of clothing, my favourite black suede boots, the Shetland fudge and Scottish tablet I’d bought, bits and pieces from the festival…
Despite my scarily accurate sixth sense, my tale has a happy ending. The suitcase was recovered (and fully intact) and delivered to my home the next night, and Teddy and I are now making really quick work of that Scottish tablet and Shetland fudge!
If you fancy trying your hand (so to speak) at a bit of erotic writing, you can catch me at my Literotica workshop in the first weekend of October on the Isle of Wight.
(A bit of after-party merriment, featuring fellow Yank, Will Kaufman.)