To Edinburgh last night for This Side of Paradise, Illicit Ink’s utopia-themed show in memory of Iain Banks at the Bongo Club. It was a fitting tribute, with strong contributions from Halstead Bernard, Tom Moore, Hal Duncan, Erin McElhinney, Araidne Cass-Moran and mein host Andrew Wilson. It was especially great though to have the show closed out by Iain’s childhood friend and fellow sf author Ken MacLeod with a well-judged piece. This being Scotland, there were no tearful encomiums, just good writing, well performed.
Performers and audience repaired to the Bow Bar afterwards, which if it wasn’t actually the watering hole of choice for 17th century convicted witch Thomas Weir, certainly should have been. For it was a night of strange portents: the Rail Bridge, strung across a sky of deepest blue as I drove over at half past seven, was completely obscured as I came back: sailcloth shards of fog billowed through the cheese-slicer cable supports of the Road Bridge, roiling upriver.
As soon as the car reached the Fife side, however, the mist disappeared, and I drove on in a still, clear, night. My choice of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon proved to be an eerie soundtrack to all of this, and having pressed play just as I tipped down Broughton Street (I tend to leave the music till then, to concentrate on the City of Edinburgh Council’s latest roadworks mind games) the final bars of the last track thundered to a close the very second I turned into my driveway. Spooky, man.
Oh, and a guy approached me on my way back to the car in the Cowgate and asked me if I wanted any ‘grass.’ What an utterly strange time and place for a landscape contractor to be trying to offload surplus turf.