Mary Irvine’s Blog: Booked Festival and Dandelions


Hello there,

I have a terrible habit of writing drafts about current events and then not finishing them. I recently came across some reviews I’d written thus on an Aye Write Festival some two years ago! I determined that I wouldn’t let that happen anymore. And, yes, I do know the old saying about hell and good intentions. But as I don’t believe in any form of afterlife that really doesn’t worry me!  So here we go…

 Booked! Festival of West Dumbarton.


Brooke Magnanti, Balloch Library, Friday 15th May 7.30pm

Didn’t know the name at all but, as usual, I looked it up.* First thing I saw was the front cover of a provocative (I suppose, didn’t do anything for me!) lady with the ubiquitous red bra – obviously at least one size too small and a matching red thong (Now that did evoke some memories!) As I’m quite like to include the occasional erotic piece in my own writing I decided to read on – about the author, not the book – and discovered the author was a well qualified lady who had recently had her first crime thriller published. 

An American born lady but now a British citizen living in Fort William.

  Arriving at the venue, I was disappointed not to find a long queue of men of a certain age eager at least to see, if not to hear, the confessions of Belle de Jour. If that’s non pc I’m sure Pat will contact me… (For those of you old enough, reference the queues of people buying ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ after it had been deemed not obscene. Although most of them were buying it for a friend I believe, there were those who probably had an academic interest in what the courts had decided was not obscene.)

No queue, however. There were about 40 people present, an even mix of male/female and a wide range of ages, from the 20s to the 70s.

Brooke began by reading an extract from her book ‘The Turning Tide’ which is set in the Highland and London, two places she knows well. Before reading she did state she thought it a good idea to write about what you know – advice repeated many times by most authors. (See Belle de Jour for how well she knows London.) The reading began at the beginning and took us up to the point where ‘the body’ was found. The scene was well set and drew the picture quite clearly. The sort of beginning that truly would make people ‘want to read on’.

The idea for the book first emerged in 2009, we were told. The author then attended crime fests, talked to crime writers and read lots of crime fiction, discovering that many more people were involved in a murder than are usually portrayed on the screen, big or small. Several re-writes eventually followed with the ‘biggy’ been a total change of POV

 She felt the POV wasn’t working so re-wrote the novel with one that did! The book did go through three major re-writes in total plus one copy-write for inconsistencies. The final draft reading was done by her husband ‘to weed out any Americanisms’.

During the Q&A session there were lots of questions about Belle de Jour as one might have expected which the author was quite prepared to discuss but many questions did actually relate to the book ‘The Turning Tide’. One in particular resounded with yours truly. How much detail of one’s own expertise to include in such a book? The answer may sound trite to some but I need to pay attention! Enough detail to give authority.

Another pleasant, informative evening.

The Turning Tide by Dr Brooke Magnanti 

Available on Amazon Kindle £6.99 Paperback £10 39

Belle de Jour books also available on Amazon

And now for something completely different… I have observed much ‘weeding’ going on over the past weeks. Me? I have had the most wonderful crop of dandelions. Remember as children when we told the time by the number of puffs it took to blow all the seeds from the head? Next time you approach them armed with a weapon of mass destruction, take time, look at them, enjoy them… They are beautiful.

I saw this graveyard of dandelions. They may have been uprooted but as they lay dying their prodigy will live on as the wind carries the seeds away to be ready for next Spring.

You won’t win. You may win a battle or two but you won’t win the war…

And What of the Dandelion?


The Romans called it dens leonis, the lion’s tooth, because of the jagged shape of its leaves. In French it became dent-de-lion, whence the English name came. Such a picturesque name.

       Who decided they were ‘weeds’? Take a closer look. A clump together is a joy to behold. A relation of the sun flower the dandelion is beautiful, with golden blossoms that can be used as a dye for wool. When young it can be used in salads. Its flowers, roots and leaves have long been recognised for their many medicinal properties. Have you ever tasted dandelion wine? 

       It is an important source of nectar and pollen for the honey bee. Destroy the dandelion and the honey bee suffers. 

       So who has decided some plants are flowers, 

desirable and acceptable whilst others are weeds and not desirable? Is it the same people who decide some humans are undesirables, to be re-located, exiled, starved to death or murdered?

       Many wage war on the dandelion. It is uprooted, thrown out, left to die, or even killed by chemicals – weed genocide. Perhaps, just perhaps, there will one day be tolerance both for ‘undesirable’ flowers and for ‘undesirable people’.

   Dandelions Image from FreeBigPictures 

Mary Irvine's Blog: Booked! The Grand Finale
Mary Irvine's blog: Booked! Festival 2016 – Des Dillon at Dalmuir Library

This section: Mary Irvine: Writer and Philhellene

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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