Festival review: Borders Book Festival, Melrose

Crime writer Val McDermid PIC: KT Bruce

Somehow I never imagined that I would find myself singing the praises of Ed Ballsbut anyone whose daughter asks him, as an 18th birthday present, to put together a recipe book of all the family meal recipes he’s cooked, is clearly a good egg.

Even when he won a TV home cooking competition, he kept quiet about it. Why? “Because it’s his thing.”

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Add the way he talked about what his wife Yvette Cooper would do as Home Secretary to moral principles without even mentioning who’s doing the job right now, and it’s triply classy.

Ed Balls

In this respect, it fit perfectly into the Harmony House program. Melrose has seen a flood of national treasures before, but on Saturday it turned into a flood.

It all started with Alexander McCall Smith wondering, with his fictional alter ego Isobel Dalhousie, if it was possible to be too good, but before you knew it, Val McDermid was talking about why she gave up journalism for the books, Andrew Marr explained why he didn’t, Julian Clary talked about living in Noel Coward’s money house and the dogs and sex in his life, and Joanna Lumley called us “darlings” and ” my kind people” and told us how “heavenly” the queen was. is.

Then, to top it off, speaking into a Jack Dee tent who claimed to be “the one the Border Patrol uses to cover up their crime scenes….first time this was outside of Galashiels”, there was a truly legendary version of I’m Sorry, I Have No Buccleuch, featuring Rory Bremner, Miles Jupp, Tony Hawks and Pippa Evans in a perfect mirror of Radio 4 panel play, complete with swanee whistles, massaged kazoos and Colin Sell on piano in an hour-long taste of comedy heaven. Happiness.

Julien Claire

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