Last week, I gave some background detail as to how my partner and I first came to attend the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival back in 2017. If you missed it, click here.
Part two follows on from last week. I hinted that there was a little bit of drama meaning we missed the first event we’d booked. You see, we’d decided to have a leisurely drive up to Harrogate. But it wasn’t the relaxing drive we’d anticipated. Normal Friday afternoon traffic, coupled with it being the first day of the school holidays, meant we’d needed to leave earlier, a fact we soon discovered once we were underway.
After being stuck in traffic we decided to stop off for a break at some services. As we were walking in, I noticed a wallet lying on the ground in the carpark. We took it inside and tried to find someone to hand it into, but there didn’t seem anyone obvious. So we quickly flicked through the wallet to try and find a phone number to see if we could call the owner. Nothing. But there was a driver’s licence and address so we decided we’d post it. Whether it was because we were on our way to a crime festival, or I had some sixth sense (I think it was probably just a coincidence), I decided to do a bit of digging; I was going to find a phone number for the owner if it was the last thing I did (well, not really, but it sounds more exciting). I looked through the wallet again and pulled out a receipt for some furniture. There was the owner’s name and address once again – and a phone number! So my partner rang him and back he instantly turned to claim his wallet. We knew waiting for him to make it back to the services would make us even later for the festival, but we knew how important it was to get the wallet back to its owner; we knew how we’d feel in his shoes.
So half-an-hour later, we were on our way again. The traffic cleared a little and the second half of our journey wasn’t so congested.
Once we’d arrived and parked up, we made our way to the beer tent (greeting it like an old friend) and looked around for anyone we knew. We couldn’t see anyone familiar and decided to head into the hotel itself and grab a sandwich. We’d just sat down, when one of our friends, Jill Doyle, and her husband, Vince, joined us. Jill had been to several talks already and was just about to head off to a live podcast on Agatha Christie. It sounded intriguing and when she offered me a spare ticket, and my partner urged me to take it, I jumped at the chance. The podcast centred around three crime writers, known as the Crime Girl Gang who examine mysterious cold cases and then try and ‘solve’ them from a fictional perspective. I’d always been an Agatha Christie fan and read all her books when I was in my teens. Though I hadn’t been aware that she’d been the subject of a mystery herself when she went missing for a few days and turned up in The Old Swan Hotel itself, exactly where the Crime Writing Festival was taking place! So it proved an entertaining start to my festival journey, with various ideas about what really happened bandied about.
After the podcast, we didn’t have any more sessions booked until the evening when we were going to the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers gig, featuring authors Stewart Neville, Chris Brookmyre, Val McDermid, Doug Johnstone, Mark Billingham and Lucas Veste. They’d played at Glastonbury a few weeks before and we couldn’t wait to hear them.
In the meantime, we spent the time with friends, old and new, including David Evans, Tony Millington, Rachel Dove, Harlan Coben (well, he did say hello to me and ask me how I was!), before heading for our hotel to check in, have a bit of a rest and grab a bite to eat.
Then it was time to head back and to enjoy the gig. We actually missed the first fifteen minutes (there’s a bit of a recurring pattern here…); this time it was down to us meeting and chatting to a lovely author, Barbara Copperthwaite, who’d we’d previously met at another literary festival. When we made it to the gig, we had a fantastic time and it’s something we’d definitely go to again. It was loud, fun and where else would you see First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, pulled on stage to dance and sing along to Sympathy for the Devil?
And that was day one over. We were only meant be coming back for one more day, but things turned out a little differently…