New haircut. Come and chat if you see me about at StAnza next week. From Thursday, I’ll be at everything I can get myself into, but there does come a time when you begin to suffer from poetry overload. Plus, now that StAnza has established itself as the place to be in March, there are obviously going to be times when you just want to take a break and talk to people. The Byre is a lovely central place to meet, with lots of seating, a good cafe and very helpful staff – if you are at a loose end, you’ll almost always find someone you know. And there are lots of places to have a coffee or a meal, so I won’t advertise (apart from the Tail End which has the most wonderful fish suppers you are ever likely to see in your life). And being as St Andrews is what it is, you can get your head around a takeaway menu that includes scallops, sea bass and smoked salmon. I always do the haddock, and it’s one of the best things I eat all week.
And then there’s the bookshops. Not just Waterstones and the official bookshop, JG Innes, who have all the books featured in the Festival, and where you will see the awesome spectacle of poetry collections actually sold out, but the relative newcomers Toppings (very well-stocked, and lovely staff), the very classy second hand shop Bouquiniste, and a lot of charity shops which have a much wider selection than the average. And the poet’s market where you can get books and magazines you’d otherwise have to buy on-line, and meet the poets and publishers. As you walk around you’ll find that several of the shops have got involved, and you’ll see poetry displays in the windows, too.
And there’s the sea. I have usually found the StAnza weekend to be cold, windy and often raining heavily, but the sea is always lovely.