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Daniel Gray on why Aye Write! is a must

From across the road, the roof dome seems to exclaim as if it has had an idea. The traffic lights finally change their mind and it is time to cross. After the motorway, the Mitchell Library. Heave a door heavier than a comic sigh and hope the security guard doesn’t spot how out of breath you are. Step onto floors and stairs of marble and parquet underlining walls so ornate you wouldn’t ever dare swear among them, and you have arrived. Or, perhaps you find yourself traversing Glasgow’s grid in fits and starts, bound for this festival’s fellow venues: the Promised Land steps and wise chambers of the Concert Hall, the advent calendar windows and dreaming spaces of the CCA.

These are places of worship, worship of words, lines, and paragraphs, of spines, backboards and ISBNs. Books are here for everyone, and they are here to be laughed with, cried over, disputed and celebrated. In each building and each grand room the currency is democratic: ideas, which belong to all. More than any of that, though, Aye Write! is about enjoyment – personal and communal – and about escape. More than ever do we need that.

This year, I’ll be chairing a number of events, and participating in my own. I don’t think that I am chairing this event too, but have long-coveted the comic possibilities of such a thing, for example asking myself such highbrow literary questions as ‘Is it true that you have seen every episode of Homes Under the Hammer?’ (Answer: No, there are actually over 1,000 episodes of Homes Under the Hammer). 

I will definitely be chairing a different football event to my own, one on the Russian revolution, one on the confessions of an ambulance driver and one on industrial craft. An eclectic mix at an eclectic festival where some events are free, and most will leave you change from a tenner. It is well worth heaving those front doors, climbing those steps…

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