“Charabia intellectuel” – mum
“This is very bad research” – friend/colleague
“I don’t know what’s real and what’s not any more” – writer/bloke at the pub
“I’ve seen it all now” – security guard
“A heavily ironic framework” – publishing consultant
“Now I understand a whole bunch of your stuff was related and not random” – colleague
“It’s about ferries, isn’t it?” – colleague
In May 2016, we attended a book festival in the far north-west of Scotland. To travel to Ullapool from Scotland’s urban central belt is a journey of several hours through dramatic mountainous landscape, culminating at the tourist centre and port town (population c1500). Ullapool’s book festival is volunteer-run, prides itself on its conviviality, small scale, and quality offering, and partners with the two independent bookshops in the town. We attended several sessions with well-known and emerging Scottish writers (as well as a couple of Canadians), met speakers and festival organisers, and socialised with them after events. We saw the ferry coming into the port and going out again. Things got on the ferry. Things got off. We went on a boat trip.
For two researchers of book cultures, that weekend was a rich autoethnographic experience, and as we drove away from the festival we decided we’d like to write about it.
But we had a predicament.