Julian Flanagan logo

Ian Rankin, My Perfect Weekend, The Daily Telegraph

“That is the thing about writers. We often have boring existences because we’ve got all our thrills inside our heads.”

“Most weekends, Miranda and I are stuck in Edinburgh, partly because our youngest son, Kit, is disabled.  I say stuck, it’s a nice place to be stuck, and any perfect weekend would involve a trip to the pub, on Friday night.

On Saturdays we try and get out for breakfast.  There is a really good café just up the road or there is a Borders on the outskirts.  It’s got a lift up to a Starbucks, so I can be sitting up there, drinking coffee and reading the paper with Kit, while our other son Jack and my wife are downstairs buying books and magazines and CDs and DVDs.  It’s the most expensive cup of coffee in Edinburgh.

Every second Saturday Kit goes to this thing called Riding for the Disabled.  Kit has Angelman Syndrome and it just slows everything down.  He is 11 but he doesn’t talk, he can’t walk and has seizures. At first he just flopped and his face went down on the mane. But now he sits up, he’s paying attention and he loves it.

By the time you have got Kit ready and taken him riding you are knackered, so in the afternoons you tend to just chill out.  Jack and a mate sometimes go to the gym. So one of us is taking Jack then the other is with Kit.

We’ve got a hot tub in the back garden. We bought it to help Kit’s therapy and it’s got its own sound system.  And if Kit is in the hot tub with me, it’s classical music that will be on.  I’ve got this theory classical music calms Kit down.  And there is a trampoline next to the hot tub, so he has a bounce, which he loves, then we get him into the hot tub.

Saturday evenings can depend on whether we can get a babysitter, one who knows what to do in an emergency, like if Kit has a seizure.  Miranda and I don’t like the same movies.  She likes ballet and I don’t. So we tend to go to nice restaurants.

There’s a couple of local ones we go to.  There’s Howies, which is very cheap and nice, very Scottish.  And another very French one, which reminds us of the meals we used to eat when we lived in South West France.

If I’m writing a novel I desperately try and do some work every day, otherwise I start to forget what’s going to happen.  Usually on a Saturday or Sunday it’s late at night, two or three hours if it’s going well.

I’ll stick the music on and disappear into this other world.  It has to be instrumental. A little bit of jazz. Miles Davis. Bert Jansch. There is a loud fast Scottish band called Mogwai and sometimes, if I am doing a pacy chase scene, I’ll put them on. That is the thing about writers.  We often have really boring  existences because we’ve got all our thrills inside our heads.

On a Sunday, I need to read the papers before anything else. Depending what’s on the front of the paper, I’ll buy it: if there’s an interview with someone I’m interested in, if there’s a free CD.  I’m a bit of a whore.

Little trips are always a possibility on Sunday. Edinburgh is blessed by all these places around the outskirts. We’ll go to North Berwick which has a beach and waterfront but also a bird centre, so you get binoculars and watch the birdlife.  You can go into Gullane, have a wander round.

And there are nice walks around where we are.  The canal is lovely and that is only five minutes away.  There is another great walk in Morningside, called The Hermitage.  It used to be a privately owned house on a big estate.  A little stream runs through it and it goes for miles and it really is wild.  You can clamber up hillsides.  No coffee shop though, that’s the only downside.

And we go up Arthur’s Seat.  If you go round the far side from us, there is a really nice Loch, Duddingston Loch, where you feed the swans and the ducks and geese.  We take a bag of old bread and wheel Kit down the waterside and if you scatter the bread around him, all the birds come up to him, which is great, he loves it.”

19 November 2005

Powered by Netfirms