TALKS LOUIS DE BERNIERES Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh, Fri 23 Jan

‘lt’s like being Bob Dylan and everyone wanting you to play ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ all the time.’ Ten year’s on Louis de Bernieres’ novel Captain Core/Ii’s Mandolin remains an (albeit Ioveable) albatross round his neck. ‘The book’s made a tremendous difference to my life,’ he says. ‘I can actually afford to live now, which is good. It’s annoying sometimes but I just finished another novel so hopefully the attention will shift.’

The new work has a working title Birds Without Wings. ‘Some people don’t like it as a title,’ he says. ‘They say it creates a horrid mental image.’

But what’s getting bookish circles excited at the moment is the author’s impending trip to Edinburgh to kick off the Scottish Poetry Library’s 20th anniversary celebrations. What makes an established author want to select and showcase other writers’ works? Is he a closet poetry connoisseur?

Before he can answer, Porthos, De Bernieres’ cat (named after the plump and jolly musketeer) interrupts proceedings. ‘Sorry, I’m being spiked by the cat - it’s very

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Don’t call me Bob

painful. He’s not very clever but he’s quite nice.’ Porthos appeased, De Bernieres explains the trip: ‘Essentially, I’m a poetry lover, so it’s a nice thing for me to do. | just thought who would I like to listen to? I thought I’d like to hear TS Elliot and, it may be corny, but I’d like to hear Dylan Thomas. Besides, I love visiting Edinburgh; it’s a beautiful city. I never turn down an invitation to come.’

But De Bernieres isn’t inclined to write any of his own poetry. ‘I used to write a lot of poetry, but I had more of an impulse when l was younger. I don’t get the same moments of passion and commitment now.’

So what makes him passionate, and what excites him about the capital? De Bernieres laughs. ‘There’s a great tool shop called Murray’s Tools; I always visit because I’m interested in DIY. I just want to go there and slather all over the stock. Not a very writerly thing to do, I know.’ And as tourist landmarks go, De Bernieres’ choices are happily left of centre. ‘Last time I visited I went to look at the mental institution that Wilfred Owen and Siegred Owen were locked up in.’

Louis de Bernieres checking out power tools and war poets history? A sensitive DIY man for a new age.

(Anna Millar)

Become the next Courtney Pine

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OK. so they've caught Saddam. Or should I say. someone he knew grassed him up for the reward and the Americans took the credit. Anyway. the main man has been caught but the weapons of mass destruction still seem to be missing. The threat of chemical and nuclear weapons (and these include our own rather impressive collection) remains and is up for debate at a public CND meeting. Entitled 'The abolition of nuclear weapons: possible. practical. essential', the agenda will include the need for a nuclear weapon- free world and how this can be achieved.

With George Bush getting the go ahead for the biggest revitalisation of the US' nuclear weapons programme since the end of the Cold War. Russia deploying six more nuclear missiles. China significantly increasing its nuclear arsenal and the UK considering replacing Trident after the general election. it is a very worrying time. On this note. Bruce Kent, president of Abolition 2000 UK. chairperson of the Culture of Peace Committee and War on Want. and former general secretary and chairperson of CND. will be talking at the meeting and giving his views on the need and ways to abolish these weapons.

(Jane Hamilton)

I Lecture Theatre M007, George Muir Building. Caledonian University, Cowcaddens Road. 423 7222. 7.30pm. Free. Tue 27 Jan.