Sunday, 15 March 2009

Alexander McCall Smith

I saw an interesting interview this morning with Andrew McCall Smith, the author of the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. What an interesting character he is. For years he was a professor of medical law, he lives in Edinburgh and he’s the author of over sixty books.

The conversation naturally turned to his most popular books about Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s finest and only female detective. He was asked why they are so popular when there’s never even a murder in them. He laughed and said that nothing really happens in them because there’s enough happening in the rest of the world. The books are really about people, what motivates them and how they behave. I thought that was a perfect description of them.

What I didn’t know about him was he founded The Really Terrible Orchestra in Edinburgh. An orchestra composed of people who wanted to play in a real orchestra but weren’t good enough. He said they are terrible players but really enjoy themselves and people strangely enough want to come to hear them play. “They come expecting something to go wrong and we never disappoint!” They played at the end of the interview and he was right, they are terrible but what a delightful character he is. For anyone in New York, USA, the orchestra is performing there in April 2009. Go if you dare!

Funnily enough I had watched the first film about the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency again last night! What a beautiful film it is. It was directed by Anthony Minghella with delightful background music, beautiful Botswana scenery and wildlife, wonderful actors portraying the characters and the gentle humour and stories about people. It's a far cry from the usual films about Africa and detective stories with as many murders, shootings and car chases as they can cram in!

Precious is such a delightful character, a “traditionally built” Botswanan lady, with a beautiful smile, she’s warm, witty and has an inbuilt intuition about people. The other characters are cleverly drawn too. It’s no wonder these books are so popular across the world.

I must get to the library, his new book in this series, Teatime for the Traditionally built has been published. Love that title. He also has a book from the 44 Scotland Street series published too, The Unbearable Lightness of Scones. I think this man likes his food!

The new series of six episodes of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency started tonight on BBC1. We enjoyed two hours of wonderful TV with not a murder or an advert in sight. First there was Larkrise to Candleford and then the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

Sheer bliss!