John Gibson: Pawky Scots humour is big in Russia

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It’s not easy, bringing a smile to the faces of folk in what used to be the Soviet Bloc. But Pete Kerr appears to be winning the battle.

The first two in his brisk-selling series of novels set in Majorca – where he “tried his hand” at growing oranges – are being translated into Russian by St Petersburg-based Amphora, a leading publishing house in the former Soviet Union.

Says Kerr, former East Lothian farmer and professional jazz clarinet-blowing bandleader: “Maybe it’s because my books are loaded with escapism, attractive to people emerging from a history of repression. Besides, the pawky Scots sense of humour seems to appeal to them. Common denominators? I don’t get involved in politics.”

Kerr was at one of the Writers at the Fringe sessions at Blackwell’s South Bridge Bookshop last month.

Pillow talk

Perhaps you want to wake up in a city that never sleeps. Anyway, nobody’s business but your own, what goes on in the bedroom. According to one of these surveys, though, the National Sleep Foundation in America has sneaked under the covers and of course it’s a space-filler, welcomed by newspapers with holes to fill.

This one is international in that it ventures into bed spaces in the States, Germany, Canada, Mexico and, yawn, the UK. Talking ages 25 to 55. Only one in ten Brits wear socks in bed. Eight out of ten make the bed every day. Almost half of Americans pray as a prelude to shut-eye.

Your scribe’s nocturnal habits? In the buff, only on midsummer’s day. Marilyn Monroe famously said she wore only Chanel No 5 between the sheets.