John Gibson: Peter Kerr, big pal of the Poles

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“Paper Never Dies.” That’s the admirable motto of Poland’s Big Book Festival where Peter Kerr, back from Warsaw, was one of the 90 guests.

The only Brit invited, he couldn’t have got lost in the crowd. The Poles, he insists, are super-efficient at this sort of thing.

“I was touting my own books, of course, but certainly it was a privilege to be asked back this year. I wholeheartedly empathise with the Festival’s motto.

“It started at 10am on Saturday and finished at 11am next day, so there’s work to do, hard-selling my own wares. Nobody hangs about.

“They’ve got some adventurous ideas, for example taking authors out of familiar pigeonholes and presenting them on the same bill, so to speak. Some 50 events at 32 venues including hotels, shops, buses, cinemas, hairdressers.

“The Poles are convinced books in their current format have a bright future. The motto underlines their faith in books and the power of paper. I left Warsaw spiritually uplifted, I must say.”

Say what you like, Pete, this is supposed to be a free country. His latest literary work is Song of the Eight Winds and he’s busy on a racy recollection of his years as a professional jazz musician.

Signor service

Still the tittle-tattle of the avenues and alleyways of Queensferry Street, the fate of the thoroughfare’s best-known ristorante. Its owner Mario Cugini is still tight-lipped over as to who’ll taking over the up-for-grabs Bar Roma.

The exit date for Mario is still August 31 and in the latest call-over the front-runners are still JD Wetherspoon. Go on, Signor Cugini . . . surprise us!