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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dan Cruickshank, Edinburgh Book Festival 18 August

Dan Cruickshank is best known as a TV presenter of programmes about architecture. He is immensely enthusiastic, waves his arms a lot, and comes across as a kind of architectural Patrick Moore. (My wife described his speaking style as "like Rob's but with even more hand-waving". Hmmm.) Certainly the attempt by his interviewer at the Book Festival to corral him into a one-hour slot by any means other than simply shutting him off after 55 minutes and asking for a couple of questions was doomed to failure. Dan wa delighted that his talk was beng signed for the deaf, and said he would try to use long and interesting words so we could all watch the signer. In the event the only ones I remember are the signs for "igloo" and "yurt".

Anyway...he was talking about his book (and TV series) Adventures in Architecture. he had slides, and much (much!) anecdote to accompany the various types of buildings he was enthusing about, which in the time available came down to igloos, Yemeni mud-brick skyscrapers and a Mumbai shanty town. It's a long time since I saw someone so totally intent on sharing a passion for something non-political.

An amusing igloo anecdote: he went to a town in Greenland to find someone who could build an igloo (which were only ever hunting shelters so nowadays not in great demand). The houses in the town all appeared remarkably similar apart from colour, and this turned out to be because they had all come from IKEA flat-packs.

If you ever have the chance to see him, either live or on television, do take it. A national treasure.

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