The Diary: Edinburgh Book Festival; Royal Air Force; Tim Vine; Goldie

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The Independent Culture

Freedom to move

Edinburgh Book Festival has had its fair share of (gentrified) drama over the past days. Last weekend, the American author David Shields seemed to offend several members of the audience who had turned up to listen to his ideas on the future of the novel, and who walked out in the middle of his talk. He suggested that most novels published today tended to tell stories in the same old antiquated third-person narrative of 19th-century novelists, and he rounded on Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, due to be released next month. The walk-outs followed the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz's talk the previous day (in which he was arguing that the fiscal deficits that led to the 2008 economic collapse were underpinned by moral deficits), in which four protesters from the Climate Camp stormed into his event to protest against RBS. In the genial spirit of the book festival, they actually asked the event's chair, Ruth Wishart, if they could protest. When she declined, they politely left! Yet more drama came in the form of Robert Winston, who was was so enamoured with the Festival's rubber ducks (swimming in a bowl in the press office) that he helped himself to give one to his grandson!

Military music with lofty ambitions

The Royal Air Force is attempting to infiltrate the UK pop charts with the aim of getting their official album of the Battle of Britain to No 1. The Central Band of the RAF, who have signed a music contract, have produced an album, Reach for the Skies, which includes a new version of Churchill's iconic "Never in the field of human conflict" speech to the House of Commons during the battle. His rousing words have apparently been put to rousing music. Reach for the Skies will be released this autumn to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the 90th anniversary of the band.

Short and sweet

The best bit of TV I saw this week was when Tim Vine, who was recently voted as having told the best joke at this year's Edinburgh Fringe, was being interviewed by the BBC's Emily Maitlis about his achievement. He mischievously turned around and lifted up the studio's Edinburgh cityscape backdrop to expose another, "night-time" view. Maitlis laughed nervously as he reassured viewers: "I am in Edinburgh, but Edinburgh does not look enough like Edinburgh so you have a picture of Edinburgh." Prior to his prank, Vine said he would not have chosen his winning joke ("I've just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. I'll tell you what, never again") as the funniest in his show. Instead, he offered: "I went to Sooty's barbecue. I had a Sweep steak." Unfortunately, it was met with silence.

Goldie fired up by Kane and Lynch 2

Just when we thought Goldie, the DJ and drum'n'bass pioneer, had shaken off his hard-man image (he showed his softer side on Maestro, the classical music TV show) we discover he has been working with a trained marksman in Surrey to create a piece of artwork incorporating live ammunition to create a live ammo billboard, to launch of the new computer game – Kane and Lynch 2. To watch Goldie create the billboard go to

Nude awakening

It is normally the outrageous antics one sees on stage, not off it, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that cause the raising of eyebrows. However, this week, a couple of audience members decided to sit through Alexis Dubus's show, Nudity, in the nude. The Scottish naturists apparently asked managers at the venue, The Tron, if they could strip off to watch the performance, which they proceeded to do after getting the nod. Dubus's act, which begins with a different guest performer from the Fringe posing as a nude life model, is a comedic exploration of what lies beneath our clothes, and it has been hailed by critics as being in surprisingly good taste. It's nice to see festival-goers getting into the spirit of the shows they go to see.