Julian Hall's Festival Diary

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Richard Dawkins of The God Delusion was led by his Book Festival chair, Paula Kirkby, to pontificate on the possibility of life on other planets.

Before Dawkins launched into the complexities of multiverses and such like, he said that he thought that science-fiction writers were often unimaginative about how they portrayed their extraterrestrial beings. "When I was seven I wrote a science-fiction story called 'Bobo Goes to the Moon', about a dog," admits Dawkins. "Even then I knew that it would be too much to hope that the aliens would speak English – so I made them speak French instead."

Edinburgh-born comedian Wendy Wason has caught the public eye thanks to her glamorous promotional image, which depicts her as Audrey Hepburn in the classic Breakfast at Tiffany's pose. On her way in to The Gilded Balloon, the venue for her show, Wason was handed her own flyer by a fresh-faced youth. The young man wouldn't believe that Wason was the woman in the picture – until she showed him her credit card as proof.

In another outbreak of cheekiness, the comedian Rhod Gilbert has been touted a ticket for his own show. "Some bloke approached me outside my venue and said he wanted £20 for it, which is £8 above the going rate," says Gilbert. "I offered him three quid for a laugh and the cheeky sod accepted."

In response to the demands of concert-goers, EIF bosses have come up with a festival first: hostess trolleys in the auditorium will sell not only the traditional ice creams, but wine, Pimm's and gin and tonics, too. Culture with a twist of lime.