Authors debate what makes Fife, Fife at Big Tent

Ian Rankin
Ian Rankin

WHAT characteristics are shared by a Kelty clippie and someone from Pittenweem?

Does it really tak a lang spoon tae sup wi’ us?

The question of defining Fife - what makes Fife Fife? - will be debated with vigour and humour at Big Tent this weekend, and it’s open to all to have their say.

Best-selling authors Ian Rankin and Aileen Paterson will join renowned broadcaster, Lesley Riddoch, trying to define the Kingdom’s essence - and what makes it different from the rest of Scotland.

The Sunday debate promises to be both ‘inquisitive and entertaining’ - and also one of the highlights of the 2012 festival.

It will look at why Fife leaves its mark on people who live, work and breathe its air.

Is it the humour of Fifers ... or is it their history?

Or is it the landscape or something about Fife’s culture?

Ian Rankin said: ‘The fact that it is almost an island, that it calls itself a kingdom, that it’s shaped like a terrier’s head, that it contains cute fishing villages and rough-hewn mining towns, that it has four league football teams, that way back in the mists of time it was known as Fib, which also means a ‘lie’ or ‘story’, that it has an ancient university and modern seats of learning too, that it has brought forth many and various creative talents, that it still feels like home to me more than 30 years after I left.’’

In the lead-up to the debate, another of Fife’s finest, author Val McDermid, has offered her thoughts on how you define Fife, and Fifers.

She said: ‘I’ve always thought Fife’s motto should be, “I kent her faither.”

‘‘It sums us up so perfectly. On the one hand, don’t get above yourself. On the other hand, anybody can rise to the top. Politically and socially, Fifers have always been a race apart.

‘‘I’m proud to come from the Kingdom where the speugs fly backwards to keep the stour oot of their e’en.’

Organisers hope the talk - one of a number to feature renowned speakers and authorities on a range of issues - will capture the imagination of festival goers.

Ninian Stuart, co-founder of the Centre for Stewardship at Falkland, the organisation behind Big Tent said: “It’s fantastic that people of the calibre of Ian and Aileen have agreed to help us to probe into the nature and culture of Fife.

‘‘ The ‘What makes Fife Fife?’ question could be asked of any region in Scotland as it is always enlightening when local folk speak about their home town, area or landscape.

‘‘For me, one of Fife’s defining qualities is its great diversity. I keep discovering hidden places and characteristics and I wonder what, if any, characterestics are shared by a Keltie clippie and a Pittenweemer?’’

Aileen Paterson, Burntisland-born author of the ‘Maisie’ books, said: “I know Fife really well because as a child and a teenager I cycled all of it with my father.

‘‘Where it is and having a kind of miniature landscape is what makes Fife special to me.”

>> Join the debate:
What makes Fife Fife at Big Tent on 1.00 p.m. on Sunday

>> Have your say here:

What do think?

e-mail or comment online at