The Edinburgh book festival is full of surprises and none more than the appearance of Irma Kurtz, an agony aunt for the Cosmopolitan in a show event and a book signing on Thursday 14th August 2014.
Irma has during her career, that totals more than forty years, dealt with most problems, that are either intimate or otherwise. That is problems of heartbreak, family and relationships for many generations of readers. At the show her fans both male and female, from Edinburgh and beyond heard her wit and candid answers to questions about her challenging job and Irma’s new book My life in agony.
The event was chaired by Janet Smyth – Programme Director of Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF). Janet said “We start our International Book Festival planning early in October of the previous year, it was then that we had a hicup of excitement when we discovered Irma’s new book, My life in agony, basically her autobiography”
Irma explained that being an agony aunt now is very different than 40 years ago. Young agony as a result of the social media such as Facebook and Twitter, is a new challenge, a challenge that can automate any grief and is faster than letter in its delivery of hurt. Then as when normal emotional issues hit us, it is time for us all to listen to our inner voice and apply common sense and wisdom, that can be difficult. And that is what an agony aunt does, the simple application of common sense, with a smattering of wisdom. For the writer, the process of recording the information for another to read can resolve the issue and/or provide clarity.
In today’s world Irma’s role of Agony Aunt has a new challenge, with letters coming in a new formats such as email and Facebook. Of course there still is the standard letter, that can go on to many pages. The postman straining with the delivery of each heavy bag of agony mail, the letters causing the Postie physical as opposed to emotional stress and pain. Sometimes the writers are looking for a pill, a very special one, the pill to heal the heartache of a woman’s loss or broken heart For men there are Agony Uncles, but they are not so prominent. Men are not always open to making their most intimate of emotions and inner thoughts known. As a result the Agony Uncles tend to move on. Move on to become counsellors.
The packed audience left after a question and answer session and sixty minutes of delightful and amusing information and entertainment with jovial banter
I must say an event well worth seeing.