The Edinburgh International Book Festival, where I’m currently plying my “trade” chairing assorted events, had what its current director described as a hand grenade thrown into its venue before it even got seriously under way.

Environmental activist in chief, Greta Thunberg, pulled out, citing her unhappiness at sponsor Baillie Gifford’s links to the fossil fuel industry.

Cue much virtual signalling from more than four dozen authors and chairs, suggesting that if the festival didn’t divest this particular sponsorship, they might boycott next year’s event.

All of which seemed to be a fairly classic case of turkeys queuing up to vote for Christmas.

The brutal fact of the matter is that the burgeoning roster of book festivals in Scotland – a hugely welcome development – just couldn’t have happened without the backing of business, as well as grant bearing bodies like Creative Scotland.

Our own wee local book festival in Cove and Kilcreggan benefits from the support of a number of local business concerns in addition to its core grant, and I doubt our treasurer has ever felt inclined to check out their ethical credentials.

Though, as it happens, Baillie Gifford has a relatively small investment in fossil fuel industries compared with most concerns - around 2 per cent, against the industry average of 11 per cent, a fact they pointed out in a measured response to the boycott threat.

Meanwhile the EIBF itself carefully walked across a tightrope endeavouring to indicate its understanding of writers’ concerns whilst pointing out the many years of investment in the event celebrating their work by loyal supporters such as Baillie Gifford.

It’s both legitimate and healthy for book festivals to debate current controversies. It’s one of the many things they do well, in addition to letting authors and their public meet and chat.

Since writing at that level is largely a solitary business, it also gives novelists, biographers etc a chance to meet and chat with folks in the same line of work.

So, for what it’s worth, I think the would be boycotters would be better engaged in honest debate and discussion rather than threatening to bite the hands who do so much to keep the publishing industry alive and fed.