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If Music Be The Food Of Love...Play On

27/08/2015 17:03 BST | Updated 26/08/2016 10:59 BST

We all have our own personal terrors. Often it's the unexpected that hits you when you're least expecting it. For Edwyn Collins, the singer and co-founder of band Orange Juice, it was suffering a debilitating stroke ten years ago.

His life has totally changed, but of course, that is also true for his partner Grace. Her life wasn't a bad dream she would eventually wake up from. It was a new shared reality.

But it is the story of their love that underpins their shared recovery which they expressed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival yesterday. Hosted by author Ian Rankin, Edwyn had us roaring with laughter as he and Grace shared anecdotes with fans old and new.

They met in London when a mutual friend asked Grace to put Edwyn and a friend up. They were doing the rounds trying to push their music - the BBC's John Peel was rather uncertain about Orange Juice, having been told "The music you're playing is shite, you should be playing this."

"Funny story," says Edwyn, "I fancied Grace." He asked her to be his manager. She thought, "This is no way to pick a manager. But self-employment is rather appealing." She recalled that when she was heavily pregnant with their son she would still drive his tour bus and unload it.

"I repeat, I'm sorry about that," laughs Edwyn.

The force that is Grace Maxwell talks to us honestly about the journey being hard but we see and hear her indomitable strength through her humour.

There are bad days yes, but mostly Edwyn insists he has been lucky - above all because he can do what he loves - sing and perform.

Edwyn, who was initially left paralysed down one side and unable to speak, underwent an extensive rehabilitation programme. Within three years he was back performing again, Grace never far from his side. Since his illness the singer has released three albums, the most recent, Understated, in 2013.

Grace observed how distressed he was when his friend Grant McLennan, of Australian group the Go-Betweens, died suddenly a year after he had his stroke.

She said: "Their careers were side-by-side, and when Grant died, Edwyn was really devastated and he said 'isn't it so arbitrary, I'm here, and Grant's not any more', and the simple idea of being glad to be alive has walked alongside him in the past 10 years. It's for nobody else to decide why a person is glad to be alive, it's for nobody else to figure that out except the person themselves."

She added that the onset of social media had helped him talk directly to fans around the world: "It's been a great thing for him. He is waiting to talk to people at any time of the day or night. He loves that people can contact him and he has this interaction with the world."

To the delight of the audience Edwyn announced he would be recording a brand new album at a recording studio he is creating at his Helmsdale home in the Highlands.

We then see the pair in perfect tandem as he forms chords with his left hand while Grace strums the strings, a performance which makes the couple absolutely magnetic. They play Searching for the Truth, which was recorded after his ill health, followed by his biggest solo hit A Girl Like You.

There is a sense of closeness and being bound together, which we can only admire from the outside, like we are looking at a club we long to be part of.

Theirs is a touching story with indisputable dignity and respect. They certainly deserve ours.