Sunday, 10 March 2013

Literati in the Lake District

The Theatre by the Lake, Keswick
Derwent Water from just outside the Theatre

a local resident
Derwent Water from Friars Crag
Words by the Water finishes tomorrow. It has been a busy 10 days.

Some very well-known people have been wandering around the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, Cumbria. My husband chaired talks by Jeremy Bowen and Matthew Parris, among others. There was a time when I went back to the dressing room to change and found Tracey Chevalier drinking tea and preparing to talk about her latest book, 'The Last Runaway'. Phyllida Law had people wondering whether to laugh or cry about her mother's dementia. And Alexander McCall Smith had everyone in stitches about many things, including the Ladies No 1 Opera House outside Gabarone in Botswana, that seats all of 52 people. I lunched with Melvyn Bragg and Cate Haste, his wife, and compared notes about walks in the area with Lindsey Hilsum. Many more household names were there, too, but name-dropping is pointless unless you have spicy little stories to tell about each one. And I was far too starry eyed to gather gossip.

I was also quite busy. I chaired four talks myself. This involves reading the featured book, introducing the author with a short biography, and having some questions ready in case the audience are so shocked, bemused or dozy that they have nothing to ask at the appointed time. (No one ever needs these fallback questions - the audience in Keswick is always alert, astute, and sharp as The Needle.) 

'My' authors were Sarah Wise (Inconvenient People), Mike Berners Lee (How Bad are Bananas? - the carbon footprint of everything), Harriet Sergeant (Among the Hoods - my years with a teenage gang), and Gerard Lemos (The End of the Chinese Dream). 
So, in spite of almost no fiction on offer, and almost no mention of International Women's Day on Friday, I've had a stimulating and invigorating time.

But it is clear that we must all join lobbying groups to (among other things) prevent media company monopolies, improve the care services in the UK, oust the criminal bankers, and cut the carbon emissions of the human race - especially this last. There's a book about it called 'The Burning Question: We can't burn half the world's oil, coal and gas' coming out next month. I've ordered a copy. Frightening stuff.

Last day of the festival tomorrow - then on to the 4th draft of my latest Reader for CUP... After two gorgeous weeks, the weather's awful again, so staying indoors won't be a problem.

No comments:

Post a Comment