Wow, despite the early rain - what a great day. We had all congregated the previous night for our Launch Party soirée in the beautiful spa at Lakes by YOO. All fully dressed, I must add, no skinny-dipping. Organisers, sponsors and guests mingled with practiced ease, sipping wine and holding off getting too full on canapés until Joanne’s famous delicious honey coated sausages came around.
Saturday morning dawned to an uncharacteristic (of late) grey sky and drizzling rain. The flowers arrived and the lovely ladies who had volunteered to run the café for the day put the kettle on.
I haven’t seen Sandra Howard very much but it is fair to say that I’ve never seen her without a smile, and fittingly, on a grey morning, her winning smile and charm warmed up our audience as she opened the show for us. Covering off modelling in the 60’s (most of us could remember them), Norman Parkinson, cocaine trafficking and dinner with the Kennedys the night before the Cuban Missile Crisis we couldn’t have hoped for a more varied and interesting opener.
A short break for tea and cake (that rhymes – maybe I’ll become a poet and speak next year) Virginia McKenna, interviewed by Tim, was expansive on her acting career and particularly on the subject of her lifelong passion of wildlife conservation and the Born Free Foundation. It would also seem that filming with lions can be dangerous. Who’d have thought it ?
After lunch a sell-out crowd squeezed into the Hall to hear Kate Adie be fascinatingly expansive on her life in journalism, the future of it (- journalism,that is) particularly given today’s 24 hour news environment, and about people who do real dangerous jobs for a living. War reporting doesn’t count as really dangerous, it seems. You can always hide behind a bigger wall further back, she admitted. An excellent talk that lasted over an hour and always enthralling.
The appearance of Frank Field was a great end to a marvellous day.
He’d spent the morning working in his constituency of Birkenhead and then caught two trains to arrive in Swindon by 4.00 pm to come and speak to us. Dedication to the cause and much appreciated indeed.
Funny, illuminating, controversial sometimes, perhaps, and mentioned a couple of Pauline conversions in his politics.
I like Frank Field for his candour and his courage to say what he thinks, but I’ve never heard of this “Pauline”. Whoever she is she’s clearly influential.
Packed away and doors closed we sauntered along to The George, happy for some libation and the ”Ceremony of Fortification by Ale and Wine” – and some cool jazz from Kingslake, Keegan and Gower. A good time was had by all.
If you missed the Festival this time around, never mind, we’re back on the 15th September for another full day event. Before that, we have Baroness Julia Neuberger visiting us for a one-off on the 12th July. More on that later.
The Plug Hole:
Literary Festivals wouldn’t be what they are without book signings and book sellers. It’s “simples” to buy from Amazon, but Amazon don’t attend Literary Festivals. We’re grateful to all our sponsors for helping us make this Festival a success but in this particular Plug Hole we’d like to trumpet the Madhatter Bookshop in Burford. An independent bookseller who is filling this vital Literary Festival role of supplying books and thus, signing opportunities. Please support Madhatter Books, they’re independent, and when all the independents are gone – what will we have left?
….and finally, in this shameless part of the Plug Hole, if your drought-ridden summer seems empty without water and regular Literary Festival updates you could always follow the Single Malt Monkey where you’ll find poetry, book reviews ( my “Caravaggio” is doing well ), music, social comment and occasional humour. Hope to see you over there.