Saturday, 18 July 2009

Dartington Literature Festival

Coming to the end of a week spent at Dartington, soaking up a real cocktail of talks and book reviews. My highlights of the festival were A C Grayling for erudition and a distinguished head of grey hair; James Lovelock for looking like my father - and for the twinkle in his eye when he talked about his many opponents; Michael Buerk for a wicked, non-PC view of the world, with which all his audience empathised; and Ben Crystal for showing us Shakespeare and the Iambic Pentameter in a totally different light.

However, for me the most memorable session was with two newly published authors: Edward Hogan and Anna Richards. Ed has recently won the Desmond Elliott prize for his first novel Blackmoor and Anna was long-listed for the same prize for her first novel, Little Gods. They each read a short piece from their books and talked about the long journey to first publication (best part of 10 years in both cases). Their humility, humour and willingness to offer advice to other aspiring novellists was a breathe of fresh air.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Best Job In The World

Sitting at my desk yesterday with doors wide open to let in the sun. Bees buzzed around the oregano patch and hover flies hovered in the fennel. Massive dragon fly dwarfed the damsel flies and butterflies abounded. A beatiful bull-finch graced my bird feeder for ages, distracting me from the text of 'Sunshine and Sausages' (which is nearly complete). The stream played a very gentle melody in the background - but had just enough water to stop the ducks grazing their bums on the floor. Tennis match commentary ran quietly at my shoulder.

And the guy on the Pacific island thinks he's got the best job in the world?