The more observant amongst you will realise that September has ‘disappeared’ despite my last (rather mundane) post – Also, that I am late with this post as it is nearly the end of November (whoops, just turned December) … and now we are approaching the end of 2019! So much for my ‘best intentions’ of keeping a regular blog on-line. I can manage to keep a multiple page spreadsheet daily, but the idea of having anything interesting to write about each day just escapes me.
Well first, looking back on it I can’t really remember much interesting happening in September – yes, we did visit my parents in France and it was pleasant, but I can’t really remember much else about it. The weather must have been quite sunny, because I have lots of photos from Kevin of outdoor plants and butterflies, insects etc. – I think my summary of September will be just a few of the photos.
AT LAST … THE CHELTENHAM LITERATURE FESTIVAL:
And so we started on Friday, 04 October … fairly gently at first with just 3 events covering “Out of the Woods” (how nature can affect mood/mental health) to “Dark Side of the Mind” and ending with a discussion about “Stories of Statelessness” … so gradually easing ourselves into it, because we knew the following day was going to be all out politics – so either really depressing or possibly enlightening! Our day started early (for us) – midday, with the edifying prospect of a discussion entitled “Populism: The Death of Democracy”, which was surprisingly not too ‘heavy’ and much more interesting than at first feared. We then had a more entertaining discussion with James O’Brien and his views and experience of the bizarre twist of events in the previous 12 months. Then we headed to “The Election Generals”, which elicited (as expected) quite a divisive but interesting discussion. Finally, just to ensure that we should try and consider recent events in light of the past, our last event was called “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. I have to admit that having been somewhat concerned by the ‘serious’ nature of our second day, it really wasn’t that bad at all and provided plenty of issues to think about. Because of my fairly pessimistic view of how Saturday was going to turn out, we had deliberately picked a much lighter program for the Sunday, which started with “Who’s Next for the White House” – very enlightening if not a little scary! Then we continued with a discussion called “Life Off-Grid” – lovely idea, but not very practical for me with medical condition + wheelchair. Our day ended with a very pleasant discussion about Tove Jansson (most famous for her Moomin series) with her niece Sophia Jansson about Tove’s life, loves and island refuge.
Now I am honestly having to look back at my on-line calendar for October to remind myself about the various events that we attended, so apart from those that have ‘stuck in my mind’, I think it only fair that I merely relate the number and titles of the events that we attended. On Monday, 07 October, we started off all ‘arty’ with an event entitled “Ways of looking at contemporary art” (I can’t really remember much except that some items I could appreciate the artistic merit and some I just didn’t ‘get’ at all!) Our next event was entitled “Life on the NHS Frontline”, where the panelists were an ex-nurse and an ex-junior doctor both of whom held their own extremely well and really didn’t need any chairperson / facilitator. Now our final event that day was GREAT! It had been placed in far too small a venue, which was packed and everyone enjoyed it – it makes such a difference, when the main speaker is professional and practised – both of which characteristics were true of Dom Joly. The talk was entitled “The Hezbollah Hiking Club”, which obviously was the title of his latest book (now one of the items on my Christmas list from Kevin’s parents). The talk was interesting, funny and the host kept everything moving along smoothly. As I’ve said it was GREAT!
Looking at my on-line calendar, the next day (Tuesday, 08 October) was a really mixed bag and although I remember that everything was really interesting, that’s about it. Our day started with an event entitled “We Need to Talk about Putin”, the next event was entitled “In the shadow of Vesuvius: A Life Of Pliny“, which was fascinating at the time but I can’t really remember any of the important details. And we finished off with an event entitled “Science(ish): Hollywood Wants To Kill You“, which I think (from memory) was understandably weird. On Wednesday (09 October) we only had two events neither of which I can remember in detail, but I am sure that they were both entertaining. Anyway, the titles of the events were “The Knife’s Edge” and “The Art Of Trees“. Thursday, 10 October started with the delivery of our new two seater sofa and matching two chairs in the morning, before we immediately set off for the Literature festival and again the first two items I will just list the titles, because I cannot really remember much detail – “1919–2019: The Irish Century“, “Lucian Freud“. We finished the evening with a highly entertaining discussion with Louis Theroux, which we learnt had SOLD OUT within about the first 3 – 5 minutes of going on sale. As members of the Cheltenham Festivals get a few days head start when booking, this probably meant that the entire audience were members of the Festivals! On Friday, 11 October we saw the following events, which were all good but again I cannot really remember the discussions and so the titles will have to do – “The Best And Worst British Prime Minister?“, “NATO At 70” and “Melanie Reid: The World I Fell Out Of“.
Now as I hope that you can appreciate, we were starting to ‘run out of steam’ and although we had booked for 3 events on the Saturday (12 October) we bowed out of all but the first event– “The Times Debate: Is the Party Over?” with ex-Conservative MP Rory Stewart (now standing as an Independent in the contest for the Mayor of London) and Labour MP Jess Phillips, which ended up as the only event we attended as Kevin was beginning to come down with a cold. The discussion was very civilised and particularly enlightening regarding the resources required to run as an Independent and the restrictions on taking such action and leaving an established political party where you don’t necessarily agree with the leadership, but require the backup of the party structure because of financial responsibilities and the fact that that you feel a better chance of reforming the party from within rather than from the outside. In retrospect, I found this position comforting when facing the reality of “Tactical Voting” in the GE that was announced in November.
So yes, the Cheltenham Literature Festival was a mixture of fun, weird stuff and lots of Politics! As this post has taken so long to compose, I think that I will leave the turmoil of the end of 2019 until my next post – which I will try to do before the New Year!