Archive by Author

Hi diddly dee – a single life for me

15 May Catherine Grey (right) photo © Fernando Bagué

Hi diddly dee – a single life for me

Catherine Gray – on the unexpected joys of being single!

This one had me at the strapline. I’ll expand. Following a longish (16 yrs) marriage, a follow-on semi-detached relationship of a similar length and a small number of dalliances, I’m now contentedly single and absolutely not looking. But it’s taken me time to get to this stage. When my marriage ended, I so wanted to be a couple again. Then I slowly realised that I didn’t want marriage/co-habitation so much as a person. And now? I have no real interest in any of it. That said, were a gentleman caller with a healthy bank balance, a generous nature and a weak heart to rock up … that might be a nice thing. But it really doesn’t matter if he doesn’t. I’ve got Netflix! It’s a lot less bother I can tell you.

So! I related to much of what self-confessed love addict Catherine said in conversation with her interviewer on stage at the Swindon Arts Centre. Having already given up the demon drink and written about it in the Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, she decided to tackle her addiction to the love drug and set out to stay single for a year. The notes she made during her non-dating sojourn formed the basis of the new book. Continue reading

Monogamy is dead: long live monogamy!

15 May Rosie Wilby, photo © Fernando Bagué

Rosie Wilby on monogamy or not,or what’s best for life today.

Yes readers, I have been transfixed by Netflix’s The Crown and ITV’s Victoria. Gloriana!

Aside from the fact that thinking of royalty provides a pleasing titular pun, the latter marriage at least was one utterly unsullied by rumours of liaison dangereuse. Theirs was a monogamous relationship that remained so until the end, with Albert’s untimely early death. They managed twenty-one years and there’s no evidence to suggest that anything would have changed had Albert not shuffled off this mortal coil when he did.

Which brings me to the thrust – if you’ll pardon the expression – of Rosie Wilby’s set at the Spring Festival around her book Is Monogamy dead? I use the term set because Rosie’s entertaining appearance was, in part, a talk and, in part, a stand-up gig. A TIG perhaps? Continue reading

Swindon should get knitted

17 May
Charles Landry

Charles Landry

Swindon should get knitted. It’s a sentiment that Swindon’s Stitch N Bitch ladies would no doubt agree with.  Charles Landry, author of The Civic City in a Nomadic World,didn’t exactly say that of course. But he did say, when asked his feelings on Swindon, that it is:

  1. The most difficult place to navigate he’s come across and
  2. It somehow doesn’t feel quite knitted together – that it lacks cohesion.

I reckon he’s got a point.  #SwindonIsAwesome – lots of fabulous things and fabulous people. But I can see what he meant. Continue reading

John Tusa makes a noise – but softly

12 May
photo pf Fernando Bagué

John Tusa ©Fernando Bagué

It’s a funny old thing. For someone with a memoir entitled Making a Noise, its author, John Tusa, did anything but in delivering his lunchtime talk at Swindon’s Arts Centre. Which is not to say he whispered – that’s not what I mean at all. What I mean is that he had a considered, measured and calm method of delivery. Nothing frenetic here.

The subheading of Making a Noise, ‘Getting it right, getting it wrong, in life, the arts and broadcasting’ attracted me. Who hasn’t done and who isn’t still doing that? Well, the getting it right and wrong part at least. Continue reading

Mark Lawson: allegedly

4 May
Mark Lawson

Mark Lawson ©Calyx Picture Agency

Mark Lawson: it could all be made up and still be true.

The words above are not mine but are taken from the entry in the literature festival brochure in respect of Mark Lawson’s talk last night at Swindon Arts Centre. When I saw them there on the page two words popped into my head: ‘fake news’. I wasn’t the only one to have that train of thought clearly because in the question session someone raised that very thing.

One has to wonder if, in the new order from across the pond of ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’, the phrase ‘trumped-up charges’ doesn’t take on a whole new meaning?

So, The Allegations. A semi-autobiographical contemporary novel, set in a fictitious Midlands university, that explores the scenario of having ‘historic’* allegations made against you, and how you get through it and what it does to you.

And if the description ‘semi-autobiographical’ is too strong the novel is most certainly influenced by Lawson’s own experience. He recently stepped down from his long-running hosting role of BBC Radio 4’s culture show, Front Row, amid claims of bullying. Continue reading

So it IS all my mother’s fault!

4 May

I knew it! It IS all my mother’s fault! Or so the psychologist Oliver James would have us believe. Vindication is mine. *Evil Cackle*

In his poem This Be The Verse Philip Larkin famously said:

   ‘They f**k you up, your mum and dad.

    They may not mean to, but they do …. But they were f**ked up in their turn

    By fools in old-style hats and coats,…’
A sentiment not lost on psychologist Oliver James, Indeed not only is it not lost on him he’s channelled Larkin’s observation into his books They **** You Up and Not in Your Genes – the real reasons children are like their parents.

Continue reading

Is there life in the old dog yet?

10 May
D J Taylor

D J Taylor (left) with Matt Holland ©Calyx Picture Agency

10th May 2016

DJ Taylor – on the life of Literature in Britain – The Prose Factory

 The purpose of this chronicle is not to offer up a review of D J Taylor’s latest tome The Prose Factory – a 200,000-word examination of the life of literature in England. Bigger and better folk than I have already opined on its success, or otherwise, of achieving its objectives. But, as Taylor’s entertaining and humour-injected talk today was centred around it, we should look at it.

Looking at The Guardian’s review from earlier this year, I was drawn to their comment that “Taylor is firmly on the side of ‘ordinary readers, always on the look out for ‘snootiness’.” I like that because I consider myself to be an ‘ordinary reader’. Continue reading