Tag Archives: Sandi Toksvig

Public Intellectual is not a dirty name – Suzannah Lipscomb at Swindon Festival of Literature

17 May

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Given the reaction of the tabloid and ‘quality’ press front pages during the election, you may be forgiven for thinking that today’s public intellectuals are Katie Hopkins, Jeremy Clarkson and Russell Brand.

Happily, you’d be wrong on two counts and you can argue the toss with me about Russell. The term ‘public intellectuals’ sit uncomfortably with the British public, too self-congratulatory. The French are fine with it. But, boy, do we need them.

According to historian Susannah Lipscomb at the Swindon Festival of Literature last Friday, public intellectuals are the clever people who emerge from quiet libraries; they don’t endlessly research a particular point that only five other people care about.

They arm themselves with encyclopaedic knowledge, for sure, have a long hard rumination about all of it – then they get out there, tell people what they know and have an opinion about it: “They use knowledge and learning to change our shared world,” says Suzannah. Continue reading

Sandi Toksvig at the Swindon Festival of Literature

6 May
Sandi Toksvig with Matt Holland

Sandi Toksvig with Matt Holland

I do love a good book event. The interviewer and interviewee on stage in comfortable chairs, normally with a table between them. Sometimes there are flowers and glasses of water. There’s always a pull-up thing behind them advertising something else. And last night I got the chance to see Sandi Toksvig in action, doing what she does best, talking at a hundred miles an hour on a myriad of subjects from being short to the King of Sweden. Her latest book, Peas and Queues, is about manners and how to behave properly. Apparently, Sandi got the idea from chastising her daughter who was eating with her elbows on the table. Sandi told her to get her elbows off, her daughter asked her why. She had no idea why. The book topic suits Sandi with her clipped, upper-class accent; I expect her to be a font of all knowledge onthings like this. Her accent tells me so. Continue reading