Tag Archives: Swindon Festival of Literature

Who’s Telling Me What? – All the action from the Festival Finale

14 May

Our extraordinary night kicked off with a crescendo. Dancing out from the wings, with high verbal drop-kicks and punchy music, the Tongue Fu Band lit the gig, lit the Swindon Festival of Literature Finale. I hadn’t noticed him last night at the Think Slam, yet Fu frontman Chris Redmond, must have heard my Think Slam three minutes as he threw out at us “There is only here. There is only now” Continue reading

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“H” Reveals All About “M” – Henry Hemming at Central Library

14 May

Henry-Hemming

Since I do not want to have to shoot you all, I cannot tell you what was said by “H” about “M”. Renowned writer Henry Hemming, hereinafter referred to as “H”, uncovered, first Head of MI5, Maxwell Knight, hereinafter referred to as “M”.

Which is a shame as an eager crowd, who were, during the secret talks, checked out themselves as to whether they were good enough liars to be spy material, they will say to a man, and this secret talk was (hand covering this reviewer’s mouth) largely about women spies, the crowd will say “Ummm it was ‘interesting’. Goodness is that the time? Sorry I have to go.” Continue reading

Story time with Elli Woollard and the under fives at Swindon LitFest

12 May

Elli Woollard reads The Dragon and the Nibblesome Knight

Squeezed between art history with Philip Hook and civil war history with John Rees on Tuesday, and philosophy with Roman Krznaric that evening, by Thursday morning there was every chance that my stretched brain was going to burst with new information and deep thinking.

So I took the chance to hang out with my intellectual equals – a bunch of under-fives – for story time at the Richard Jefferies Museum with children’s author Elli Woollard. Continue reading

And now on Radio LitFest…

10 May

Philip Hook and John Rees © Calyx Picture AgencyBeing a regular attendee of the Swindon Festival of Literature can sometimes be like being an avid radio listener. Most of the time, you know what you want to hear – whether that’s the Today programme or Top 40 Singles Chart. But sometimes, something just catches your ear while you’re scrolling along the dial.

And that was what Tuesday night was like for me – tuning in to an unexpected but enjoyable two hours of art, history, and politics. Continue reading

Swindon LitFest crowd gets a peek into Churchill’s Cabinet room… and Lord David Owen’s mind

6 May
Lord David Owen © Calyx Picture Agency

Lord Owen, photo (c) Calyx Picture Agency

Over the past few years, the Swindon Festival of Literature has coincided with an important political event of one kind or another, and there’s always a political heavyweight on hand with whom to discuss the big issues of the day.

In 2015, we commiserated with Alan Johnson, whose Labour Party had lost the general election in the same week that his beloved Queens Park Rangers were relegated.

In 2016, Ken Livingstone provided some post-Corbyn, pre-Brexit insight, flying the (red) flag for backing Remain in the referendum. And there was a message of foreboding from Sir Vince Cable, who warned that older voters might drive an exit from the European Union, at the expense of the young.

Friday evening’s hour with Lord David Owen came the day after the Conservatives did very well in the Shire Hall elections – at the expense of Labour and especially of UKIP, who seem to have disappeared from the political agenda altogether – and just over a month before the nation heads to the polls for its second general election in as many years.

Continue reading

From cuneiform to graffiti – Swindon Festival of Literature has all writing bases covered

16 Mar

As Swindon Festival of Literature inches towards its quarter century, different methods of written communication – from the oldest to the very recent – will be celebrated this year.

Unveiling the 2017 programme at Swindon Library today (Thursday, March 16) festival director Matt Holland mused on how the way we use writing to communicate our thoughts is changing.

“In a digital world where the currency of topical commentary can be successfully and powerfully compressed into 140 characters – definitely a great method of instant communication – the book is still doing remarkably well,” he said. Continue reading

From Spain to Swindon via Stockholm and Saskatchewan: protest and love are the themes of Festival Finale

19 May

At around the same time that a protest song by the Ukrainian singer Jamala was winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm on Saturday night, the Spanish duo La Heidi Bèlika were performing their own protest song on the stage of Swindon Town Hall. Continue reading