Sunday, 11 October 2009

Cheltenham Festival of Literature

Once more, we are in the thick of the Literary Festival hereabouts. More people than ever have been clogging the Town Hall corridors this weekend. Imperial Gardens is a tented city, on a scale which would amaze the Festival's founders of 1949 - or even those running the 1999 Festival I daresay.

The traditional Friends' stall has now been more or less hijacked by the Festival organisers. I did a stint on it last night. There are the traditional piles of books - mainly poetry - but though commerce was brisk for cards, mugs, tea towels, shopping bags etc., I sold just one book. This says it all to me about the way the Festival has morphed.

1 comment:

Martin Davis said...

Nick Rawlinson writes: "This reminded me of three very happy years I worked there (81-83), when Town Books and Toys in Gloucester were the official booksellers. Very different in those days (better? worse?), the only space we had was by the fountain on the left hand side going in to the Town Hall, very little room really.

Among the writers I met were Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney the year of the Rattle Bag, a signed and dedicated copy of which I was given by someone from Faber and which has since got mislaid or given away or sold or something. I also remember waiting for the Town Hall to open in the company of someone who I'm 99% sure was Malcolm Muggeridge, I think it was Jeremy Tyndall who asked me to look after him. Hospitality was very different in those days, I probably got him a weak coffee or tea or somesuch. I also remember The Last Poets from NYC who gave a reading one night and Messrs Tyndall and Hancox being highly alarmed by the great waves of marijuana smoke that came from the green room!

It's great to see that the festival is still going, although the corporatisation of such events must give one pause for thought. But maybe the alternative is for them not to happen so..."