Friday, 7 October 2011

Cheltenham Festival of Literature

The Festival - it starts today - has taken a giant leap forward: not only Imperial Gardens, but Montpellier Gardens too has this year become a tented city for the duration. Indeed, the construction process began weeks ago, causing noise and traffic sufficient to upset everyone within a wide radius no doubt. Pity those who have hired the Gardens Gallery during those weeks! Indeed, the Gallery isn't even marked on the Festival map!

My lack of sympathy for the scale of this hyper-festival has been made plain in previous years: expansion into Montpellier runs parallel with withdrawal from the Everyman Theatre and the Parabola Arts Centre. What will hostelries and shops near those two sites make of the non-passing trade? This morning, I toured the campuses on my bike: the only people I saw around were yellow-coated security guards and minions from sponsors such as The Times and Sky. Coming away, I saw an elderly gentleman emerge from a car and fiddle with his pipe: Tony Benn it was, taller than I expected. (Though he didn't refuse to have his photograph taken, he seemed a little taken aback with the speed at which I produced my camera.)

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