Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Montpellier wasteland

Nine days after the end of our ten-day Festival of Literature, this is what Montpellier Gardens looked like at lunchtime. Still, there were people at work from the marquee hire firm - but who's going to restore the messed up park, and how soon?

I'm all in favour of the Festival, but would propose that it concentrates its tents upon Imperial Square, and uses other venues such as the Everyman, the Parabola and the Playhouse - instead of ruining both of our major gardens for what is surely a disproportionate part of the year. I may be repeating myself (as well as the view of others), but it seems to me to be a no-brainer. At present the tail is wagging the dog.

Nor is our gargantuan event pleasing to all the publishers who come. I was chatting with a representative of one well-known international firm on Saturday last: "How does Cheltenham rate amongst all the literary festivals you must go to?" I asked. "It's too commercial, too impersonal," she replied, without missing a beat.

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