I paid a return visit to Crucible 2 yesterday morning, with Caroline and a friend who has come to stay from London for a couple of days. Through her eyes, we saw Gloucester Cathedral afresh, a glorious backdrop in the sunshine and a safe haven when it was pouring with rain: April seems to have come again.
In the afternoon, we went to a rather ponderous discussion about Bretton Woods and the EU ("not just about the price of fish... It's like riding a bike, you have to keep moving forward"). Two separate books being plugged, both authors afraid to disagree with one another.
The later session was an improvement: "Artists - can they change the world?" Answer: yes provided they move on from the merely passive aggressive. "Climate change," exclaimed the passionate Heather Ackroyd: "How can anyone be making art about anything else?"
This morning, we struck luckier still, with the session on King Lear. Michael Pennington has recently returned from New York after playing the part off Broadway. A questioner wondered if it wasn't a depressing experience, with no redemption or hope for the future. "No, you play the blues and feel better," he said. Inevitably he stole the show, but the two academics were an excellent foil, and all benefitted from the best chairing I've come across yet this year.
Finally today, Crispin Tickell chatted - superficially, I concluded - to James Lovelock about his new book. I thought the title given us by the person making the introductions was "A rough ride to the future". Having heard Lovelock speak before, it sounded appropriate, but in fact it's "guide" not "ride".