Monday, 2 February 2009

Fun and Festivals

A week that got off to a glorious start, ended on a rising crescendo of excitement. An evening spent in Dulwich with some friends I’d not seen for many months, to whit a deputy literary editor, a writer for Private Eye currently reading Law and a film maker recently returned from Washington DC where he was starting a documentary on the 1st 100 days of the Obama presidency, became a giggle-fest in which subjects as diverse as the Popham Little Chef - now flying under the Heston Blumenthal banner and thus boasting Michelin stars on the inside and Michelin tyres on the outside – to the credit crunch culling that stalks the newspaper industry were the hot topics. The latter subject proved to be devoid of any humorous potential despite our best efforts. Bless them for dragging me out of Mortlake, or Deathpuddle as I rather meanly call it when the mood takes me, and for treating me to fine food, wine and company.

The next stop on the LibraDoodle agenda was a meeting in the glamorous surroundings of One Alfred Place to discuss the first-ever literary festival in Dubai. The Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature takes place from Thursday the 26th February to Saturday the 28th and promises to be really rather good. It seems that, as the full title of the festival is too long to be comfortably repeated in conversation, the preferred diminutive is a pronunciation of its acronym, EAIFL, or ‘Eiffel’, not the ‘Dubai Festival’ which I blotted my copybook a number of times by mentioning. You may wish to take note.

The organisers have done a sterling job and have attracted a stellar list of authors to appeal to all tastes. I’m looking forward to sharing a stage with Frank McCourt, Paul Torday, Andrei Kurkov, Kate Mosse and Louis de Bernieres, mercifully not all at the same time although the thought is entertaining me. Margaret Atwood, Anne Fine, Anita Nair, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Ran Fiennes and Karin Slaughter will also be there as will others too numerous to mention. The programme is a good blend of western and Arabic authors and it will be fascinating to see how audiences respond. Should you find yourself in the area, I urge you to come along. The sponsor, being an airline, is issuing boarding cards now, so buckle up, stow your tables and settle back for some fascinating flights of fact and fiction.

My appointment with destiny, in the guise of the artistic director interview, draws ever closer and not even the snow will keep me from it. If I have to take to dognapping and sled my way there on a tea-tray, so I will.

Finally, The Lady magazine is currently undergoing something of an update and will soon be hitting your newsstand in its very lovely new form. It is a venerable institution, being England’s oldest magazine for women and in continuous publication since 1865, and I mention it as they have kindly published a couple of pieces of mine, one on the Hay-on-Wye festival and an interview with Germaine Greer. You may wish to take a look.

And there you have it, absentminded scribblings pertaining to books. I do try to do what it says on the title. Sometimes.



No comments: