Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Meeting Martin Bell

The weather down in North Devon has turned wet and windy, but I am not in the least dismayed, because at Appledore, that quaint seafaring town just north of Bideford, a Book Festival is going on. There are book-orientated events every day, all through the day and into the evening, at various venues around the town. This afternoon I bought tickets for five of them:

Monday 1st October at 8.00pm: Martin Bell about the revised edition of his book 'In Harm's Way' and the ongoing consequences of the Balkan conflict.

Tuesday 2nd October at 2.00pm: Elizabeth Buchan about her book 'Daughters',exploring the mother-daughter and mother- stepdaughter relationships.

Wednesday 3rd October from 10.30am to 4.00pm: Veronica Henry leading a Women's Commercial Fiction Workshop.

Thursday 4th October at 11.00am: Professor Helen Taylor on how and why do women read books, exploring women's special relationship to reading, and how, for many women, it is a lifeline.

Thursday 4th October at 6.00pm: Lesley-Ann Jones about her books 'Freddie Mercury: The Definitive Biography' and 'Ride A White Swan: The Lives and Death of Marc Bolan'.

Martin Bell is of course the war reporter turned Independent Member of Parliament, the 'Man in the White Suit'. I saw him tonight. So did a lot of other people. He not only spoke of how the Balkan Conflict of the 1990s came to be, but how it has had ongoing effects on other wars; how it was the last war to be reported in the old way, by correspondents in flack jackets at the front line, as opposed to people tethered to a satellite dish; and how younger politicians from Tony Blair onwards have lacked combat experience, and have therefore had a false belief in the effectiveness of overwhelming military force. He also gave us some racy anedotes and some amusing poetry somewhat in the style of Ogden Nash. Altogether an entertaining hour with very serious underpinnings. As he came away from the podium I had a few words with him and he let me take a close-up shot:

He also signed a copy of his book for me: 'To Lucy Melford from Martin Bell'. I was thrilled!

I'm now especially looking forward to the workshop on Wednesday. When I booked my ticket, I learned that thirteen other people were going to be there, presumably all women. I'm interested in the possibility of writing in ways other than just my blog. I may actually cite my blog as part of my writing credentials. 715-odd posts in three and a half years, and maybe 450,000 words (I must work out exactly how many!), surely indicate a certain love of writing. And with currently 7,000 pageviews a month - even though it's a non-cult blog - I must be getting some aspects of the craft right. I don't at the moment write fiction, nor aim my stuff specifically at women, but I'd certainly like to know more about that type of writing.

It's possibly an unusual way to spend a holiday. But why not? At the very least, I'm meeting real writers, and other experts in fields connected with writing. And making friends with the unpaid ladies and gentlemen who volunteer their time to act as stewards and catering staff and ticket sellers for this Festival.


  1. Does not sound like an unusual way to spend a holiday to me.

    I have always been a little envious of the fluid way that words pour from your fingertips and am sure that you could utilise that talent in different ways. Whatever new outlet, it needs to come from the heart...

  2. Sounds like a good literary festival. You don't fancy Ruth Rendell's talk ? She's written some superb novels, but I gave up on one of her latest, The Vault, which I thought well below her usual standard.
    Or Jeremy Vine ? I sometimes listen to his Radio2 show, though he always sounds a bit 'hyper'.
    Anyway you'll be going to some very interesting events for three consecutive days.
    Glad you're enjoying yourself.
    I'm sure that your talent for writing can be developed further, and utilised in ways other than blogging.

  3. Fluid flow, eh? I'd say verbosity myself!

    Ruth Rendell had done her session before I discovered the Festival was in progress and that I ought to make a few selections. I'm not sure I would have gone to see her.



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