No, this is not about paid companionship - nor about bribing people to join one's personal sycophantic entourage!
Yesterday evening I paid £15 to become a Friend of the Appledore Book Festival for the rest of 2014.
My motive was this. The Festival is being held from Saturday 27 September to Sunday 5 October, and I plan to be on holiday in North Devon throughout. The tickets for the many events go on sale to the public in July. Those for the most popular events - with nationally-known names speaking - sell out very quickly. If you are a Friend, however, you get a chance to book before the public at large can, and therefore you should be able to secure a ticket for every event you particularly wish to attend. £15 for that privilege did not seem too much.
I missed last year's Festival, but went to the one held in 2012. It happened to be a year of very wet weather in the South-West, and there hadn't been much in the way of pre-bookings, so I was lucky and could still pick up some good tickets locally at the start of the Festival. In fact I attended five events, two of which stood out. One was an entertaining/serious talk by Martin Bell (former war reporter, former independent MP, now author and lecturer) with whom I had a few words (and was able to take a picture of) - see my post Meeting Martin Bell on 2 October 2012. The other event was a one-day workshop on writing women's fiction, which was a personal test of how I might survive a close-knit and lively women's discussion group for a morning and afternoon, some of whom were already published authors - see Inspired by fifteen women at a workshop on 3 October 2012.
This year, if I can afford it, I intend to invest about £100-£150 on selected events. That money should buy me at least one event to attend every day, with a couple of blockbusters thrown in. The Appledore festival has not yet become elitist and expensive.
Another all-day workshop would be brilliant. But I would stress that even the minor events are good, and there are other pleasures too. The town is quaint and pretty and maritime, and is throughout the year an acknowledged centre for pubbing, local arts, live music, and historical goings-on. But during Festival-time it really comes alive. The Festival organisers put on an awful lot, and have to press all kinds of halls and hotels and other spaces into service, as there is no single very large community centre. So throughout the day you will see festival-goers rushing to and fro in a high good humour to attend the next event. And you get to recognise the same people, you quip and chat with them, and look forward eagerly to your next encounter. The atmosphere is so friendly. The volunteers who direct you here and there also get to know your face, and by the end of the Festival they may actually know your name. This happened to me - see Andrea and Lorraine on 27 September 2013.
As you can see, I am very enthusiastic about the Appledore Book Festival, and regard it as one of this year's unmissable events. What an excuse - as if one were needed - to visit North Devon, one of my favourite destinations. I am in fact going there very shortly, of course, as part of my springtime caravan getaway. But the forthcoming week there will be much more of a laid-back sightseeing, beach-walking, and exploring-the-country-lanes type of holiday; and in no way a strain on the brain, nor my people-skills!