LOUISE MINCHIN

The Ch­ester-based BBC pre­sen­ter is brought to book and finds she loves the at­mos­phere of lit­er­ary fes­ti­vals Cheshire Life: Novem­ber 2018

Cheshire Life - - Chat -

Iloved read­ing last month’s Cheshire Life ar­ti­cle about the lit­er­ary fes­ti­vals that are tak­ing place over the next few months and I am a bit em­bar­rassed to ad­mit that I ar­rived very late at the lit­er­a­ture fes­ti­val party. I don’t know quite how I have missed out on such a bril­liant cul­tural phe­nom­e­non.

The first time I went to one was about this time last year, and it was a pretty daunt­ing in­tro­duc­tion. I had been asked by Ch­ester Sto­ry­house to in­ter­view former Prime Min­is­ter Gor­don Brown about his book, My Life, Our Times. Se­cu­rity was tight, the au­di­to­rium was packed and we were both a lit­tle ner­vous as we waited back stage.

My most use­ful con­tri­bu­tion at the start was to help him sort out his mi­cro­phone which had fallen off, so the au­di­ence could ac­tu­ally hear his in­sights and anec­dotes about life be­fore and af­ter Num­ber Ten. When I opened ques­tions to the floor, un­sur­pris­ingly there were plenty and he an­swered as many as he could in the time avail­able. For me, that is one of the most in­spir­ing things about lit­er­ary fes­ti­vals, the fact that any­one can ask any ques­tion they want. The ac­cess is in­cred­i­ble.

As he signed books for dozens of peo­ple who queued ami­ably around the en­trance hall I was struck by what a unique op­por­tu­nity lit­er­a­ture fes­ti­vals of­fer for any­one who wants to see their favourite au­thor, writer, co­me­dian, jour­nal­ist etc, up close and per­sonal and talk­ing about their spe­cial­ist sub­ject.

Since that first foray, I have been fully im­mersed in the fun of fes­ti­vals. I am no lit­er­ary gi­ant but I have been trav­el­ling up and down the UK talk­ing about the book I wrote last year, Dare to Tri. It has been a won­der­ful jour­ney. I started in Ch­ester, where I was be­sieged by open-wa­ter swim­mers, had a scrump­tious cream tea in the tiny pic­turesque fish­ing vil­lage of Ap­ple­dore in Devon, braved the in­tim­i­dat­ing home of The Bard him­self, Strat­ford-upon-avon, and joined in the elec­tri­fy­ing Ed­in­burgh Fes­ti­val. I have loved ev­ery minute, and have been struck by the cal­i­bre of writ­ing roy­alty that turn up (my­self ex­cluded), and that ev­ery event has its own spe­cial at­mos­phere.

I am sad to say that af­ter im­mi­nent vis­its to Sh­effield and Rochdale, my own year of the fes­ti­val is about to come to a close, but now I know what I have been miss­ing out on, I will con­tinue go­ing like ev­ery­one else, as a mem­ber of the au­di­ence.

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