Try your hand at craft

Discover your tal­ents at a se­ries of work­shops at Snape Mal­timgs

EADT Suffolk - - Inside -

HE’S on our screens these days as the rov­ing re­porter on BBC’s The One Show. But he’s fa­mil­iar to a gen­er­a­tion for his eclectic taste in mu­sic. He was Billy Bragg’s roadie and driver, worked for the Rolling Stones, and cham­pi­oned world mu­sic in his weekly ra­dio shows from the 1980s for 25 years. He pre­sented the iconic Old Grey Whis­tle Test and Live Aid. And he worked for 10 years as a for­eign cor­re­spon­dent on Ra­dio Four, cov­er­ing sto­ries of cri­sis, cor­rup­tion and tragedy in many of the world’s most dan­ger­ous and trou­bled lo­ca­tions. Now Andy Ker­shaw is gain­ing another rep­u­ta­tion al­to­gether.

“I’m called the Bruce Spring­steen of lit­er­a­ture fes­ti­vals,” he says re­mem­ber­ing how he first re­ceived the la­bel after an event in Le­ices­ter­shire, step­ping off the stage, with the or­gan­iser’s hand on his shoul­der. “I thought he was re­fer­ring to the huge dis­tances I’d trav­elled. But no, it was be­cause I’d been up there for two-and-three-quar­ter hours.”

The Bruce Spring­steen – or, in­deed, the Ken Dodd – of lit­er­a­ture fes­ti­vals will be in Suf­folk this month, the guest of Alde­burgh Book­shop. He’s pre­sent­ing The Ad­ven­tures of Andy Ker­shaw, a one-man show re­count­ing his ca­reer, pas­sions and ex­pe­ri­ences as re­lated in his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, No Off Switch, which was pub­lished six years ago. His pub­lish­ers then en­cour­aged him to give the usual one-hour on­stage in­ter­view about his book but he found he was took a dif­fer­ent ap­proach.

“I was out of my seat, pac­ing back­wards and for­wards across the front of the stage, telling a story, and my in­ter­roga­tor hadn’t got a word in for about 45 min­utes.” With a slide show of the many fas­ci­nat­ing mu­si­cians he’s met, and the chal­leng­ing lo­ca­tions he’s vis­ited, and clips from tracks which have been sig­nif­i­cant to him over the years, Andy re­alised he had a multi-me­dia pre­sen­ta­tion to com­ple­ment his anec­dotes. He tries to keep it to two hours.

“It’s very dif­fi­cult to know what to leave out,” he says of this sprint through his 30-year ca­reer. “If I don’t talk about pre­sent­ing Live Aid – my very first out­side broad­cast in front of more than a bil­lion view­ers – or the 12

years I spent shar­ing a tiny, cramped, chaotic of­fice with John Peel, or if I don’t talk about re­port­ing on the Rwan­dan geno­cide, peo­ple are go­ing to ask why? So I have to cover a lot. But no one has ever walked out and no one has ever fallen asleep as far as I’ve been able to tell.” He’s straight-talk­ing in that dis­tinc­tive, grav­elly Lan­cashire ac­cent, with a wry hu­mour. It’s clear he’s very driven - he’s achieved an as­ton­ish amount in a widerang­ing ca­reer. The ti­tle of his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy gives a clue as to how he has man­aged it – Not Much Down­time – but what mo­ti­vates him?

“The short an­swer is nosi­ness. Some­thing might spark my cu­rios­ity about a part of the world, whether some­thing hap­pened in the news or it had as­ton­ish­ing mu­sic, and I’d think I ought to go and see whether there’s more.

“Or some­times I’d think why have we never heard any mu­sic from Equa­to­rial Guinea, say, or Haiti. So I’d bet­ter go and have a look.”

While he’s prob­a­bly best known for his taste and pas­sion for mu­sic, Andy says his first love has al­ways been re­port­ing, and he first started writ­ing for the lo­cal news­pa­per when he was 15.

“I’d love to do more of the for­eign stuff,” he says. “Be­ing a for­eign cor­re­spon­dent is ro­man­tic even if you are in some ghastly hell hole.” The more dan­ger­ous and ex­treme, the bet­ter, it seems. He re­ported from Iraq, Sierra Leone, An­gola, North Korea, Kuwait and Haiti. For the mo­ment, his com­mit­ment to The One Show and his ap­pear­ances at mu­sic and lit­er­a­ture fes­ti­vals dur­ing the sum­mer means that he is un­able to get on a plane and dis­ap­pear for three weeks. “I shouldn’t moan,” he says. “It’s bet­ter than hav­ing a proper job.”

So, how do peo­ple re­spond at the end of a two-hour per­for­mance of Andy Ker­shaw? “Per­haps the most com­mon re­sponse is that they say ‘thanks for all the mu­sic’. If peo­ple are go­ing to come along for an evening with me, they’re go­ing to be kin­dred spir­its aren’t they?”

“Be­ing a for­eign cor­re­spon­dent is ro­man­tic even if you are in some ghastly hell hole”

The Ad­ven­tures of Andy Ker­shaw, 5.30pm on Sun­day March 4, Ju­bilee Hall, Alde­burgh, a spe­cial fea­ture in the pro­gramme for this year’s Alde­burgh Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val. Tick­ets are £14. Call 01728 452587

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