Sunday, 12 October 2014

CheltLitFest 2014 Part II

Just the Two of Us

Stole the sub-title from the first of a two volume autub from Sheila Hancock - yes I even remember the early b&w 'Rag Trade' days. She really is a most engaging, humorous and modest person - a Quaker and a pacifist. After being pursued by a number of publishers, in particular Penguin, to try for a novel, seven years in the making, Miss Carters War has appeared. She paid great tribute to the many emerging writers, as capable if not more so than herself, who struggle to get a publishers attention. A thoroughly absorbing session.

On to another thought-provoking session with Alan Johnson, John Cambell, Michael Cockerell and Becky Milligan discussing 'Who was the greatest Prime Minister Britain Never Had?'. It covered the centuries and many famous names. An interesting agreement was to split the time line between pre and post TV media, between the great public speech makers and the sound biters. Those proposed ranged from Fox, Castle, Bevan, Bevin, Hessaltine, Whitelaw, Jenkins, Williams, Healey, Portillo - so many deemed to either be in the right place at the wrong time or the wrong place at the wrong time.

After a short break it was the turn of the Summerfield event and Shami Chakrabarti and her new tome 'On Liberty'. Brilliant presentation, great raconteur and handled the questions effortlessly. She really is one amazing person and, as a nation, we are so lucky to have someone of her talents, insight and campaigning zeal at the forefront of protecting our civil liberties. A succinct point made, that the European Convention on Human Rights that the current Cameron administration is so bent on destroying was originally developed by Churchill and the post war Tories to protect all European citizens, in law, against the onslaught of oppressive dictatorships in the future. Of her new book her 12 yo son was moved to comment "Mummy, this is a very short book with a very big font" - out of the mouths of babes :)

Rounded off with 'Present Tense: Pakistan' was to be with Sunday Times Foreign Correspondent Christina Lamb but she understandably was diverted to the lauriet celebrations for Malala Yousafzai (Christina helped with the book 'I Am Malala'). Her place was ably taken by Prof Ian Talbot of Southampton Uni and a renowned writer on Pakistan.

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