Continuing her mission to experience as wide a range of Festival events as possible, Pheebs travels from broadcasters to novelists to environmentalists.
Sunday was just as great as Saturday, although I got a little bit more of a lie-in as my first event was later in the day. Always a plus.
First event was an interview with the excellent Liza Tarbuck. Radio presenter and now author, the event was, predictably, packed; the venue was the theatre and there were people practically hanging off the balconies above. Moving comfortably through her early family life and career memories that proved amusing and thought-provoking, Liza Tarbuck’s excellent wit and light comments kept the audience jovial and eager for more. When discussing the annual, I An Distracted by Everything, itself, it was clear to see how every piece of it had been carefully constructed to reflect something genuinely important in Tarbuck’s life, and, with the author right there, we were able to hear from her in the flesh exactly how each piece was significant, with a strong theme of the radio running throughout her answers. Fun-filled yet deep in underlying messages, the event reflected the book perfectly.
A pit-stop at Jaffé & Neale’s followed, inevitably, and then came the event ‘Words about Music’. It consisted of an interview of two novelists, Rachel Joyce and Lee Stuart Evans. They were asked about their works, which have a prominent music theme, and about the logistics of representing auditory art in a visual form. This seemed to be pretty darn hard, as could be expected! However, on hearing a couple of passages read out, I observed how the authors described the effect that the music had on those that heard it and the imagery that it conjured up, rather than the music itself. I must admit, this created a much more striking impression than if they had described the notes or melody in themselves, and I thought that the writing styles, although very different from one another, were absolutely terrific. I thought the entire event was terrific in fact.
Being a much shorter day than Saturday meant that I only had one event left (no!!!): ‘Nature Writing’ with Isabella Tree (yay!!!). She gave a talk about her farm, Knepp estate, which is part of a ‘rewilding’ programme. This involves allowing nature to take its course, with roaming herds of wild grazing animals. But there were many more species mentioned, including the endangered turtle doves. A huge range of biodiversity now exists at Knepp, and looking at short videos, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had to agree with Tree when she described it as “a Serengeti in England”, as there were massive wild water features, meadows and woodland under the deceptively plain label of scrubland. It may seem like the fields of Britain today are natural, but Knepp demonstrates a more sustainable way of farming, with (very!) free-range animals for organic meat and the land on a rotating system of rewilding and farming. No fertilisers or pesticides needed. I have been firmly converted to believe that the way Knepp treats Mother Nature could be the future of farming that we need.
All in all, ChipLitFest has been a brilliant success, as ever, with a literary explosion of fizzling authors, glittering books and bejewelled events. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year!