Under the Rainbow at the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival
My day at the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival began with John Gray on ‘The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Enquiry into Human Freedom.
- Can knowledge set us free?
- Will we ever understand ourselves well enough to design a better version?
- Do we really want to be free?
There weren’t a lot of answers but I did come away with a list of authors who might help with my research: Philip K. Dick, Theodore Powys, Gertrude Bell, Michel de Montaigne might help me see life a little more clearly which might mean less disturbed by the beliefs of the world around me.
I’m all for a closer examination of beliefs, their nature, their shifting sandiness and our unwitting of living as if they were true and this was a thoroughly enjoyable stroll in that direction.
What a life and what wonderful work Judith Kerr continues to create. 92 years old and as entertaining, gently profound
and moving as ever, Judith Kerr is an absolute delight.
I read ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ to children at school, to my own children, and now to my grandchildren and it has an irrepressible charm. Who knew that the illustrations include two versions of the father? I must go back and have another look.
And then, of course, there was ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ and now we have ‘Mister Cleghorn’s Seal’ based on her father’s real experience of saving the life a seal pup and taking it home to his flat to live on the balcony.
I hope I can be so irrepressible, good humoured and lively when I’m 92.
“Can you remember a time before you could read?
Hilary Mantel’s Life in Books conversation picked up a thread touched upon by Judith Kerr who questioned the content of the Janet and John books she encountered in school. Whether it was Janet and John, “John has two caps.”; Nip and Fluff “Nip is a dog. I see a dog.”; or Peter and Jane, it seems wonderful that we ever saw the point in learning to read unless, like Hilary Mantel, you managed to discover a world of books actually worth reading.
Amid this fascinating conversation books and authors tumbled like a glorious domino rally with one book prompting another until my notebook was almost full. ‘Kidnapped’ clearly deserves revisiting as I had completely failed to notice the perfection in its form. Oliver Sacks, Beryl Bainbridge, and Ivy Compton-Burnett are all favourites of my own who were highly commended while I admit my ignorance re Molly Keane, Sybille Bedford and Alison Lurie.
I’ve added them all to my ‘must read’ list, and I still haven’t finished reading “John Aubrey – My Own Life” by Ruth Scurr so I’m ill-prepared for tomorrow!