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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Bits of Hay

At the first of Mariella Frostrup‘s shows in the Sky Arts Studio we found that Ian Rankin had been relegated in favour of Gordon Brown. What a disappointment.

Brown had nothing to say, of course, apart from name-dropping the courageous people he had met. Thomas Keneally, the Australian novelist, was on the same bill, also to promote a book. He was bouncy and smiley and had a learned-off-by-heart script to get him through the ordeal. Two of a kind, you might say.

They were followed by Jason Brown, an Irish comedian who did much shouting, almost as if he didn’t believe in the efficacy of the SkyARTS microphone and state-of-the-art speakers.

And then, as if by magic, after the end of the show they wheeled on Ian Rankin to record his interview for the same show on the following day. So, initial disappointment faded into the background, partially.

Rankin talks well enough, but his persona on television or when speaking publicly is only a pale imitation of what he’s capable of in a one-to-one. He enumerated the ways in which he and Rebus differ. Rebus is old-labour, he reminded us. But he refused to be drawn on his own politics under the pretext that it might get him into trouble. Still, I was grateful to him that day; compared to the others he was a shining star.


We also took in a couple of Spanish writers, Enrique de Heriz and Carmen Posadas, together with a Welshman who was resident in Spain, Aneurin Gareth Thomas. Enrique de Heriz spoke about the split in families during the Spanish civil war. And Posadas, a crime writer, lost most of the audience trying to explain the genesis of her novel. The interviewer obviously didn’t like the novel but was too diplomatic to say so.

It seems that Spanish fiction has finally arrived in the UK. As well as America, especially South America, but also all over Europe.


We haven’t seen the aristocrats at the hotel over the last couple of days. They were last sighted in a chauffeur driven plum-coloured limo leaving the estate and their crippled helicopter behind. Apparently they didn’t pay their bill and Miss Havisham called the Welsh police who are currently on the look-out for them.

We never did get the ride in the helicopter, but that’s the rich for you . . . full of promises but rarely making the effort to deliver.

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