Yesterday, I spent the day at the Independent‘s Bath Lit Fest – and a wonderful day it was too. I cycled there wearing a simple white knit, jacket and cat eye sunglasses, sans coat. The weather – as I am sure you’re aware – was filled with warmth as well as sunshine, the repercussions of which manifested themselves in jolly moods and skipping steps. The city is a beautiful place when it blooms, the gardens are filled and the water sparkles in the afternoon lazy light.
1. Diane Atkinson – Suffragettes
So, it was with positivity that I went to the Suffragettes talk, with my friend – who incidentally had studied the courageous plight of women at the beginning of the last century, for her dissertation, years ago. I have often considered my lack of knowledge on this subject something to rectify, and told myself that I must educate on the history of females, the/ OUR right to vote and the social and political background surrounding the Suffragettes.
My history lessons were very focused on the Industrial Revolution; furlongs, trains, canals and people leaving the sticks, in favour of the great, big city. I wish I had known more about the sexual discrimination, real fight and dedication women were involved in, from a younger age. I know I take for granted, the equality I absolutely deem correct, and always have. I know that sexism is still rife and hate being belittled for being a ‘girl’ myself – which is surprisingly often. I despise it- and I find it astonishing that people can be so narrow minded as to judge a person on their gender and physical appearance. But of course, it’s been going on forever and just because Caitlin Moran et al have made feminism something modern and ‘real’ for the younger generation – it’s still a great big nag on our pay, rights and treatment – and my friend and I were still two of the youngest people there.
We should be celebrating these women! I am so proud to be a woman and I consider myself to be intelligent, thoughtful, caring and someone who loves and appreciates others. I, by no means think that I am above or below another person, but I am living my life as I am happy and I respect myself and others. This is essential, and this is why we all deserve to be treated the same – respect is huge. I left the talk with an increased respect for the Suffragettes and a renewed vigour, focused around what we can achieve, each of us
2. A.L. Kennedy – Author
Talk two was by author, A.L. Kennedy, whose book, Original Bliss, I studied when I was at university – again, years ago. Kennedy is a very interesting writer and speaker. She is humourous and self deprecating. Completely likeable and unfathomably similar to my old tutor. Old tutor did say she knew her, as I pitched my dissertation to her all those years ago. Something which became instantly feasible when I saw and heard Kennedy. Anyway, her new book ‘Blue Book’ is about the murky world of fortune telling/tellers. It’s also about a million other things; relationships of course, boats and fate. Read more about the book, here. The hardback is attractively purple, and looks like a magic book itself, something Kennedy desired.
I found I wanted to hold onto everything Kennedy was saying on stage. After starting the talk with anecdotes about her own experiences with mediums – going in as a ‘real’ punter, Derren Brown, and a medium that uses disco lights when contacting dead relatives – she read out an extract, then answered questions. As a word lover myself, I found her words captivating. I quote (not to the exact word – I never completed shorthand): To enjoy what you’re doing: to find and capture with words, everything that you love, desire and can see – and to make money out of it, well that can’t be bad can it?
There were also some other bits about being truthful when you write, something I feel very strongly about. Being genuine is the most important thing you can do when creating. As someone pointed out, with her characters, whole webs of life and plot lines, she is a true magician, herself. The whole thing was fascinating and I urge people to watch an author speak about their craft.
3. Lynne Truss – Writer
Finally, a show I was very excited about. And it was a show really, as it felt very polished, slick – and let’s fact it, authors are celebrities in many ways. Something that was confirmed to me when I met Lynne Truss at the end of her show and was nearly completely muted by her author credentials. ‘Please sign it to Helen, thankssomuch’. Obviously, there was a huge amount I wanted to say, ‘I’m an Editor and I have my own magazine, I love punctuation, but I’m still a bit unsure at times – do you ever experience times when you completely forget how to use the apostrophe? How do you feel about emoticons? I am slowly learning to bash down awe struck behaviour. I’m getting there.
I digress. Back to the show. Truss is a natural speaker: funny, approachable and very interesting. Punctuation was chuckled at, pedantic actions roared at, and the future of punctuation’s correct use, mulled over. Once again, I was bemused as to why I was one of the youngest people there. I know a huge number of those who are sticklers for punctuation and lovers of the ‘nice’ behaviour. It sometimes comes across that many consider young/old people very different to themselves – a division. Young people aren’t unrefined/ uncultured/ uneducated and don’t – as unfathomably presumed – exclusively speak in text speak. Whilst older people don’t communicate only in the Queen’s. I don’t think Truss thinks like this though, she seemed to connect to everyone in the audience, all that love a good bit of grammar. And we all united, in a collective ‘ahhh’, because it’s one of those little (important) things that mean a lot to us and it’s one of those idiosyncracies that make us.
So, I left Bath Lit Fest full of thoughts, opinions, debates and words. Encouraged to once again look at new things and old things, differently. Literature is a true gift to humanity. A brilliant festival.