Thursday, 14 November 2013

Keeping Busy

On Monday we were back in Southwold again for the Ways With Words Literary Festival. The day's session was held in the magnificent St Edmunds church which was completely packed for a talk by Jeremy Paxman. We didn't go to the earlier guest Alan Johnson's talk so when we got inside the building most of the seats were taken and we could only find a pew behind a pillar with a very restricted view of the area set up with microphones. However it was decided that Jeremy would not talk from that area but instead from the pulpit which just happened to be immediately above us so we ended up with the best seats in the house. It was a fascinating talk about his new book on the effect of World War I on the social history of Britain. He was an exceptional speaker and, as he is on both Newnight and University Challenge, the master of the putdown. He was introduced by John, a Southwold man who once worked with Jeremy at the BBC and who commented that their paths crossed about every twenty years - to which Paxman replied that, with current life expectancy, they wouldn't be meeting again. Whether the needling between Jeremy and John which continued in the Q&A session was real or contrived it was great to see the quick wittedness on display. 

We took advantage of being in Southwold by visiting the excellent Adnams shop to stock up on a few early Christmas presents. We're very much on top of the present buying already. I know that there's a long time to go but with several trips north ahead of us in the near future it pays to be organised.

On Monday evening an old colleague came to stay for the night so we took him down to The Crown for a bite to eat. The food at The Crown continues to go from strength to strength on every visit and we had another excellent meal from head chef Matt Ransome's kitchen. Both the dining room and the pub were very busy for a Monday night but, as always, the service was speedy, friendly and attentive. 

After a brief visit to the opticians with Marion I spent Tuesday and Wednesday reading through the final copy edit of my novel. I've paid for it to be done professionally and I'm very pleased with the results. My editor corrected all my errors perfectly and, in addition, made a number of suggestions to improve what I had written by getting rid of a few clunky sentences and descriptions. It's funny that she highlighted a number of passages that I knew were a bit flowery but had left in perhaps to show off a bit - they've all gone now. Traditionally the next step would be to send the manuscript off to scores of publishers and wait for the rejection slips but with the wonderful world of self publishing I can now publish it myself and inflict upon the reading public yet another wannabe's effort. I'm fairly friendly with a few self-published authors on Twitter and some have had amazing success and sold over 100,000 copies. If I do a fraction as well as them I will be happy.

 With the editing done and dusted we headed off to the super Ipswich Film Theatre Trust for a matinee showing of The Selfish Giant. This is a British film that has achieved massive critical acclaim but is never going to make it to the multiplexes. It's the story of two school friends Arbor and Swifty in Bradford. Arbor is small, scrawny, foul mouthed and angry. Swifty is much taller, overweight and a far gentler character who is bullied at school. They're both troubled teenagers from troubled backgrounds and it reminded me of the characters in the early episodes of Shameless before it became a ridiculous parody of itself. After seeing men stealing cable from a railway line and then being excluded from school they attempt to make money from scrap metal, riding a borrowed horse and cart around the streets scavenging for whatever they can. Arbor is hell bent on making money by whatever means while Swifty's passion is for the horses. 

Thuggish scrap metal merchant Kitten plays a pivotal role in the film by encouraging Swifty to train to ride a horse in a trotting race and by encouraging Arbor to steal heavy duty power cable. The horse gives Swifty hope but Arbor is hellbent on self destruction. This is a very powerful film. The direction and the acting are exceptional and those glowing critical reviews are well deserved. But, as well as powerful, the film is also extremely grim and I'm not a lover of grim. So if you want to see a powerful and devastating drama give it a try but if, like me, you like a bit of happiness in your filmgoing, give it a very wide berth.