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The weekend began with a brilliant sunny morning on


We were due to leave , when heard on the local radio that
Sir Ian Botham , was starting his charity walk from our town and the centre was
closed to traffic.


When we did leave later in the afternoon, the sunshine was
just as brilliant, and warm.


We were on our way to the annual literature festival in Cheltenham. A beautiful town, full of Regency
architecture and tree lined promenades and squares. The place is full of open
spaces and broad walks. And in the middle of one such green square was the
massive tent, where everything was happening. There was Andrew Marr, browsing
at the massive shelves, laden with books. Kate Addie keeping an eye on
everything, as she is, along with the author Ian Rankin  the guest directors this year.


The theme of this year’s festival was the family. And how it
shapes what we read and write. How some families become dynasties and shape
entire nations.

 There were many
children’s authors, and the sunshine  brought out many children, listening, thumbing books and just being out
in the sunshine and enjoying the atmosphere. Books were selling at an
astonishing rate, and then everyone will form an orderly queue to get it signed
by the author.


I attended two workshops. I know that I don’t have a
creative bone in my body! Am drawn to factual non fiction writings, and even do
that poorly.

 My first workshop was
at the park campus of the university of Gloucester. With the
Chief Foreign Commentator of The Times.

Never having been in such illustrious company, I walked in
with some trepidation.

Bronwen Maddox, is a petite and attractive woman.  With  steely eyes and a determined mouth.  She talked about her own experiences, how she was the one to break the
story of Robert Maxwell. She explained the importance of the “third paragraph”.
And its importance in writing.  The
importance of being impartial, and fair , and how not to make important news
features too emotional.

The people
attending this were not just the students, learning journalism, but from all ages and disciplins in life..

Listening to
all these talented people, I have come to realise, how dismal my own efforts


The other workshop was by Carole Angier. The biographer of
Primo Levi and Jean Rhys.

This is another aspect of non fiction writing, and was a
useful exercise in my learning curve. But the people there were so talented and
wrote such amazing pieces in the class, and read them out with such confidence,
that I felt quite in adequate. And came out thinking if I should continue with
my dismal offerings at all!


In the course of the weekend, I met up with two wonderful
people. Regular and talented bloggers on this site. Charming and accomplished
writers, it is very rewarding to meet real people from a

On Sunday in the Times tent, I sat sipping coffee, while
Nick Higham, Libby Purvis, Bill Odie and others sat there too, sipping coffee
and chatting. One of the correspondent of the Times came and sat next to me
(Tim Muir) and chatted.

 He was impressed at
the number of people attending, and said that a record number of books are
being printed in the UK these days. When I asked him then how come we hear the annual cries, that the
standards of education are going down? He said he could not answer it.

I wonder if any of you can?  Book sales up every year, and we say that education is not what it used
to be, and that people have a very short attention span.


Answers anyone????





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