One of my highlights at the Laugharne Weekend was my suspected heart attack. It was only me who suspected it, everyone else was oblivious. My constant drive to be more ludicrous and loud on stage has led to me having the first tingles of pins and needles in my left arm, “Here we go, to die in Aberystwyth Art Centre, and only half full, oh the ignominy”.
This time, after a loud projection about the Gogglebox viewer as self-cannibalising sea squirt, I noticed a numbness in my arm. The blood didn’t feel like it was flowing to the fingers quite as vigorously as it should. As the show continued, the numbness remained.
Drawing to a conclusion, I surreptitiously felt my lower arm. The heart anomaly announced itself, the feeling was not death, but the festival wristband that had slid further up my concealed arm and tightened around my flesh. Later that evening, I took the risk of self surgery and took it off in the shower as the water turned it soggy.
I am an adventurer.
The rest of the weekend was spent going to and fro from chapel to hall, witnessing or participating. In between, there was time for a dinner with Graeme Garden, Kevin Eldon, AL Kennedy and Jeremy Dyson. While I talked of masked wrestlers with Sir Peter Blake last year, this year I discussed Zombie Flesheaters with a Goodie. We both talked admiringly of the underwater zombie and shark battle, then we all moved on to a discussion on the saddest death of an otter in cinema history. Ring of Bright Water trumped Tarka the Otter.
The first event was Sir Henry at Rawlinson End – a one actor and one spoon player production. I’d go to church more often if they interspersed the hymns and prayers with interpretations of grotesque gragoyles of Britishness presented with bellowing & manic chutzpah.
Kevin Eldon and I drank ginger beer and looked at the castle. Ginger beer goes well with crumbling, stair-less towers. For a while, we imagined Lemmy appreciating the memory of feudal lords and pustulous monarchs.
At 10pm, I stood by the church altar opposite Jeremy Dyson, and grilled him about hauntings, apparitions and how to make your readers’ skin crawl and conjure imagined demons behind their back. He talked of the horror writer using the sins they know lie wihtin them, but despite my Paxman-like interrogation, Jeremy refused to reveal the sins that lay within him. “J horror”, such as Dark Water and Ringu was considered the most potent contemporary ghostly flicks. The phrase “Ringu Dark Water” created a flicker of an image of an angry otter spirit slithering gloomily from a well. We also talked of the decline of Scooby Doo, Papa Lazarou, and Peter Wyngarde.
Sunday began with AL Kennedy reading from her new short story collection, All the Rage.
The audience were offered a complete short story that was suitable for a Sunday morning or an excerpt that wasn’t. Unsurprisingly, the latter was chosen. We were warned that this scene in a sex shop was the lightness to propel you through the rest of a far gloomier story, should we purchase the book and read the story in full. I did, and I recommend you do too. Of the authors I have seen, AL Kennedy is one of the best at bringing her written words to voluble life. Even without her varifocals, she read fluently and elegantly, a delivery balancing the humour and pain which relates the depth of creativity in her writing first person narratives. The character that has come from her mind is fleshy and real.
The Q & A covered politics and creation.
On writing workshops – “loads of people who can’t write sit in a room and mislead each other” (though not Richard Ford)
On fear and creativity – “I haven’t met anyone who was any good who wasn’t terrified”.
On the writer as miserablist – “I get very fed up with the art, madness, control thing”.
On poverty in society – “a woman in the street expressed milk at me”
AL K related an incident where a woman begging for money to feed herself and her baby, expressed milk to demonstrate that she was not a liar. There is a point where, even when scepticism remains, it feels like in moments of such desperation, take the risk of giving a bit of money, because the alternative may lead to a far worse outcome.
I interviewed Graeme Garden about The Unbelievable Truth, then he convincingly trounced Kevin Eldon, Al Kennedy and I as he misled us about China, Florence Nightingale and Crocodiles.
oh, and some goats.
Apparently, Alexander Selkirk, the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe, would mark the goats that he had enjoyed “experiencing”, so that he wouldn’t eat them. Ah, the honour of the zoophile.
Alice Roberts took Aristotle as a starting point for a scientific history of the human investigation into “what makes babies”. I know it is not a miracle, but being led through the process of life from sex to cell division to conceivably human embryo is darn tootin’ fascinating, ingenious, boggling and, as Professor Roberts reminded us, a frequent reminder of why design is not as intelligent as it could be if a sentient impresario and inventor had been in charge. I refer you to the recurrent laryngial nerve.
I had to attempt to maintain a straight face while interviewing the actor Kevin Eldon as the poet Paul Hamilton – a terrific creation of po-faced poet of self-importance.
Then, I went to a hall and shouted and imagined my demise due to wristband constriction.
The best quote of the weekend was “Bobby threw it away”, it involved Long John Silver, The Garrick Club and Henry McGee, good fun this showbiz thing.
I am coming to your town. dates here http://www.robinince.com
here is a pilot podcast with Michael Legge and I waffling about Jeff Wayne and even modern things at times https://soundcloud.com/vitriolamusic