Sunday, 22 April 2012

The newly born #ChipLitFest

We heard of Chipping Norton organising a literary festival over twitter. Such events deserve to be encouraged and so re-tweets were the order of the day and as a result my wife won a golden ticket. With this ticket she had free reign to attend as many events as she wanted and also had access to the green room.

The first I heard was 'How far is Chipping Norton?'.
'About 100 miles' I replied, 'Why?'

Oh dear... With family and pets and other stuff it's difficult to to just drop everything and take a weekend away so some deep planning was in order.

After discussions with our daughter it was decided we would do just 2 events on the Saturday. One was "Making a Living without any Serious Work" and the other was "How to break into freelance writing". With just these 2 events chosen we could take Dylan to the in-laws in the morning, drive leisurely to Chipping Norton and perhaps take in a little of the ambience and then return home collecting a very licky Dyl on the way. Regular readers will know of Dylan who really should get some blogging done! These events were also chosen because our daughter is at that age where she is expected to know what she wants to do and children of her age never can be reasonably expected to. She does write very well though - but I'm partisan so feel free to make your own mind up HERE - and she expressed positive interest in these two.

Chipping Norton seems to exist in a spatial anomaly. Traffic is slow, unhurried and polite - just the way traffic never is. The streets are olde worlde, eclectic and can't fit in the space they occupy. The people are slow and unhurried or rushing - nothing in between. And their dress seems to span the last 50 years yet doesn't look out of place. It is a quiet little town with an atmosphere.

The second event was scheduled to finish on the minute when the second event started so it would be a rush to get across even this small town. When they emerged, just a little early, from the first event smiles seemed to be the order of the day. (I had no interest in either event and planned to explore other things around the town, and in fact the town itself) Unfortunately the heavens decided to demonstrate their capabilities at almost that point so I made a dash for the town hall while they just made it indoors to the second event.

The town hall was the centre for the non-event items of the festival - publishers, book stalls and other related promotional stands. While the town hall is an old and interesting building, it is not the largest of buildings and so there was not a lot in there but what there was rather limited in space and the room felt a little like a jumble sale rather than a literary festival - sorry chaps! I am sure that the festival is going to demonstrate credibility to publishers this year and be better supported next year so maybe more space will be given over to these things which, for me, are an important part of such festivals as Hay and Edinburgh - think big is my motto.

The second event was rather cramped in its venue but equally enjoyed by both wife and daughter and daughter came away with something. You are never sure what it is you get... confidence, understanding?

We never did find the green room! Mind, we had no 'golden ticket' to identify ourselves at the green room had we found it!

A good first year but next time perhaps more ambition and with everything learnt from this year a bigger and better festival?

But chaps... please leave a gap between events so people can get between them in the Chipping Norton fashion of relaxed and unhurried?

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