Tripping over Roy Hattersley and Buster his dog to find my three authors and get to the event I was chairing all got quite fraught last Saturday afternoon, in the end it was like herding kittens as I rounded them up and kept them in one place long enough to get the flow of things sorted before we 'evented'.
Having chaired and kept order over The Women's Guide to Saving the World by Karen Eberhardt Shelton, with Penelope Shuttle and Fiona Walters on the panel too, I realised that chairing is a thoroughly enjoyable pastime. I thought it would be nerve-wracking and actually this event could have been because it's a subject that arouses passionate comment, and though I did need my wits about me as the debate ranged around the room it all felt very enjoyable.
Ensuring the person with their hand up in the back row actually has their say before the blood supply to their hand runs dry, politely but firmly retrieving the floor from the person in the front row who has a lengthy point to make but not actually a qestion, it's all in a day's chairing work.
But Ways With Words Dartington 2008 now over and what a magical experience it has all been.
An interesting nay challenging experience to post immediate thoughts here but an opportunity I've relished. I've heard some inspirational speakers, read some fantastic books and had my thinking well and truly provoked and prodded out of its usual apolitical carpet slipper comfort zone.
I almost feel I'll return to work something of an activist next Monday, that'll shock them.
I mean Martin Bell said it, 'If you want bad things to happen do nothing' but I expect it will all have dissipated by about lunchtime on Tuesday.
Actually make that Monday afternoon.
My colleague is away for the next three weeks, it's just me and 375 under fives. Everyone said it must have been exhausting and very hard work covering a literary festival for ten days...absolutely not, it was pure unadulterated pleasure; 375 under fives on just three days a week is what I call hard work.
I've almost filled a Moleskine notebook with Lamy Safari fountain pen scribbles and become very attached to it. Even more bonded to all my books full of marginalia and notes now they are also signed by the authors, I will treasure those.
My thanks to Ways With Words for the festival pass and comfortable accommodation when I needed it; gratitude to all the lovely people in the office who guarded my laptop, the stewards who kindly reserved me my back row balcony seat for the 'packed to the rafters' events and all those lovely enthusiastic festival goers with whom it is so easy to strike up the most fascinating conversations.
Thanks also to Jennifer, Festival Artist in Residence for the portrait, a lovely memento.
Books really do remove all boundaries and forge friendships.
The jewel in the crown surely Dartington Hall itself, looking spectacular in all its glory, revealing yet more of its secret and hidden places and creating a store of memories that will last through the winter especially as we are still waiting for summer to arrive here.
I sincerely hope you've all enjoyed it too, I think you have because I've had some lovely e mails and thank you for such encouraging words. You've been fine company, it's been a pleasure to take you along every day, fancy being able to cram that many people in a Fiesta?
I also have to agree that the Barn Theatre Cafe was very tempting and we probably didn't need a slice of that luscious lemon cake quite so regularly, but wasn't it delicious?
Yes indeed, I think a good time was had by all.