I was greeted on Sunday by my friends eager to hear about my trip home. Not necessarily about my family or the party, but the food and the showers. It was like porn. They wanted to live vicariously through my journey back to civilisation. Moving swiftly on! Patrick Barkham, author of Badgerlands, turned up to talk about badgers in a badger onesie. His passion for the badgers was infectious. I want a pet badger now, though I’m not sure he’d think that was a good idea.
Sunday was a pretty insightful day in the Literature Tent. Rachel Cooke, Naomi Wood and Sarfraz Manzoor spoke about extraordinary women in history; career driven women in the 1950s and the many loves of Ernest Hemingway. Lauren Beukes talked about the inspiration behind her many books, how she submerges herself into refugee camps and poverty stricken areas of America and South Africa. Beukes finds larger than life details in her research that she includes in her books, giving her allegorical worlds authenticity. She quotes P. J. O’Rourke: “Just as some things are too strange for fiction, others are too true for journalism.”
And then there are the boys. Mr Bingo spoke about his Hate Mail project and the public’s willingness to be insulted through the medium of vintage postcards. Mark Watson was also running around the audience that sat on the carpeted floor of the tent. Watson see’s stand-up comedy as a day job, it’s paying his bills and he pursues his first love, fiction. He’s always wanted to be a novelist and he’s self-deprecating about his skill. Refusing to acknowledge his first two novels, he calls him third novel ‘good’ and fourth ‘better’. His latest novel – fifth or third, depending on who you ask – Hotel Alpha is ‘very good’. As well as the novel, he’s published 100 short stories about the guest of the hotel on the internet: www.hotelalphastories.com. Watson’s excited about the way people read and wanted to give more and in different ways.
And that’s a good note to end on, because that’s what Latitude is. Getting books to people in a different way; it’s a communal way of enjoying art. We need to do that more.