Killer bees and vintage bonnets
Independent Bath Literary Festival
Prolific writer and commentator John Walsh contributes columns to the paper as well as writing features, interviews and restaurant reviews. He has been editor of The Independent Magazine, literary editor of the Sunday Times and features editor of the London Evening Standard.
Friday 09 March 2012
“Happy Women’s Day, and enjoy it while it lasts,” said Dame Harriet Walter cheerily. “The other 364 are for the men.”
She was kicking off a marathon session of readings on Thursday to commemorate the 100th International Women’s Day. It’s been a whole century of Days since the time when women still struggled to win equal rights, equal pay and a vote in general elections. The Independent Bath Literature Festival marked the centenary by focussing on female writers. In the church of St Michael’s Without, in the centre of Bath, for eight hours from 10am to 6pm, works by 100 women were read out by volunteers, three minutes a time. Anyone could choose a favourite passage of poetry or prose by a favourite woman writer and join in, by prior arrangement.
Dame Harriet led the readings with a passage from a fiction by her friend Pauline Melville, the Anglo-Guyanan actress turned novelist, an extract that moved from a flawlessly ventriloquised scene of Foreign Office spymasters plotting a fake “incident” to a scene in which a Surinamese girl with a pail of lemonade on her head is monstered by killer bees.
Walter/Melville was followed by readings from Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. By 2pm, no fewer than 65 local women and schoolgirls had queued patiently for their turn: bringing to yelping life the words of Fay Weldon, Carol Ann Duffy, Jeanette Winterson and Charlotte Bronte. A passage from Pride and Prejudice was recited with a fine dramatic flourish by Jackie Herring, director of the local Jane Austen Festival, dressed in period costume and a rather thrilling bonnet.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin file for divorce after 10 years of marriage
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 4 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
- 5 Google search history can now be downloaded in its entirety, mass embarrassment expected
Safe House, TV review: Plenty of teasers to keep us guessing but spare us the cliches
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars: Rogue One trailer: Watch the teaser for the Jedi-less Death Star heist film
Avengers Age of Ultron 'after credits' scene leaks online days before cinema release
Louis Tomlinson is launching his own record label and has already 'signed two acts'
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Katie Hopkins on LBC: Listen to caller taking The Sun columnist to task over migrant comments
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling