Cambridge Literature Festival

Why have ten words when one is enough.  Here it is “arghhhhhhhh”. Each morning Iforget as my foot slides out of bed and finds  the floor that  blood will rush  downwards to feed the infection.  My foot erupts into a block of burning lava and I lie back on the bed chewing my  forearm so not to scream.  The day begins. I know the pain will subside so I stay their for thirty minutes waiting for my body to adjust  to the pain and  then limp around the apartment  like a wounded soldier and it strikes me that the wounded soldier has much more to deal with.

Eventually it subsides into a more manageable pain. Riding the bike is comparatively easy. At 8am I am at the doctors and by 10am I am diagnosed with a prescription for anti biotics.But there isn’t time for the chemists. I get on my bike and   arrive at The Southbank for about 10.30am and at noon meet artistic director Jude Kelly.  It’s an enjoyable meeting and we agree to meet again.     I then bike it back across the Thames to BushHouse to meet  radio producer Claire Grove at 2pm. I’ve known Claire now for twenty years. From Bush house I bike it to Kings Cross station and get the 3.52  tothe beautiful  city of Cambridge.

Still haven’t been to the Chemist.  I arrive at The Hotel Felix which coincidentally isright across the road from Phil and Helen’s place. Phil and Helen are a couplewhom I have had the pleasure of getting to know over nearly twenty years andwho  have kindly let me stay at their place when I have been in  Cambridge. Thepain in my foot is excruciating still and I am walking with  a pronounced limp.  

At 8.55pm  I arrive at the venue.  The reading is for one hour. I know I can’t physically move so I stand as close as possible to the microphone and talk and read poems.  It feels to me like a wonderful reading.  One hour of poems,  what a delight.   Afterwards  five  friends and I go out and eat some food and chat. We were at the pizza express which was once The Pitt club a gentlemens club for conservative drinkers.   It is one absolutely hilarious evening.  Phil and Mary come back to the hotel for a coffee and the night ends perfectly. A  rowdy bunch pour into the bar as we are walking out... “bladdy ‘ell” says one of them as he passes by “it’s blaady tiger woods”.  I catch what he said and turn, his blonde girlfriend is looking at me apologietically. 

I t reminds me of  when I went into Claridges once to see a man about a bbc radio interview.  He is a wine taster often seen on television. I knew him from Manchester.   He greeted me by bellowing “lemn sissay you black bastard”.  He’d had too many drinksand thought that this in some way was a bonding moment.  Neither of the above have any class. We continued walking and after a couple of seconds  Phil summed up the fleeting moment  (which I thought only I had heard)  “dickhead”, he said. There are times when oneword between friends is enough. 

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