Nobel Laureate Symposium
At six pm I arrived at the science museum on Exhibition Road in South Kensingtonfounded in 1857. As the public poured out the main entrance an hundred dining tables poured in the back . It was fascinating to watch the tables placed and draped in starch white table cloth throughout Energy Hall. Finally In the centre of each table an small oak tree sapling.From small acorns.... What was a public area is now a grand dining hall, lit to perfection. Silent and braced. The waiters in their own starched clothing are ready.
The stage area from were the evening is presented is beneath a suspended airplane. The hall is that big. This museum is incredible and to be here is also incredible. By seven thirty the musicians and I are sat at our respective tables and the nobel laureates and scientists too. They arrived from a day discussing climate change with Prince Charles at St James Palace.
“As part of the 2009 Nobel Laureate Symposium on climate change, the gala cultural evening, entitled Sculpting Our History, sought to explore the role of the arts, creativity and leadership in confronting the climate challenge. 150 eminent leaders from the fields of the arts, business, science, academia, civil society and the public sector joined together to opendialogue across disciplines on the cultural nature of this global problem.”
And so I found myself sat on a table across from Bianca Jagger. There’s a few CEO’s at my table and the head of a Cambridge university plus a Nobel Laureate. On the tableacross from me are Jude Kelly who sits alongside Wole Soyinke. I once introduced him on stage some years ago. It was such a terrible introduction at such an important occasionthat I have felt bad about it ever since. Tonight I apologised to him. He laughed but acknowledged my apology. These things matter. It was at the Ken Saro Wiwa event at TheSouthbank Centre.
In no time it was my time to walk onto stage with my musicians and read one poem. I have been back from South Africa for about twenty Four hours. It's the right poem read in the right place in front of the right people. I could give no better respect to the poem. It seemed right to read it here in a museum that records the industrial revolution and "progress", the invention of thecar and the airplane.
The bass player and piano player began. I look at them and then begin “Let me get it right/What if we got it wrong/What if we weakened ourselves/Getting strong//What if our wanting more/Was making less/What if all this/ Wasn’t progress....”
I finished at about 10.30pm and left only to find the tube stations closed. Fortunately Ifound one that was open and got home for midnight. You can hear and see the full piece here.