Another successful Chipping Norton Literary Festival, the eighth. I enjoy literary festivals; strangely the first one I ever went to was one which I helped set up, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai, back in March 2009. Before it opened it seemed from the media that Dubai though the Festival was going to be a book fair where books are displayed and traded. They soon realised their mistake: a literary festival is about the content of books, not the books themselves. The routine of everyday life is left behind and visitors immerse myself in the magic which lives inside books. It is a source of constant amazement that half the population never read books!
The events at Chippie this year ranged widely and included Frank Gardner talking about his latest political thriller, drawing on his inside knowledge of clandestine diplomacy, Alan Rusbridger on 20 years as editor of the Guardian and Clare Mackintosh’s memoir of Cotswold life. Clare founded the festival and has gone on to become a hugely successful writer of psychological thrillers. My personal highlights were an excellent debate on Brexit, Saira Hamilton’s demonstration of Bangladeshi cooking, Cathy Rentzenbrink’s workshop on life writing and Mark Billingham’s regular literary quiz. And of course coffee and cake at the delightful Jaffé and Neale’s Bookshop.