Dartington: Day 2

Beautiful sunny day - though I woke up feeling the effects of too much wine and partying the night before.  There were lots of interesting people at dinner - Howard Marks, the drug courier who has come out of jail to write crime thrillers (Sympathy for the Devil); comedian Harry Hill, who was quite unlike his TV persona.  I sat next to him but was too diffident to strike up a conversation. What do you say to someone famous for their wit?
Food writers Joscelyn Dimbleby and Elizabeth Luard were very good company - Elizabeth could remember dancing with Mick Jagger at parties in the sixties (check out her memoirs!).  Fiona Sampson, editor of the Poetry Review was there briefly, and Blake Morrison - who is as nice as his books suggest he might be.  He was sitting with Ted Hughes wife Carol.
So, a very enjoyable dinner.  Being shy is a distinct disadvantage though - I’ve never been good at this networking malarkey and have absolutely no small talk.  But I do like people and enjoy listening to interesting conversations.

We ate our breakfasts on the lawn after the fire alarm went off and the building was evacuated, but it turned out to be only someone burning the toast.  After my Christchurch litfest event was prevented by an earthquake, I did wonder whether my Dartington appearance would be thwarted by the Hall burning down - probably giving rise to the legend of the Mansfield Curse!!

In the end the talk seemed to go smoothly - all beautifully choreographed by staff and a very good chairperson.  Though nervous I was soon feeling better in front of a friendly, welcoming audience - I even sold some books afterwards.

The only downside was having to get into the car and drive 350 miles home afterwards - a gruelling 8 hour motorway epic on a hot sunny day we would have loved to spend on the lawn at Dartington.  I shall just have to write another book and get invited back!


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