Friday, February 6, 2009
I took this picture on the Friday evening at the Dead Men's Tales event.
This dead men's tales thing was an interesting event for sure. I turned up at Dick's bar in a trishaw with some merry women and walked into a new experience, as most things at the GLF were for me.
You know me, that I read lots and lots, but most of the things I read aren't exactly at the "classic" end of the literary rainbow. Okay I've read a lot of the works of Capt W.E Johns but most of my library is somewhat less serious. So an evening of famous authors and the like reading the works of other famous but dead authors was an exciting prospect yet I didn't know why.
As I walked into Dick's Bar I felt as if I'd walked into a pea souper of literary atmosphere. I could have cut it with a bookmark if I owned one but, much to the consternation of some, I always fold a little triangle in the corner of my page to mark my place. I didn't invent triangles though, that was someone else. The Dairylea bloke I think.
It was a buzzing and fun atmosphere and authors, poets and arty people were everywhere letting their hair down. It seemed as if many of the participants had been in an enjoyable work mode during the day but were now in an enjoyable enjoyment mode. Alcohol clearly aided this as well. Some of these literati were even drinking the stuff.
Maybe my "career" in literature is so virginal that I'll grow to understand these things but, right now at least, I don't get much enjoyment from hearing people read chunks, chunks from books. Hearing someone read a page or a paragraph from a book is the literary equivalent of a digital watch compared to an analogue one.
A digital watch tells the time, here and now. It displays the now time, you get a snapshot, with no idea of the time that has passed or the time that will come. It's very good at that and will generally display the now time with more accuracy than an analogue.
An analogue though paints a bigger picture. By looking at the hands you get a feel of the time that has passed and the time to come. When it's twenty past two and the minute hand is on the four you see the space between the twelve and the four and feel that twenty minutes. You see the second hand ticking away and you get that sense of time happening before your eyes.
For me, reading a book is the whole meal, hearing a person bung out a little paragraph is giving me a mouthful, then yanking it out of my mouth just as I start to savour the taste. So I didn't pay a whole bag of attention to the words being narrated to us by the famous authors. What I did do was to watch things going on around me. That was far more interesting. I also cranked up the ISO to 1600, whacked on my fast lens and took a few pictures too. God, I love digital, in the photography field that is, far more than in the watch one.
Germaine Greer, as she started to talk, was interrupted by someone in the crowd passing out drunkenly and noisily. It sounded like one of those pissed people falling over incidents that we're all quite familiar with. I'll tell you what, I wouldn't have wanted to be the drunk person if he'd bumped into the Aussie feminist the next day. She stopped almost mid sentence, waited for the person to get whatever aid was needed and carried on. A piece of dog poo on her shoe would have got more sympathy from her for the interruption. If looks could kill..
After her introduction she read her piece, though it wasn't her's. It was obviously by one of these great writers and, once she'd finished, she said that she didn't have to tell us who had written it, the implication being that all of us, the big reading crowd that we were, would have recognised the writer as soon as Prof Greer had utterred the first syllable.
The many heads, including my own one, nodded in unison, with that knowing nod, you know the one, the "omigod how stupid is anyone who doesn't know THAT?" one. I'd like to be the first person to admit that I didn't have the faintest fucking clue who had written the piece. It could have been Dennis the Menace for all I knew, but the nodding, the pretending that I was all literatured up, was good fun.
Romesh Gunasekara seemed like a nice, though intense, fellow. He was strolling around in a carefree nature, I think he'd done some reading out aloud before but I'd missed it, having what looked like a whale of a time. But he was reading a book of some sort. It looked like a small bible, a dictionary or a thesaurus, something I wish I could think of another name for. It all struck me as very intense and arty, as I slugged down my Lion Lager. Maybe he loves books so much that he listens to people narrating and reads something at the same time.
Moses Isegawa got up and made me think that he was a stand up comedian, a funny one too. His introduction, quips about Obama and racial observations, were on the far side of hilarious. He won my award for the funniest person in the event. He was nearly as funny as one of DQ's posts, that'll give you an idea of the high standard of his humour.
There's this tree or bush in the middle of the courtyard with seating around it and I was a bit startled to see that there were three or four people, oldish I'll admit, who had fallen fast asleep in situ. Their necks would probably be quite angry with them later but the mature father type in me wondered why they didn't scoot off to their hotels and let us have the seats.
The evening ended. We got a tri shaw back to the Fortress and just beat Moses Isegawa's van. It wasn't his van as such, just the one he was in. It was proof to me that tri shaws are probably the best form of transport ever. More on that another time.
More on Deepika Shetty another time too. But a different another time.
A damn good evening was had by all.