On Friday, Leigh and I took a well-earned break from the office and spent the day at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. We had a genuinely lovely day. Not necessarily because of the events we paid to attend (although they were all excellent, both entertaining and insightful) but because of the room it gave us to think and to be challenged intellectually. Owen Sheers made me want to rediscover poetry and to seek out his BBC4 programme on iPlayer; the discussion on mad women in literature triggered a desire to discover a few unread classics; and the subject of journalism writing history highlighted global issues I know scarcely enough about to make the kind of judgements I find myself making.
If only I had the time to do all of those things: to read non-fiction, classics, poetry, political diaries; to watch documentaries about subjects that are new to me; to visit places that will stimulate me. I do have that time. I am simply too distracted by day-to-day living but also by the technology in my home, which requires little attention, wastes many hours and allows me to passively absorb information – little of it of any consequence – in bite sized chunks. A case in point: this week I have tried (and failed) to read three different books. This is not the fault of the books. It is my painfully and increasingly short attention span.
I would like our day at the literature festival to change that.
Some other observations from Friday:
1. I was having breakfast (well, coffee) in Starbucks. They’ve started asking for your first name when you order and then proceed to shout, “tall Americano with room for milk for Jenn!” I don’t like it.
2. Leigh phoned whilst I was in Starbucks to say she was lost (she really, really was). I used Google Latitude to find her and it worked a treat.
3. I was impressed by the sheer number of children at the festival and completely bowled over by their delight and enthusiasm as they had books signed by authors such as Anthony Horowitz and Julia Donaldson. I was bowled over in a very different sense by the number of adults queuing to meet Alan Titchmarsh.
4. There was a lovely European market on the Promenade and it was there that I discovered that sweet ginger is delicious when eaten together with sundried tomatoes.