Town mouse loves literary festivals

In this Best of Britain issue, I can’t neglect to mention literary festivals-what a phenomenon they’ve become! On Wednesday, I was guest of the Sherborne Literary Society, not actually at a festival (that’s in October), but at a luncheon. Thrillingly, it had bought all the copies of my soon-appearing novel that the publisher had managed to supply and I left bearing a handcrafted mug. Thence to Hay-on-Wye, festival of festivals.

The last time I was there, the sun smote down and we ate in the garden. That was, however, about seven years ago and the sun probably hasn’t blessed the festival since then. Fortunately, I had wellies to wear over my suit. I hurried back for the Bloxham Festival of Faith and Literature in Oxfordshire. Tantalisingly, as my theme was war memorials, Bloxham has a museum. The display now in it includes some soldiers’ letters: one shows a detailed plan of accommodation in the trenches. Alas, the museum was closed by the time I’d delivered my talk.

What surprised me, in this odyssey, was how easy it was by train. The Great Silver Beast that would, in other years, have driven me between these engagements has gone for scrap. Our railways may not qualify as the best, but moans can be overdone.

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