Books, music, cinema...where's the art?

Books, music, cinema...where's the art?

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It’s Cheltenham Literature Festival time again and we kicked off our 2018 programme by listening to Robert Peston on Friday night. Slightly awkward, his physical manner proved trying for me but oh my word, did he talk a lot of sense.

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We were there again yesterday, each choosing a different presentation - my Hero to hear Alastair Darling, Kamal Ahmed and a couple of other financial experts talk about “the crash: ten years on” whilst I focused on a more Japanese theme and began by going to listen to Sayaka Murata, having just finished her book “Convenience Store Woman”.


Now this proved to be an interesting experience. Not only were we hearing about a book I’d read in translation (and I was interested to know how that affected the original concept of this rather weird novel) but Sayaka spoke no English, so she was contributing to the discussion by means of an interpreter. Everything was a little slow, then, somewhat hesitant and it was like hearing a discussion transmitted by Chinese whisper. I’m not sure I learned a great deal about the book that I hadn’t worked out for myself but I suppose it was interesting to learn a little bit about the author, who explained that normally, she writes “more cruel stories”. Hmm.


I hot-footed it next door for my next event and found a couple of familiar characters waiting on stage: Totoro, Kodama from Princess Mononoke and Jiji from Kiko’s Delivery Service. We’ve been fans of the Studio Ghibli animations since seeing Spirited Away all those years ago and our love of the films increased when we visited the Ghibli studios in Tokyo a few years ago. So seeing an event discussing their work on the programme, I immediately added it to my wishlist.


I’d totally overlooked the fact that Mark Kermode was on the panel, so there was an added bonus. The discussion was fascinating and I immediately want to watch those magical films again!


This weekend was also the first of this season’s operas, live from the Met: Aida. For the first time, however, transmission issues made for a few judders and sound distortion, which was a little disconcerting at first and progressively, rather more annoying. The cinema manager appeared and went off to reset the live feed, which needed a couple of goes before it was working as it should. Apologies and a voucher for full refund were gratefully accepted and the technology that allows all of this magic to happen in the first place duly acknowledged.


So what about the art? Well, the art was in Bruton, Somerset today, where we were meeting Mary, Diana and a group of friends from Los Angeles to visit the Hauser und Wirth gallery and the Piet Oudolf field alongside. Except it’s Monday and I need go no further…


Suffice to say that lunch at the Chapel was just as spectacular as our friends’ jewellery! It was lovely to see them, to catch up on things and make plans too. Short and sweet, though.

Next time, make it a Tuesday. Or a Wednesday. Any day but Monday, in fact.

Festival goers

Festival goers