week #40 festival

Festival time! Well alright its actually just a virtual one and is a literature festival before you start thinking all bands, wellies and all night dancing. I’ve never been to a literature festival before which is maybe an odd thing for a book lover. Let’s see it as a gift from Covid that this is all available virtually so I’m been listening to and watching some great authors and getting the most out of a modest registration fee.

I think I might be a bit in awe of published authors. Some of the things that are written are just extraordinary and the time and effort taken to put together a whole book is quite a feat. It’s not just, ooh I’ve got an idea, I’ll write it down. It’s about self belief that someone else might like to read it, perseverance and solo determination. And then there are the people who fit this in around the day job and the kids, they are even more amazing to me!

I wasn’t necessarily aware that a literature festival might be a forum to scrutinise world issues but I heard a fascinating overview of the current state of our climate crisis. Political economist Ann Pettifor (The Case for the Green New Deal), climate change expert Chris Goodall (What We Need To Do Now) and environmental campaigner Natalie Fee (How to Save the World for Free) discussed where we are, and what needs to happen next. So much to think about and especially if you (like me) are trying to reduce consumption (week #5 https://wp.me/pbpqSQ-6e) or considering how you can become an activist, maybe for the first time (week #13 https://wp.me/pbpqSQ-a8).

I added in a great session with Bolu Babalola (Love is Blind) speaking with Florence Given, artist, activist and author of best-selling Women Don’t Owe You Pretty about challenging outdated narratives. My stand out thing from this conversation was about “gaze” which is how both men and women look at women and what expectations and narratives they each have when they do that, and then how that impacts female behaviours. So as and when I return to the office can I turn up as myself, or am I going to wear certain clothes/make up/hairstyle to fit in with how I think I ‘should’ appear or how I feel I need to look in order to be taken seriously (see week #37 on makeup https://wp.me/pbpqSQ-jq). That is real food for thought and whilst I expect that I will largely conform to what I perceive to be ‘expected’ at least I’ll do that having thought about it!

Then to hear about a true story about an amazing woman I tuned into historian Ben Macintyre who told the incredible story of the “greatest female spy in history”. An extraordinary life lived across Asia, Europe and Britain through huge world events. Her best asset? To be female. That nice lady who baked so well for the village fete couldn’t possibly be a spy. A lesson in not underestimating the power of a multi skilled woman, or letting appearances dictate how you judge someone.

This was a great challenge. I didn’t know I would get so much out of it. The advantage of the whole thing being on line is that I have paid a small fee and I have access through to the end of the year to listen to any of the sessions when I want, a bargain that I will make the most of well beyond this week.

Big thanks to Cheltenham Literature Festival https://cheltenhamliteraturefestival.com/

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1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. It’s always worth trying something different because it might contain pleasant surprises, as you’ve found. Ok, the opposite could be true, something unpleasant could happen. But with a literary festival, the worst is probably being bored and if it’s virtual, you can just turn it off. So no downside and lots of potential upside!

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