THE VIEW FROM HERE HURRAH for the IW Literary Festival, only in its second year but already steeped in high standards and set to attract the very best speakers for years to come.
And what a tribute to Serena Courage, the founder of the festival. She died earlier this year, far too young, but leaving a legacy which most people would never achieve if they lived to be 100.
Everybody seems to have had a great time, with Simon Hoggart giving the festival a special mention in his Guardian column last Saturday.
"Only in its second year but already thriving," he wrote, before complaining about the trains on the way back. He doesn’t seem to have got the idea on that one. You’re supposed to grumble about the ferries, not the trains, Simon. It’s the Island’s current craze.
Author Louis de Bernieres also had a problem. Not trains but the loss of his daughter Sophie’s new cuddly fox.
Really, it’s too bad. He’s offered a reward for its return but I don’t hold out much hope. Following the ban on fox hunting, the IW tally-ho brigade will have a go at anything so long as it won’t get them prosecuted.
Madness to bring a fox, particularly a cuddly one, to the Island, I’m afraid, Louis.
Trains and foxes notwithstanding, it was all a huge success. And it is surely significant that people still want direct contact with authors and get so much satisfaction when they can connect with them in the same room or on a literary tour, such as the the coach trip conducted by actress Celia Imrie around the Island.
You can discover just about everything via computers these days. If you want to know what an author has to say on his work, Google it. Use You Tube to get up videos of your favourite celebrities.
There’s plenty of cultural stuff on the telly, too. No need to bother to pay to see these people in the flesh.
Except, of course, it is worth it. Nothing is quite the same as observing somebody for real, of getting the flavour of what they’re really about and what their work means to them.
I hope our Island bookshops will also gain something from the festival. Bookshops everywhere are going through difficult times, largely thanks to the massive success of Amazon.
I confess I’m in no position to get on my high horse on this subject. I’ve bought books from Amazon. Quite often. Cheaper, easier, just a couple of clicks and there you are, ooh, yes, and I’ll have free postage, too, thank you so much.
But I know I’ll be up there complaining when another bookshop bites the dust. Such a shame, I’ll say. And it will be my fault, with everybody else who couldn’t make the effort to support their local bookshop.
When times are hard, it’s very difficult to make a conscious decision to spend more money where one need not. And if that were the only issue in the Amazon versus bookshop dilemma, I’d say, well, tough on the shops. It’s a commercial world out there.
But of course it’s not just about money. As visitors to the literary festival discovered, the real world is so much more satisfying than the virtual one.
Similarly, albeit Amazon ordering is efficient, it lacks soul. But to enter a bookshop, to touch the books, to riffle through the pages, to admire the lay-out, to get a proper feel of what the work is about, that is why bookshops are worth every bit of the extra we might pay for our purchases.
Communities are always poorer places when the pub, school or church closes. It’s the same with bookshops.
Even if you feel your finances demand you use Amazon, at least consider buying just one work, maybe this Christmas, at an Island bookshop.
We’ll have nobody to blame but ourselves if we don’t.
Another 'For Sale’ sign, more empty premises and further lifeblood drained from our cultural and emotive lives.
I had to lie down after that thought
ALWAYS eager to follow the adventures of the UKIP party, I was initially quite taken aback by two headlines in last week’s CP, inches away from each other.
The first read "UKIP man in court", the second "Farage in IW".
Had the Island done what no Europhile had achieved and arrested Nigel Farage, the ultimate "UKIP man"?
Obviously, I am not suggesting for one moment Mr Farage has done anything to warrant his being in court but it is a scenario of which some of us have dreamed, if for no other reason than it might take that ghastly smirk off his face.
It turned out, however, the "UKIP man" was somebody else, while the party’s leader was just making a visit to the Island to talk about, among other things, UKIP’s 'relationship’ with Robert Kilroy-Silk.
The idea of a relationship with Kilroy-Silk, whatever its nature, made me so ill I had to lie down for a while. Still, at least when I came round, Mr Farage had gone.