After being parachuted out of New Labour’s Milbank Palace into a safe seat in Stoke, the biographer of Engels and picket line-crosser spent five years slashing Labour’s majority before letting it be known that he would be giving up the seat at a time when the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn were at their most embattled.
I haven’t been able to get to much on the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year, for reasons. After seeing Tariq Ali discuss Lenin, I managed to miss Stuart Cosgrove returning to the subject of Detroit ’67, and 404 Ink marking their epochal Nasty Women with Nadine Aisha Jassat, Joelle Owusu & Laura Waddell.
Phew! That was quite a weekend! On Friday evening, I had the great pleasure of co-hosting the launch of the chapbook In Failure & In Ruins by my friend, former Into the Void Poetry Competition winner Mark Bolsover.
The next day, Mrs Stroke Bloke and I headed through to Glasgow to see the latest production from Kneehigh Theatre, whose Mayday Mayday had such an effect on us in the months after my stroke.
I’ve mentioned it before, but in a scholarship interview to go to the United States to study I was asked to related how I would sum up my idea of Scotland for a curious New Yorker. Social justice and hardcore techno, I said.
I didn’t get that one, funnily enough. But after I honed my interview technique. I did end up going to study in the United States. I started on a J1 student visa before moving on to an H1B visa for foreign workers in specialty occupations which require highly specialized knowledge. [See picture above.]
On Tuesday, I was invited to an event run by The Open University’s Reading Communities team in association with The Scottish Book Trust’s Book Week Scotland and the Being Human festival of the Humanities. It was called Edinburgh: A City of Readers. As well as my story Valhalla, I was asked to read an extract from an 1830 letter written by the actress, writer, and abolitionist campaigner Fanny Kemble in which she talks of breakfasting with Walter Scott and a small party of other Scottish luminaries of the time.
Apparently, she found it
strange that so varied and noble an intellect should be expressed in the features of a shrewd, kindly, but not otherwise striking countenance.
This is the fourth birthday I’ve celebrated in the post-stroke, apoplectic.me world. And it’s a significant one. Really, any birthday after the one you forget because you’ve had a massive haemorrhagic stroke two weeks later is significant.
But specifically, Mrs Stroke Bloke has taken to referring to me during the week of 15th September 2016 as “The Answer”.
Tonight, the Edinburgh Festival and the Fringe will be over for another year. Once again, the shows I went to see for The Edinburgh Reporter were never less than interesting, and the second half of the month was no less thought-provoking.
In addition to the stuff I mentioned last week, Daniel Kitson at the Traverse was great, and AL Kennedy at the Book Festival was a masterclass on how to take an audience with you when reading off the page.