A quick spin around Cheltenham Lit Fest

My favourite TV cook, Keith Floyd used to ask cameraman Clive to have a quick spin around the ingredients,  so here’s my attempt, for anyone who has never been, at a quick spin around Cheltenham Festival of Literature.

It’s a purely personal subjective cornucopia of quote and snippets and things that made me laugh or fill up with tears.

To be brutally frank, it didn’t begin well. I didn’t like the way I was dealt with when I turned up at the Centaur Centre (Cheltenham Racecourse) a bit late due to unexpected road closure. A portly woman with bad hair in a uniformed jacket of some sort told me I couldn’t go to my seat in the third row and sent me upstairs into the darkness behind a pillar. I couldn’t see the stage but I could see the empty row where my seat was. It would have been no trouble at all to slip into it unobstrusively. The Prisoner Cellblock H warder must have thought I don’t look like the unobtrusive type. Or she was just a jobsworth bitch. I favour the latter.

Palin was, as usual, lovely and amusing and informative about his travels around Brazil – soon to be seen in a TV series. He visited one endangered tribe which was very rarely seen (though I think that endangered tributes should probably be left severely alone to become slightly less endangered) and another in a different part of the Brazilian rainforest, which has the savvy to want gifts of cameras and computers. No good trying to thrill those dudes with beads. They want broadband.

He was surprised at the directness of a TV cook he met. She said, via an interpreter, that every time she cooked a meal it was like having an orgasm. Palin recounted how he mumbled something gentlemanly and wet about “Oh, that must be very tiring.” The cook replied, straight-faced, “Oh no. Making love is much more tiring!”

David Suchet, otherwise known as TV’s Poirot was a big surprise for me. He didn’t have a book to plug but he won me over – such a lovely, articulate, thoughful bloke with such enthusiasm for meeting his audience at the festival – his first ever festival, he confesed. He told how he had already shot the last ever Poirot scene and it sounds a real poignant tear-jerker, so be warned. He also revealed how he got the Poirot walk – by clenching an old penny in a certain place, as Sir Larry Olivier had done for a theatre role, to get the pained walk just right.

With 700 million viewers worldwide, you’d think it was Poirot which he’d cite as the programme that changed his life… but no, he said it was “Blott on the Landscape.”

“Because Agatha Christie’s daughter saw me in it and thought I’d make a good Poirot.”

He dreams of doing comedy but on his desk, he only has three tragedies to choose from.

“Bond on Bond” is the book to which Sir Roger Moore contributed, so of course he was there at the Festival, urbane and charming, being interviewed by Peter Gutteridge and allowed to tell all the best anecdotes and poke fun at Sean Connery.

“I made it known he was responsible for the collapse of the Bank of Scotland because he drew all his money out in cash.

Lana Turner taught him to kiss properly – “use the same passion but less pressure.” He said all the Bond villains he worked with “were lovely.” He told how the actor who played NikNak was a compulise womaniser and made a move on the lovely Maud Adams when they were on location in Hong Kong filming The Man With The Golden Gun.

“He was holding hands with her walking into the Peninsula Hotel and said “I’m going to take you up to your room and make mad passionate love to you.”

“If you do and I find out about it, I’ll be very angry,” she replied.

In his view, Daniel Craig will turn out to be the best ever Bond but he hated the way Quantum of Solace was filmed. “The director shot it in two second cuts like a bad TV show.”

His favourite line was from the casino scene in Diamonds Are Forever with Lana Wood at the gambling table who introduced herself to Bond (Sean Connery) “My name is Plenty O’Toole”

Connery replied “After your father, no doubt.”

Sir Roger, laughing, “I’d love to have delivered that line.”

I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue wasn’t the real show, lacking the new chairman Jack Dee, but it was certainly as funny, with Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Gardner, Barry Cryer and Colin Sell on the piano.

New Definitions of Old Words: Arsenal – the whole body. Cardiology – the study of knitwear. Pastich – what Sean Connery calls Cornwall. Push – what Sean Connery calls the cat. Shit – what Sean Connery says to his dog.

The star guests at the Late Arrivals were, without question Mr and Mrs Snockers and their daughter Norma Snockers.

And they retold the old Willie Rushton joke about spotting the subtle distinction between erotic and kinky. “Erotic is using a feather in a delightfully sensual manner. Kinky is using the whole chicken.”

To be continued….


About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
This entry was posted in Art, Current Affairs, Fiction and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to A quick spin around Cheltenham Lit Fest

  1. I saw Paul O’Grady and John Simm at the weekend but won’t say anything at the moment!

  2. IsobelandCat says:

    You have centaurs running at Cheltenham? Really?
    Clue, and the News Quiz should both be available on the NHS.
    Let me know when that woman’s recipe book is published. Sounds worth every penny.

    • janh1 says:

      Laughing here, Isobel 🙂 The Mythical Beasts Stakes would be worth a watch, certainly!
      I agree completely about Clue and the News Quiz. The Clue lot are just brilliantly witty. Awesome, really.

    • janh1 says:

      Just about to go get raspberries., Attempting to vary your lovely applecake recipe with addition of a handful of tart, fresh raspberries and some finely chopped almonds… I’ll report back.

  3. Pseu says:

    I still miss Willie Rushton…..

    Shame I couldn’t be there this year….

  4. Darrel Kirby says:

    I have to confess that I’ve never been to the Lit Fest. Often thought about it or even planned to do it, but never managed it. It always comes down to too much hassle fitting it around work and too expensive to do loads and take the week off to enjoy it. And how do you remember all those details? You obviously either have an amazing memory or scribble furiously throughout.

  5. janh1 says:

    Hi D. Yes it was massive hassle for me to fit it around work too. Next year I might actually take time off instead of fleeing from work, arriving late at events and having to run across town afterwards… ! I have terribly memory so yes, scribbling furiously is what I do. 🙂

  6. Jan, great stuff. What a star-studded festival! Roger Moore and David Suchet – fantastic!

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