Salman Rushdie gave a long talk to around 3,000 people on the need for imagination in fiction, entwined with a history of Indian and Arabic storytelling, while Philippa Gregory, Joe Dunthorne and Guadalupe Nettel talked about love and conflict in literature. Some big names to kick things off - but not just big names, a lot of up-and-coming writers too.
Sunday night is folk night. We'd arranged to have one act from each of the four home countries, but four days ago Wales (Julie Murphy & Ceri Matthews) dropped out with kidney stones. Well, one of them. Too late to find anyone else so on the day we re-jigged the running order so that the duos of Sam Lee & Jon Whitten (English songs) and Jarlath Henderson & Hamish Napier (Irish songs) played a great acoustic set altogether. That's them at our press conference. Went really well. Sam Lee's voice and presence is quite magical. Personally I was rather less keen on the techno-folk of the Peatbog Faeries from Scotland, but a big crowd were wild for them.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Day two. And so begins in earnest our programme of talks, around 20 today, covering mostly literature and science. Team beavering away in our operations room behind the Pavilion, getting authors to the right halls, arranging media interviews, solving problems. We also have an army of 50 blue T-shirted volunteers.