Saturday 4 April 2020

Leaps Year

Last night saw the launch of A Leap in the Dark, an online gathering of kindred spirits. An audience of around 30 were joined by Neil Griffiths, Sam Mills and Frank Wynne, translator of Jean-Baptiste Del Amo's superb prize-winning novel Animalia. We managed to squeeze in about twenty minutes of top flight book talk and a fine reading by Frank before we were cut off, thanks to my own poor judgement and technical knowledge.

For the second Leap tonight I've upgraded the Zoom package (and something in me dies a little at typing such a phrase), which means we shan't be cut off. And I hope Frank, Sam and Neil will join us to continue a fascinating conversation. I also have a copy of Animalia for the audience member who can answer a literary riddle. 

It was wonderful to see old friends and welcome newcomers. We had folk dialling in from Hungary, Mexico, New Zealand, Jersey and all parts of this locked-down little island - Cambridge, Dublin, Huddersfield, Leicester, Norwich, Oxford and York, each in his or her or their bunker and all of us, briefly, united. It was very moving, and heartening. Thank you.

Is this worth doing? Certainly, because these are dark times and are likely to get darker. We're doing this because it's the right thing to do. We're doing this because we have to. 

Join us this evening at 8pm BST for live music from Melanie Pappenheim and Esme Herbert and  poetry from Louis Macneice and Jonathan Gibbs, read by Michael Hughes. Plus a couple of erratically orchestrated surprises. You can be part of this frail travelling coincidence and I'll be sending out links and passwords and the programme from about 6pm. Apologies to all of you who could't log on or had problems registering or were baffled by my premature password emails. Mostly my fault (and I'm using Laura's laptop, which is like using somebody else's house keys). I expect by the end of this month this will be a slicker operation.

Next week's broadcasts are shaping up - we'll be joined on Good Friday (April 10th) by the brilliant author Anakana Schofield who will talk about her new novel Bina (which is, I learn, pronounced to rhyme with 'liner' not 'leaner') and her previous novels. Expect some Eurovision content also. And there will be a bonus ball for the Easter weekend . . . 

Meanwhile Trump says he won't be wearing a facemask. Auden always comes in handy:

The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The Ogre cannot master speech.

About a subjugated plain,
Among it's desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.

Stay well, and I'll see you at tonight's Leap in the Dark.


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