At the end of this year’s Off the Shelf Literary Festival, could I publicly express a massive “thank you” to its organisers, and also to the speakers who came along to both entertain and enlighten us as to how they use their skills to produce best-selling books, and other forms of art, particularly films.
I mention films as the high point of the festival for me was to re-watch Kes, the sixties movie about the young Barnsley boy who found solace in his love for a wild kestrel, whilst living a sad brutal life. I noticed several younger members of the audience were visibly shocked to see how Billy Casper's school teachers seemed to enjoy inflicting physical pain on kids supposedly in their care. The caning of five of them was chilling, particularly as one of them was not guilty of any misdemeanor! Its star David,(Dai), Bradley answered questions afterwards about the highs and lows of his career, saying that Kes is still relevant today. I have to agree.
Another stand out event was David Baddiel talking about the children's novels he has written. He did something I haven't seen before in that he came into the audience and invited the young children present to say what they thought of his work. I urge future speakers to do the same if they dare! My only disappointment was that I was unable to see Price of Coal film at Elsecarr as it quickly sold out. Surely a second screening could have been arranged! I recall that the performance by the late funny man Bobby Knutt in a straight role was excellent. I note that all the talks I went to were chaired by females. I don't know if this was a conscience decision by the organisers. Perhaps they think that more women than men read books. They could be right. Certainly I felt that as a man I was in a minority at all the gatherings I attended. Thank you again Off the Shelf, I look forward to next year's event with hope!