Argon. Othello. Matisse. I’m a genius! I’ve just sailed through 3 rounds of University Challenge getting the questions right. It took me another five minutes before I realised I’d seen that particular edition before! I’m not surprised there’s not much I haven’t seen at least twice since Covid struck. I’ve watched the whole series of Line of Duty …again. I’ve been around the block or should that be dock 3 times with NCIS, know Corfu like the back of my hand thanks to the repeats of the Durrells and actually watched the same episode of Doc Martin twice last week. Don’t even mention Call the Midwife. I could now deliver a breach baby safely on a dirty warehouse floor! Then there are the films. Die Hard 1,2, 3 and 4 in fact I’ve written the outline for the script of Diehard 7 and Die Hard 6 isn’t even out yet! The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is in the lead at the moment…4 times with the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel coming in …second… with 3 viewings. Although I might watch it again tonight as there are a few classic Maggie Smith lines I’d like to perfect! Thank the lord for books with over 40% of us saying we have read more since lockdown. Sadly most of the book festivals were cancelled this year…except for Appledore. Yes, little old Appledore has just achieved what none of the big boy literary and book festivals could. We had a drive-in festival and it was a HUGE Success. It was set in spacious grounds of Skern an outdoor activity and training centre a couple of miles outside Appledore. Masked car park marshals, trustees, committee members and book festival supporters scurried around and settled everyone in place in the field, and handed out pre-ordered food. My first interviewee was Sir Michael Morpurgo, sporting his trademark red jacket and Panama hat. After a little preamble to discussing the areas, we’d cover we were ushered backstage to be mic’d up. An involuntary shudder went through me when the soundman, with a full-face mask, snapped on a pair of heavy-duty black rubber gloves. For a moment I wondered where exactly he wanted to put that mic! Moving on it was a wonderful afternoon with little ones on car roofs, their parents in fold-up chairs all socially distanced around their allotted spaces a few preferring to remain inside their vehicles. Michael held them all spellbound with tales of Warhorse, The Butterfly Lion and his latest book Boy Giant a reimagining of Jonathan Swifts classic Gulliver. 2 days later I was back with historian Susan Ronald whose own life is as fascinating as those she writes about. President Nixon taught her the F word when she was 9 and Donald Trump called her a bimbo when she tried to eject him from her office finally having to get a burly security guard to do the job. That got a cheer! Then came historian Emily Brand with a book about 3 generations of the poet Byron’s family. Forget romance this lot were an 18th century Eastenders with tales of incest and debauchery involving family members called Foul Weather Jack, Mad Jack, the Wicked Lord and an aunt who travelled Europe in pursuit of toyboy lovers! The festival brought a buzz to the whole area all made possible by Ann Juby, the committee the sponsors and the advertisers and of course the authors. Just what Doctor Michael Mosley, who was also there, might have ordered!
Now I’ve just got to find out when that edition of University Challenge is on again ..and get a few friends round.