Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Du Maurier Festival
So much happened yesterday it’s difficult to believe it all packed into one day. We went to the Daphne du Maurier festival in Fowey in stunning weather. For those of you haven’t been, Fowey is one of the most beautiful places in Cornwall and yesterday it looked like the setting for your favourite novel – whatever it may be. The sea sparkled, the sun shone and Fowey’s special magic enveloped us all.
We went to hear Salley Vickers talk and she turned out to be a very fluent, fascinating speaker who uses her hands and arms a lot to illustrate points (a trait that I like). She’s tall and slender with a most engaging smile, rather like Renee Zellwegger, with those same cheekbones.
Salley discussed how she writes, her novels to date and various themes and read a bit from her most recent novel about to be out in paperback next month. She also pointed out that us writers never read our novels like readers to – in a relaxed fashion, for enjoyment. We’re always editing and looking at them with a critical eye, so it’s no wonder that readers see things in our books that we don’t. We’re far too close to them.
After the talk, which kept us all enthralled for well over an hour, we had a picnic and made our way down to Readymoney Cove to see what had happened to my friend Jane’s old cottage. As we walked down the hill my footsteps quickened and I had a horrible feeling – turning the corner, I saw the cottage with a plastic shute hanging down from the bedroom into a skip. Getting closer, we peeked inside and saw rubbled walls, the shell of a bathroom. A ghost of a house.
I felt sick, but was confronted by a friendly builder who told me that the house had been sold to a very nice family from Bath who want it for their family. While I’m glad it is to be a family holiday home, it still means it will be a second home. Something Jane would have hated. Still, at least hopefully it will be loved and used and maybe the family will pass it down as they grow up and generations of families will love it. Maybe.
I ran up into the woods after that, partly because I had to be by myself for a minute to absorb all this, and partly to take pictures for Arthur goes into the woods to practice his cornet. The green lushness of the spring trees was soothing and took me inside myself, to a place where Jane’s house was still intact, where her lover lived inside it and there was no danger of it being destroyed. Fiction is a powerful, restorative thing.
We then made our way back into town where we met my distant cousin Richard Kittow who has a fabulous butcher there and he told me about his side of the family, also buried at Altarnun. They gave up mining to become farmers then started hawking their cattle around and he has carried on with the butchery business ever since. A fluent talker, Richard would have chatted all day I think if I hadn’t had a nudge in the ribs to remind me that the car parking ticket was about to expire.
We got home and Himself suggested going for a drink at Gylly Beach to celebrate the beginning (and end I fear) of summer, and had a glass of wine watching everyone enjoying the last of the sunshine. All in all, a wonderful day, and Himself is delighted as he thinks The Lip is improving. I think he’d been at the gin, but nonetheless I do hope he’s right.