Sunday 1 June 2014

Chocolate Box

Seeking inspiration in Dylan Thomas' writing shed. The real thing is at Laugharne but you can't go in (and actually - don't tell anybody - but even that's actually a replacement: the original rotted away)

For somebody who is irritated by literary festivals I must be a glutton for punishment for attending the Hay-on-Wye event this Saturday.

I was keen to see Lucy Hughes-Hallett speak about The Pike - Poet, Seducer, and Preacher of War, her remarkable biography of the proto-fascist Italian nationalist Gabriele D'Annunzio (1863-1938).

D'Annunzio is a fascinating subject being quite as pompous and opinionated as others of fascist tendencies but actually quite a good writer nevertheless. I have a theory that people with middle-of-the-road politics are generally much better writers and artists than both the communists and the fascists, possibly because they are more interested in humanity than daft causes and humble enough to be unsure about politics anyway. D'Annunzio seemed sure about everything - or was he? Just possibly he didn't take himself that seriously.

I wanted to ask a question on behalf of my Blog readers about whether Ms Hughes-Hallett thought her subject had a diagnosable illness which caused his strange and repellent attraction to ill and dying women and in bloodshed generally. Sadly I didn't get my chance as I was beaten to the opportunity by some of those usual arch-bores at such events who don't really have a question but want to show off that they have read the book.

Meanwhile Mrs Blog and a friend went to see Telegraph journalist Bryony Gordon puff her disgraceful new book The Wrong Knickers. They even got a picture with her, having bought the offending volume.

I don't know if it's in the book (and if not then this Blog has the dubious honour of revealing the shocking truth) but at the event Ms G apparently described an episode where her boyfriend snorted Class A drugs which had been sprinkled all over her embonpoint. To judge from Mrs B's picture he must have had quite a habit. I suppose even this behaviour pales beside that of the flamboyant Italian about whom I had been hearing - but then I didn't get my picture taken with him!

Finding inspiration in the Spanish Government's tent - they do have style, don't they, unlike the chocolate box approach of the Wales Tourist Board?