After a busy afternoon and evening I think I can sum up the experience as the pleasure of taking time out to sit and listen to interesting people. The sessions I have been to this afternoon provided me with plenty to think about and the speakers were entertaining in different ways. Hamish Keith – as Philip said – not as curmudgeonly as one had been lead to expect and showing plenty of Native Wit with a lovely turn of phrase “imagining search parties being sent out from Wellington to look for a national culture” and New Zealand having a distinct cultural identity “rather like the Rakaia – many streams, one river”. Glenn Colquhoun reading his poems and talking about how “we all want magic from doctors”. He really is a most accessible poet and speaker and I think he’d be great to have as a doctor. He read from his collection Playing God which I’d really recommend.
The final fling of the evening was An Evening With Ngaio Marsh where her latest biographer Joanne Drayton and her former student and longtime friend Elric Hooper engaged in a lively session about her life and the book. I’d have to say that like my colleagues I found the studded leather gloves a bit distracting, but Elric Hooper was just being Elric, I enjoyed him and he did contribute some interesting things as someone who knew Ngaio well, as much as anyone could know such a private person. It was clear from Elric and someone else from the audience who spoke, that Ngaio Marsh made a strong impression on their lives. Incidentally, the book doesn’t have an index! though it does have an extensive bibliography. Also Joanne was perfectly able to hold her own so you had two articulate people having a really good discussion.
I began to read the book last night and I liked the way it jumped straight in to Ngaio buying some exercise books and settling down to write her first detective novel. I hope it continues to be a good read because the physical reality of the book was a little disappointing – hardback(tick) but no index (I like my bios with an index) and quite narrow margins on the page.
It was good to see the Great Hall full and all the sessions I have been to so far seemed well supported – Keep it up book lovers.