Let me say right upfront what a delight William Dalrymple was to interview. Charming, eloquent and fun, he was happy to free range over any number of topics – India, libraries, his home and his writing. You can read a transcript of my interview with him on the Christchurch City Libraries website.
However, to get the full flavour of a Dalrymple encounter you need to visualise the event as a piece of street theatre. This man does not sit still – ever. In the thirty minutes I had with him he ate biscuits, drank coffee, water and juice, threw himself about the room fetching and carrying for both of us whilst tossing conversational gems over his shoulder. I scurried about clutching my Marantz all the while trying to remember Richard’s instructions about sound quality. Such a pity we never caught it all on film.
Suffice it to say that by the time he left to meet up with Josie his “minder” (who used to be an NLA by the way), he was on a caffeine and sugar high. He left the room exhorting me to “Eat, Drink, Help Yourself!” I pressed the stop button on the recorder. Heaven help the next interviewer was all I could think.