Words in Walden: From Jam and Jerusalem to The Last Supper
13:40 23 October 2012
APPROPRIATELY enough, after a month’s feast of literary delights, Ross King’s account of Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ brought the Words in Walden Autumn 2012 Festival to a close.
King enthralled the audience with an account of how unwilling and unsuitable Leonardo was to paint the iconic fresco, how innovative his style was, how close the painting came to near-total destruction, and what was on the menu (bread, eels and oranges, it seems).
Less tasteful but spicier, was stand-up comedian Robin Ince’s last ever performance of his Bad Book Club show, reading from such classics as the self help diet book, What Would Jesus Eat, Crabs on the Rampage, and The Secrets of Picking Up Sexy Girls (the author begins by stressing the importance of identifying what a girl is).
The audience brought their own bad books for Ince’s appraisal - the competition winner was the Encyclopaedia of Sexual Knowledge by, unbelievably, Drs Costler, Willy and Haire.
The audience were caught up delightedly in a guessing game when children’s author and illustrator James Mayhew and the Uttlesforde Orchestra collaborated to provide musical and poetic clues to the animals Mayhew was painting on stage. The paintings were raffled and not only did 16 lucky children go home with Mayhew’s original artworks but £295 was raised for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices. Already the audience is asking whether there will be another concert next year - organisers have said the answer is an emphatic ‘Yes!’
• Earlier in the festival the audience loved film critic Mark Kermode’s rant about multiplex cinemas, 3D and how Hitchcock deliberately included mistakes in his films (if the film was good enough, he claimed, the audience wouldn’t notice. If they did, he’d failed).
• Agatha Christie fans enjoyed her grandson’s account of his grandmother’s 1922 world tour, revealing her to have been almost as fine a photographer as she was a writer.
• Clare Mulley’s biography of Christine Granville, ‘The Spy Who Loved’ was every bit as enthralling as any James Bond movie.
• Jane Robinson proved to an audience of 50 women and 3 men that the WI, “the curse of a married man’s life”, always was and still is a force to be reckoned with, defying all attempts to stereotype its members.
• And Rob Macfarlane spoke lyrically and movingly to a packed auditorium about how important it has always been for humans to walk and talk (to tell stories on journeys).
A spokesman for the festival said: “Thank you to all our speakers, audiences, volunteers, our hosts, Dame Bradbury’s School and Friends’ School, and everyone who helped to make the festival such a pleasure.”
There’s already an exciting line up for March 2013 including: Dr Jonathan Miller, Professor David Crystal, Boris Johnson’s father, naturalist and environmentalist Stanley Johnson, ex SAS surgeon Richard Villar and The Great American Song Book - an evening of music from Rodgers and Hammerstein, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter and others.