Sign up to our newsletter

Follow us…

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Story-shaped festival world where man eats dog and comic bounces golf ball

According to biographer Alister McGrath, C S Lewis said that a writer is not a spectacle to be ogled but rather, a pair of specs through which readers are invited to see the world afresh.

The basis for Lewis’ Narnia stories was that we live in a story-shaped world. It’s the stories we tell that help us get nearer to the tricky truths in life. Furthermore, they help us find a way to live a life that is both principled and questioning, even if we do not have everything sorted out.

Adventurer Benedict Allen certainly did not have everything sorted out when, as a blond young Englishman, he headed solo deep into the Amazon jungle, got chased by machete-wielding bandidos, and found himself starving and alone in the jungle’s heart of darkness with only a limping little dog for company. As they both got hungrier and hungrier, they eyed each other up as food, despite being best friends. But in the end, Benedict felt that he owed it to his family more than his four-legged friend to stay alive, so had dog for dinner, and survived.

From the tropics, he went to the Arctic, where once again canine companions were key. Real bonds were created with strong furry creatures that he gave names like Mad Jack, Jeremy, and, of course, Top Dog. They pulled sledges, some working harder than others and, despite their wolf-like looks, loved a cuddle.

Comedian and all-rounder Tony Hawks took us on journey that came as a result of friendly bets, round Ireland with a fridge and to Moldova in search of footballing tennis players. The main part of his story were the adventures of turning books into films without help or hindrance from Hollywood and high-earning actors.

The making of his second film resulted in real and meaningful connections being made in Moldova, where he has helped set up a centre for children with Cerebral Palsy. This was a comic being very serious about his work.

But then he made us laugh again, bouncing a golf ball on a sand wedge, which a member of the audience said she could do equally well. Just as well he didn’t bet on that one.

Across town, in the Central Library, Felicity Aston told how she and a team of novice skiers made it to the South Pole.

And we have made it into the second week of the twentieth Swindon Festival of Literature and are still having a terrific time.
Matt Holland
Photo credits: Richard Wintle – Calyx Multimedia