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Curious Arts Festival 2018: Saturday

A photograph of Georgina and Peter Godwin

Disclaimer: I was invited to cover this festival on a press pass.

Saturday began bright and early, the first of the two full days of the festival. In the Drift tent, nearest the house, festival mainstay Georgina Godwin introduced her brother, Peter Godwin, for a discussion about their childhoods in Zimbabwe in the context of Peter’s memoirs.

The world of Peter’s memoirs is one that people from those times would recognise; Peter noted that the Rhodesia of before looked different to other places on the African continent, that some said it looked like Scotland. That world has now disappeared; since the wars, everything has changed. Peter and Georgina were both exiled by the Zimbabwean government, Georgina for being part of a radio station that supported an opposing view, and Peter due to his writings about the regime. Georgina left thinking she’d be in the UK for 6 months; it’s been 17 years.

The siblings’ older sister and her husband were killed in a Rhodesian ambush; their next door neighbour also. Peter was accepted at Cambridge but was conscripted for the army in Rhodesia. He postponed his offer, finally going to Cambridge with 6 days in between the start of his classes and his time at war. Many white Zimbabweans came and went in 1980. By the end of the war, 1 in 4 white men were dead; the relative number of those killed exceeded the numbers for WWI.

A photograph of Dolly Alderton and Paul Blezard

When the siblings’ father died, only Peter could attend the funeral, and getting a funeral proved very difficult. After failing to get something relative to their father’s background (they had found out quite late in their time with him that their father was a Polish Jew), Peter asked a group of local Hindus if they would cremate him; there was no gas at the crematorium. The Hindus said that the father would have to convert, which of course stumped Peter as his father was dead. (Humour was found in death.) But due to Hindu beliefs on the cycle of life, this was possible and Peter was able to give his father a good send off.

Next up in the Drift tent was another literary talk, this time between broadcaster and now writer Dolly Alderton, and Paul Blezard. The subject was Dolly’s book, Everything I Know About Love, which Paul summarised as being about ‘the honesty of growing up and learning from it’. This particular memoir is about a time in Dolly’s life that was, at the time of writing, coming to a close. She believed it was important to talk about it.

A photograph of the Little Grape Jelly poetry collective

As a teenager, Dolly had wanted to spend time with adults rather than her peers; she’d prefer to be 80 than 14 again any day. During her teens she was a goth, wearing black as a protest against… well, she didn’t know exactly, but she did know she wanted meaning in her life, which she felt she didn’t get as she lived in a privileged London suburb.

Dolly worried about writing about alcohol, sex, and drugs, due to the ways people view women differently to men in this respect, but she isn’t ashamed of having glamourised that lifestyle, saying that moderation is the majority’s experience.

A photograph of Simon Evans

Of social lives she said that the problem with prioritising romantic relationships is that we know how to keep that spark going whereas we don’t know so much about how to keep friendships going; friendships can be harder work. She wishes she hadn’t spent her youth trying to make people happy; she was desperate for people to like her and views this action now as a way to try and control the world around you when you’re young.

Of therapy and depression, she said that examining ‘your stuff’ is becoming more and more a part of being human, and that 90 percent of people who are being difficult are in pain. Her advice to young women is to hold friendships close; being able to talk about your own past is very important.

Popping outside the main festival area, I joined for a time the poetry performance by Little Grape Jelly, three friends whose written collection is composed of emails in verse they wrote to one another, each person taking the theme of their email a piece of the one they were sent. It is an interesting concept that yielded a lot of variety. They called their collection Hell-p me. Their emails are posted as screenshots on their website.

A photograph of John Newman

The comedy on Saturday was headlined by Simon Evans who said he hadn’t had much time to prepare but made us laugh for a good while as he recounted the effects on ordinary life when you’ve injured yourself – he was in a leg brace. Bringing spilled teas, cats, and the forgetfulness that comes from too much to think about into the mix, he brought his jokes round in a circle, in turn bringing a nice uniqueness to the comedy evening.

In the music tent, after opening acts Outlya and Flyte, John Newman took to the stage, having very recently arrived back from his stag party in Ibiza, as he told us with pride. Dressed up for the occasion he performed an excellent set, wowing the festival goers who had decided to join him – most of them!

As I trundled my way back to the entrance late into the evening, a few music sets could be heard; Curious always providing more than one option, keeping the party going and the spirits flowing long into the night.

 
 

Carmen

August 6, 2018, 9:50 pm

Great coverage, Charlie! It seems the festival was nourishing for book lovers and fun for everyone. :-)

Tracy Terry

August 7, 2018, 3:10 pm

How wonderful that you got to cover what sounds like a fascinating and varied event.

Charlie

August 9, 2018, 11:54 am

Carmen: Thank you! Yes, it was very nicely varied. My favourite was day 3 which I’ll be posting about soon.

Tracy: It was fun!

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