Sunday, November 14, 2021

Louder than Words Festival, Manchester

What a great thing, to be invited to speak about She's at the Controls at Louder than Words! It was worth bringing out my best dress, the parachute dress, made by Debbie Little, for an excursion. Manchester yesterday was sunny, busy and excited about the festival too. 

I got there in time for Zoe Howe's interview with Lesley Chow, who was joining the festival online in Melbourne. I had been intrigued by the reviews of Lesley's book that I'd read, and the interview was such a fascinating insight into so many parts of the book that I went straight to the stall and bought it afterwards. It is a discussion of music and singing that I think the students I'm teaching will also enjoy (part of last week's lecture was on Elvis's singing style, his yarrups, and Michael Jackson's trademark hiccups). Zoe is a musician as well as an author and her interviewing style reflects her own insider knowledge of music- and also her humour. I loved the way they talked about girl fans being predictors of future success for recording artists- just follow the screams!

My talk was about an hour later, and I had the opportunity to meet Roisin Dwyer beforehand, who is a music journalist from Dublin. Roisin's questions covered the wide span of issues that I wrote about in the book, and it was a proper conversation. There were some interesting questions from the audience, and it was great to see Cazz Blase there, and also Darren-from-Bolton, who I wasn't expecting at all. I played some songs afterwards chosen for their Saturday afternoon friendliness, and they seemed to go down well. It was altogether a relaxing experience, one where I felt it was worth all that stress of 'writing when I didn't feel like it', which I'm sure  a lot of authors go through. I can't believe I actually finished it, after ten years, but there you go. It got me to this lovely festival, and it was worth it just for that.

After catching up with Cazz and Darren (pizza and coffee in Home, where Gina and me showed Stories from the She-Punks a couple of years ago when Covid was just a nasty twinkle in a bat's eye), I went back for John Robb's chat with Jordan. Again the conversation was relaxed, warm and funny: Jordan spoke about the attention to detail in the forthcoming Danny Boyle film based on Steve Jones' memoirs, for which she is a consultant. She has a very clear memory of the time as well as being an entertaining raconteur; there were descriptions of the process of making props and filming in the old London Weekend Television building where 'that' interview happened, combined with a little edge of band talk that gave it a frisson of the edginess of punk times.

I wish I had been able to stay for more (I think the poetry started at 8.30 a.m. this morning so it was another full day of events). I bumped into a lot of people that I knew and it was nice to see Daniel Rachel, who is now writing book on Two Tone, but unexpectedly I had to come home this morning. Lesley's book is beside me, ready to read.

One final thing: the festival was tremendously well organised. Hats off to John Robb and Jill Adam for putting on this yearly event, to Roisin Dwyer for being a grade A interviewer, to the volunteers who were so helpful and welcoming, and last but not least, the sound engineers (of course) who were absolutely brilliantly helpful and good at their jobs.

And I finally got to eat the other half of my chocolate biscuit (in-joke!).

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