Thursday, 6 October 2016

Church-Going & Book-Talking in Dulwich

Look right and there's Alan Johnson talking to me about his latest memoir The Long and Winding Road, at All Saints Church in Dulwich on the night of Thursday September 29. Churches are grand places to hold literary talks: the acoustics are tremendous, of course, but there's a tenor as well as a timbre that the location loans to you. Larkin put it most finely on why even the non-believer feels some instinctual piety upon crossing the threshold:
'Since someone will forever be surprising / A hunger in himself to be more serious / And gravitating with it to this ground / Which he once heard was proper to grow wise in.'
Johnson's new book is as engaging and well observed as the first two, the difference being that it finds him in the tangle of thorns that is professional politics rather than the worlds of childhood and workaday employment that were the grist of This Boy and then Please Mr Postman. But obviously he and I had plenty to talk about; and on the side he could not have been kinder on the subject of how he was getting on with The Knives.

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