I got there early, but the seats were already filled up and there I was outside the tent in the sun again, and when he came my myopic eyes could only make out a blur. He was a good speaker, but his voice was rougher than I imagined. I thought he’d have the same smoothness as his prose, a sort of aristocratic eloquence, but it wasn’t that kind of voice.
He read from his work in progress, a climate-change novel which sounds brilliant so far, full of those McEwan tics, timeframe and style that I love so much. He covered about five minutes of narrative-time in twenty minutes of reading.
A woman taking an ego trip asked him if it was possible to write happiness, because (she claimed) Saturday was a failure.
‘I did it,’ he replied graciously, ‘and you didn’t like it.’
I disliked a lot of the questions throughout writer’s week. They seemed to be divided between the self-serving, the loony , the wannabe writers looking for The Secret – and, I must admit, the good. ‘Don’t let the public near a microphone. They’ll say all kinds of stuff.’
The woman saying how it was unfashionable to talk about the afterlife. All the boring old men who made speeches. We didn’t come to hear you!
I’m a grumpy old man. I believe in everyone having a voice, but I don’t necessarily like the outcome.