Friday, 21 August 2009

Observations II

Where to start? The weekend was fabulous: relaxing, sunny, fun. Kilkenny was characteristically genteel, interesting, full of people and stories and spirit. The camping was easy and life thus simple; even C & W caught the bug. (Observing only that airbeds would be preferable to Thermarests for women of a certain age!)

Toibin and Murphy read from their books, took questions from the floor (of the newly opened and jewel-box beautiful Set Theatre), asked questions of each other, signed copies outside in the sun. They explored the link between the Irish prose and the Irish Music traditions. Toibin ventured that the musicality of Irish prose was what separated it from English prose. Apparently even John Banville started as a singer.

I sat with a fascinating woman who had come to live in Kilkenny from her native wee North via ten years in France. But I couldn't agree with her query to Murphy that the italicised dream scenes between his chapters were a distraction. I am finding them to be like the history sections in A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian. Deeply rooted in the events of the story as it unfolds, and intrinsic to the whole tone of the book.

It was particularly obvious that women in the audience hugely outnumbered the men. Do men not read? Do they not read fiction? The authors still appear to be in a male majority? Are the readers not?

The street theatre was good. Futter's Child was visually striking and clever, but didn't quite carry through from that effect with physical comedy or even much wit? Edmund Tahl was, however, brilliant. How he manipulated his sound system in such complete accord with his manipulation of the surroundings and audience, I don't get. But Mattman did disappear without a backward glance into the crowd of children who pursued this Pied Piper all over the castle grounds and into the castle itself! Hilarious!

And Jerpoint Abbey was impressive but still humane and if you stopped in the cloisters you could hear the whisper of chants. The suns certainly looked hard enough for St Christopher and Knight Butler, and were more than generously rewarded by the nicest custodians we've passed through this summer!

Obviously, coffee shops were much visited. N. L. Dore's remains the only place for supper- cereal for two and Irish coffees for two... - and cuckoo clocks. Pennefeather's Over The Bookshop is best for the Booth Over The Balcony for people watching, according to Jojo. And you can't really go home without a quick stop in Nicholas Mosse, to drink out of cups that you leave on the table.

Four nights of no suncream, no need for shade, and less than 3000 miles on the clock. We are surely folk of Northern climes! Same again next summer, methinks!

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