Saturday, 11 October 2008

NOT: Kate Summerscale at Living Literature Society, Dickens House

For the first time in HOT OR NOT, I have chosen to split this event into two parts, because I had completely dichotomous experiences at the same event.

Part 1: I had found the Living Literature Society via Time Out and thought that the idea was really interesting - they organise live literature readings or theatrical events, often in historical locations. London is perfect for this, of course, as it was the home of many great writers such as Dickens, Conan Doyle and the Bloomsbury set. So when I was told about their event with Kate Summerscale (ex- literary editor of the Telegraph) at Dickens House, I decided this would be a great opportunity to visit the historical home, hear an award-winning author speak and maybe meet some like-minded literature-reading people. I purchased "The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or the Murder at Road Hill House" and set aside the whole of Saturday to finish it - luckily this impressively researched non-fiction book was an interesting and easy read. The first half of the evening was quite enjoyable as Kate was a lovely, articulate woman and the dim library of the Dickens House was wonderfully atmospheric for her talk. However, the evening headed downhill with the unappetising dinner at the Novotel. While I had expected to hang out with a bunch of pensioners on a Saturday night, I found myself hemmed in the corner with a man of the unfunny, pompous 'chocks away, old chaps' tweed-wearing variety, banging on about how global warming was a myth. I also hadn't anticipated that some of the attendees were treating the evening as a quasi singles-night for over 60s and that I'd get hit on by an old, and obviously lonely, man. It left me feeling quite depressed and slightly sordid.

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