Anyhow, some good friends still live there and one of them, the lovely Liz, launched the Stoke Newington Literary Festival last year. It was, to put it mildly, a resounding success.
"A literary festival that's thrown its pretensions in a skip" The Londonist"The coolest literary festival of the summer" Authonomy (eh, what?)
So, year one was fabulous but year two looks like it’s going to be even bigger and better. Hence I’m hoiking myself up to London again and taking myself for a trip down memory lane. Past the pub that banned me (totally unfair – case of mistaken identity); past the flat I used to visit on my astral travels; through the cemetery where I wafted with bits of old lace tangled through my white haystack of hair…
But don’t let the idea of my old mad molecules still floating round there put you off. Stokey is a fab place – a little hidden village in inner city London. It revels in a rich literary heritage and if gothic, supernatural, ghostly and horrific rocks your boat, you simply cannot afford not to go. But don't take my word for it: here’s the blurb.
“2011 is the second Stoke Newington Literary Festival, created to celebrate the area's long and influential literary history and to keep the spirit of radical thinking, debating and story-telling alive.
This year, we'll be shining the spotlight on some of the people that have helped put Stoke Newington on the cultural map, in particular Edgar Allen Poe and Mary Wollestonecraft. We'll also be bringing you some of the UK's most exciting debut novelists, a superb line-up of poets who'll be popping up at events throughout the weekend as well as a programme that covers ska, dissent, cycling, punk, gangs and ghosts.”There are loads of events and it most certainly isn’t Poe-faced (sorry, that was unforgiveable) – there’s tons for children (from age 3 upwards) so if you want your children to love books, this could be a way to lure them in. I’m going to as many events as I can squeeze into one weekend without going word-blind but, in particular, I’m looking forward to meeting some of my online friends who’re doing a gig on Saturday – The New Libertines at the Baby Bathhouse at 4pm.
Check out the programme. Book some tickets (but hurry, they're selling out fast). Come and tap me on the shoulder (just be warned, the waist-length white hair has gone – and thank feck for that!).
A few highlights (well, the ones I like):
Friday 3rd June: 2pm: Chainsaw Gang – have modern vampires lost their bite? Four rising children’s horror authors bite, snarl and growl. 12+ (unless accompanied by brave adult)2pm: Arsenal Story Telling Event – er, right…”fun football stories, games and riddle” – fun and football don’t sit happily together in my lexicon but hey ho…might encourage reluctant readers. 6-12 years.
4pm: In Conversation with David Walliams. ‘nuff said. Except I didn’t know he wrote children’s books. Family event.8pm: The Life and Works of Alexander Baron – his cult novel about the London underworld, The Lowlife, is considered a major antecedent to punk.
Saturday 4th June: 10am – Dr Seuss event. Including a visit from the Cat in the Hat. 5-8 years.3.30pm: The Life and Influence of Edgar Allan Poe – Poe lived in Stoke Newington and a panel discuss his work before Steven Berkoff discusses his own adaption of The Tell Tale Heart.
Sunday 5th June: 1pm: Pete Brown’s Beer and Book matching – what ale should you read while drinking Dostoevsky? Pete’s a good bloke – this should be a cracker.