I came back from a whirlwind week in Abu Dhabi at the end of April to even more of a whirlwind month in May.
May is the month of fairs and festivals, and RHS Chelsea is a key date in our calendar. Rather than dealing with the show itself this year – which has attracted the most extraordinary amount of media attention – our energies were focussed on Director General, Sue Biggs. It’s now almost four years since Sue arrived at the RHS and in that time she has made some major changes to the charity to inspire more people to garden and get involved with horticulture either as a past time or a profession.
We were then off to the West Country to wallow in the mud at Hay. Some of our clients there included ShoaLan running a masterclass on Chineasy and the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction. That honour this year went to Edward St Aubyn for his satirical novel Lost For Words for which he was presented with a jeroboam of Bollinger and a locally-bred Gloucestershire Old Spot pig. The pig has been named after his winning novel and joins a long line of exotically-named pigs, including Snuff, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, and All Fun and GamesuntilSomebody Loses an Eye…
If you’re in Hay this weekend do look out for the inaugural lecture for the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction in which our 2013 winner, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, will be talking about her winning book The Pike and a talk by authors of The Fourth Revolution, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.
While Matt was wrestling with the mud and the pig, Truda and I were enjoying the tranquillity of the Charleston Festival. Their outstandingly good 2014 programme included the announcement of the first ever Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize which will award an individual of any nationality working in the spirit of John Maynard Keynes’ work, life and legacy. Keynes wrote The Economic Consequences of the Peace whilst staying at Charleston so it was a brilliantly fitting occasion and announcement.
And while we’re on the subject, look out for news of the 2014 Agatha Christie Festival which will be taking place in early September in Torquay. It’s a must for all lovers of crime fiction and again taking place in the most beautiful setting.
Books continue to play an important role in our lives. Jeffrey Archer is this week celebrating his eleventh week in the top ten with Be Careful What You Wish For, the fourth in his Clifton Chronicle series. After decades in the same iconic building Foyles is moving just a stone’s throw down the road to a new flagship at 107 Charing Cross Road, the spacious former home of Central Saint Martins.
We’ve picked up some lovely new projects over the last four weeks of which you’ll be hearing more in the coming months. The Prince’s Drawing School is expanding; Totally Thames will see the Thames Festival stretching from Hampton Court to Dartford this September; The Crafts Council has an exciting new Innovation Programme in the pipeline; and we’re going to be working the Imperial War Museum on a couple of significant WW1 projects. More on all of this in due course.
Meantime the campaigning team are gearing up for the The Times Cheltenham Science Festival next month as well as Adult Learners’ Week mid-June which celebrates the transformational power of lifelong learning through activities and events. Run by NIACE, the week demonstrates the personal and professional benefits of adult learning and is backed by hundreds of supporters, partners and funders.
More next month!