For the last seven years, my reading group has organised a Literary Supper. We invite a speaker and ask them to speak for about half an hour, usually about their writing life and then we have supper. One of our number organises a quiz which we distribute round the tables and that gets people talking. So far we have had some wonderful speakers. We started with the crime writer, Francis Fyfield, who I got to know when I was a solicitor in private practice in London and she worked for what was then the Metropolitan Police solicitors.
After that we had Tim Heald, who writes both crime novel and biographies. By then I had begun the creative writing MA at Exeter University so I persuaded Sam North, who was long listed for the Booker Prize for his novel ‘The Unnumbered.’
Philip Hensher was also teaching on the course and he came to speak just after his novel ‘Northern Clemency’ had been shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
It was a bit hard to follow that, but we then had a very unusual speaker. Peter Goodchild was a TV producer with a particular interest in science and scientists and he talked about the Television series on Oppenheimer and how the script was written.
Last year I had been to CrimeFest in Bristol and met Rebecca Tope, another crime write and she came on route to delivering two pigs (she has as small holding as well as writing) to a local farmer. The next one is at the end of this month, and we have invited Helena Drysdale who writes fascinating travel books.
To begin with we did the supper ourselves mainly courtesy of Marks and Spencers, but last year and this we are having it at the Sheldon Centre and they do the supper for us using their home-grown vegetables. Most of the organising is down to me. I invite the speaker, do the publicity, print the tickets, collect the money and then pay the speaker and the caterers. Every year I swear I will not do it again, but it’s so popular that I can sell 50 tickets without much difficulty and everyone says how much they enjoy it and look forward to it. I guess I’m stuck with it. Anyone want to be the guest next year?