Chris Wadsworth
Percy Kelly - Looking East to the Ennerdale Fells
Writer and Art Consultant

23rd March 2015


Just recovering from an action-packed ten days at Words by the Water in Keswick. I learned and read  and socialised so much that my brain hurts and has had to go into the recovery position - except there’s now an unstable heap of books by the bed that may come crashing down any moment!

Helen Macdonald was riveting talking about grief and  Mabel her Goshawk. I’ve just read her book – H is for Hawk – and  stayed awake half the night to finish it. It’s not a promising subject if, like me you’re not into raptors but this is what happens at the festival. Salley Vickers reading from her new book of short stories with the uninviting title - The boy who could see death - also  made it a ‘must read’ so it is next on the heap now.

It’s a curious thing but I kept stumbling into unlikely subjects and found them fascinating. Friends I met afterwards said the same thing. I wasn’t falling over myself to chair Charles Spence, a food technologist. I’d heard him on the radio  talking about spoons but his talk on food psychology was frighteningly good. We are apparently influenced by external factors such as light, music, noise, colour as well as taste when we eat. Some of it is very weird (like wrapping cutlery in rabbit skin to accompany a rabbit dish)- ugh - but it makes you think.

And at last I’ve got the answer to a question that has puzzled many people. Why did Michael Buerk  the originator of Band Aid and The Moral Maze allow himself to be pelted by cockroaches, crawl among snakes and be dressed up as a big bird on a clothes line shouting Hanky Panky on I’m a celebrity get me out of here? The answer is the money! But he did go on to give us an erudite presentation on the unreality of reality television.

Art, food, Italy, Indian railways, fashion. Philosophy, poetry, books. From wild running to fish and chips, stationery to politics - it all came together in one place orchestrated by those clever Words by the Water people. They make it seem effortless but of course it can’t be. Thank you Kay Dunbar, Stephen Bristow and the WWW team for making life full of surprises


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