When people pick up a Ways With Words programme I want them to see lots of smiling faces. I’d be more likely to go to a festival where everyone looked cheerful than one which seemed to be full of misery guts. It’s surprisingly difficult to find writers smiling, let alone laughing merrily. Perhaps they want to appear serious, thoughtful and concerned, or maybe life is tough for writers.
James Lovelock looks very cheerful, despite thinking we’ve left global warming too late. Maybe he is thinking I’m almost 90 – not my problem.
Simon Majumdar looks in pain. Perhaps on his travels to sample food round the world he was offered snake’s kidneys – or something didn’t agree with him.
Satish Kumar looks serene; one would expect that from an ex Buddhist monk. Serenity at a festival is desirable.
Ben Crystal looks as if he is about to hug someone. Maybe he is embracing the world. No-one could object to being embraced by Ben Crystal or Shakespeare.
Prue Leith and Julia Neuberger get joint prize for being the most cheerful. They are enjoying life – hoorah.
But a lot of our speakers only manage a wan grin, sometimes this turns into a grimace. Gyles Brandreth and Paddy Ashdown should have huge grins that say, “Thank God I am not in the House of Commons at the moment.” Instead they look wistful.
On the same page I am drawn to the cheeky grins of the Wondermentalist women, Liv Torc and Beryl the Feral. They look very good fun.
Oh Arthur what’s wrong with you? Comedians are supposed to see the funny side of life. Put away your grumpy old man face. I bet his show is full of ascerbic comments on what’s wrong with the world – or MPs.
Probably my favourite photo is of Lynn Barber smoking. Smoking! How politically incorrect can this festival get? This one deserves a prize in a special category because it made me laugh.
There are many serious moments at Ways With Words when big problems like greed, inequality, environmental issues are tackled but overall it is a joyful experience to come to Ways With Words – festive in fact.
To see the smiling and unsmiling faces [and Lynn Barber smoking] phone 01803 867373 for a paper programme or download the programme from the festival page on the website.