No, this isn't the start of a joke from the seventies. If there is a punchline it's something along the lines of 'a lot of people were entertained.'
I'm fresh back from the NAWE conference, up in York. The keynote speech from David Morley, a rebel yell to those of us teaching Creative Writing to neither know our place nor sit on our laurels, set the tone for an inspiring and stimulating few days. It's the first conference I've ever been to where I didn't miss a single session and I struggled, every time, to choose between the array of workshops and presentations on offer. I ran a workshop myself with the inimitable Pippa Hennessy and we received such a compliment afterwards from one of the delegates that I'm still glowing about it now.
The Yorkshiremen were Ian McMillan, Alan Bennett and Simon Armitage, who all came to read. What a line up, and it didn't disappoint. Ian had us all rolling in laughter and made us sing - everyone joined in and I have no idea how he made that happen, but he did. Alan's readings were witty, clever and absolutely fascinating. Simon's sense of humour was more acerbic but hit the spot and his softly worded renditions of his poetry and memoir were funny and moving. I can only apologise for writing a paragraph so full of superlatives but it's impossible not to when describing these events. Sometimes, these words can be deserved.
I was particularly struck by Alan Bennett's extracts from his diary. These were random snapshots of his life, with no real theme or purpose, except to document events that had amused or interested him. It made me think again about diary writing. It made me think about blogging, too, and capturing moments of your life, just for the hell of it. It inspired me to set up a new blog.