It's not just a book thing!
Alex Warlow reports on the special events that took place on Friday night.
The spectacular weather on Friday evening meant that just walking around the grounds of Castle Cornet would have been memorable enough, but the events staged at every corner of the grounds made it truly special.
Chalked up blackboards led hundreds of islanders to performances and workshops from talented volunteers, suitable for all ages. Happy children and families set up picnics and enjoyed the sun while being able to watch class acts such as bands The Recks and The Space Pirates of Rocquaine. Both comprised of local musicians, The Space Pirates in particular paid homage to Guernsey with their lyrics inspired by folklore. The grounds beneath the clock tower provided a perfect setting with its glistening St Peter Port backdrop.
Costumed players read from history and fiction works to intimate audiences in the open, in keeping with the evening’s theme of ‘Fact and Fable’. Children could dress up, hear stories in medieval-style tents and even visit Rapunzel in her tower.
Great credit is due to all of the volunteers for keeping well and truly in the spirit of the occasion, particularly the great wizards underneath their robes and beards all evening.
Robert Rankin gave a talk in the Hatton Gallery later on, with all his wild eccentricity he was almost as unbelievable as the fantastical characters in costume. We were assured though, that all of his anecdotes, including scalding Freddie Mercury with hot coffee and teaching him chess, were absolutely true.
The fans of his ‘far fetched fiction’ were enamoured and he was more than happy to talk to them extensively at a book signing. Reassuringly he gave some advice for would be writers, all you need is a suit, good shoes, a pen and a mad father.
Many of the revellers from the castle made it up to a packed Fermain Tavern for the next round of entertainment. Poet Luke Wright appeared alongside two bands rocking into the late evening. Tim Dowling made another appearance, this time as banjo player for Police Dog Hogan, who played suitably arresting blues and folk. The room began to look like some strange folk aerobics class as everyone enthusiastically joined in with the knee slapping and toe tapping. One song though was prefaced by the tale that inspired it, of the only Scotsman on the D-day landings, highlighting the importance of literature in music and vice versa.
The Black Kat Boppers rounded off the evening with drawling bee-bop inspired rockabilly. Enigmatic frontman Ray Phillips was literally vibrating with intensity and it was impossible to take your eyes off of him.
It was a riotous end to day one, seguing into day two, of a brilliant Guernsey Literary Festival.