Thursday, January 04, 2018


I very much enjoyed my trip to Southend's famous seafront  yesterday. The plan was to link up with Festival Director Ros Green and her team who have all been working hard to create the upcoming 2018 Essex Book Festival.  As a patron of the Book Festival for many years, it is always a pleasure to catch up with the regular faces who do so much work to put together the fabulous eclectic line-up of authors, poets, dramatists, musicians, journalists, film-makers and artists who make the month of March so enjoyable.  So, yesterday's trip to Southend was perfect for me and I enjoyed my first visit to Twenty One, this new cultural venue curated by Focal Point Gallery in the town.
Ros Green at Phoenix 98fm studio Brentwood in 2017

The free programmes I promised you are now available from most libraries and there you will find more than 200 personalities who will be descending on forty venues across Essex to entertain audiences from Chelmsford to Colchester, Maldon to Southend. Even before the first official performance in Colchester, we look forward to the Festival Launch at Anglia Ruskin University on Wednesday 28 February where Billy Bragg will be presenting Roots, Radicals and Rockers, details of which, you will find in the programme.

Then, throughout March, there will be numerous fabulous performances from folk such as Henry Blofeld, AL Kennedy, Michael Frayn, Jim Al Khalili, Jenny Uglow, Nicci French, Sally Magnusson, John Crace and so many more. Again, there will be the Golden Age Crime Weekend in Southend, the burgeoning Science & Invention Hub in Chelmsford and, for the first time in our Festival annals, a most unusual trip to the  Nuclear Option Day at Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker, a place I know well as it is so close to where I live.

Syd Moore author and yours truly
Yesterday's meeting with Syd Moore, the Festival's Writer-in-Residence was fun and here we are together at Twenty One. Syd's new book STRANGE SIGHT - an Essex Witch Museum Mystery, sounds fascinating to me, especially after Syd's animated reading yesterday. I know she has many fans around Essex and will be participating in various debates, events and workshops across the county in March.  I have asked if she will find time  to come with me to Phoenix 98fm and meet our super presenter Michelle Ward whose Book Club programme is streamed around the world.  Details of the one hundred+ events in forty venues in this large county, are all to be found on the Essex Book Festival website:   Tickets are already selling well.


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