Sunday, 26 February 2012

Telling tales

The tale of how CBe came about is told (by me, and not for the first time) in the Freelance column in this week’s TLS. Everything in there is true (except maybe for the bit about being mugged by crabs; but I did go into the sea with my wallet and come out without it), but I’m well aware of how all tale-telling mythologises, of how all tales are selective versions.

And this week – the one in which he turned 70 – seems an good moment to offer thanks and good wishes to Hugo Williams, whose occupation of the Freelance column has been so regular over many, many years that it would be easy to take him for granted. The pleasure he’s given, and the manner in which he’s done so, deserve more than that. More, please.

The above picture is of the bookshop-in-a-greenhouse at the Wapping Project on a summer evening, when they have outdoor film screenings. Miha Mazzini, author of The German Lottery,* will be reading there on Thursday, 5 April. Miha is a film-maker as well as a novelist, and because he has more faith in the English weather than I do he’ll be bringing some of his short films.

* Set not in Germany but in 1950s Yugoslavia, and a political satire to boot, but with a main character who is a young postman (who is seduced on his rounds by a woman hanging out her washing in a high wind) and altogether funnier and more kind-hearted than you might expect, and a snip at £7.99.

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