April 2013: Denmark
There are good festivals and bad ones. One has to be careful. A badly-organised one, (often the case when students do the organising – they can have difficulty realising that even if you’re a writer you’re not a figment of the imagination but have normal human needs) can in the worst case land you at the back of beyond, with no bed for the night, no available food or drink, and worse, next to no audience. It has happened.
This one at Aalborg in the north of Jutland proved to be a superbly organised by Ove Rasmussen. It was a well-attended delight – the Crown Prince turned up to give it his blessing. Leading Danish writers and artists came along: also featured as an ‘art object’ was one of my books after it had been put through the washing machine and I was glad to see that it did indeed seem to contain the essence of novel. One is glad to be of use. Aalborg is a city in the middle of a positively Liverpudlian ‘regeneration’ – the hope is for it to be transformed into a modern, functioning, attractive city without destroying the charms of the old – so the cavernous former stone-and-brick power station now generates culture, rather then electricity. Same principle, I daresay. Architects and cranes and concrete mixers everywhere and literature, art and music holding its anarchic head up high.
Great to meet up with many old friends – my Danish publishers turned up. I have been publishing in Denmark for 35 years and it shows! My ancestry’s all Norwegian and Danish via Northumberland and Lincolnshire – Scandinavia is my second home, I feel. King Canute the Great died in my home town Shaftesbury and his heart was buried here, though they took away his heart and buried it in Winchester. When we remember, on the anniversary of his death, we raise a toast to him. A good and competent king, though a bigamist for political reasons – if the Pope could overlook that at the time, we can