Sunday, 17 November 2019

Are you sitting comfortably? Tracy Darnton

A short blog this month about the pleasure of being read to as an adult …

On a chilly Autumnal evening, I attended a fund-raiser for local charity, Read Around Bath. Their tagline is ‘Bringing people together through reading’ and they run various groups including ones in care homes, a GP-referral group, and a night shelter. They aim to encourage a love of reading for people in challenging circumstances, and along the way relationships and communities are built. You probably have similar charities in your own area.

The evening was a selection of readings ranging from ones I know well: Roald Dahl’s Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Keats’ ode To Autumn (season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – very apt), and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, to work I hadn’t heard before but was very glad to discover, such as a Vincent Van Gogh letter or Juliet Nicolson’s The Great Silence.

I loved hearing a mix of prose and poetry, fiction and non-fiction, reflective prose and laugh-out loud humour. And the event was blessed with a fantastic cast of readers and warm hosting by Bel Mooney, the charity’s patron. But, as I sat there, I pondered why we don’t have more evenings like this – where we’re able to enjoy a selection of readings, not as part of a promotional book tour (ahem!) but for the pure love of it. 

There’s pleasure to be had in an idle moment of how you’d curate such an evening. Which favourite authors? Themes? Which poems do you still remember from childhood?

Or do you have someone you like to read aloud to already? I like A Little Aloud compiled by The Reader Organisation which has extracts and poems grouped by theme or topic with some gentle reading notes – and timings. With a spare 14 minutes you could pick the Saki short story from the Ghastly Children section and follow it up with a Hilaire Belloc poem.

If I’ve whetted your appetite for a selection of readings, get yourself a cup of tea, turn off the phone and listen to the few episodes available of With Great Pleasure on Radio 4.

And let’s have more evenings of readings for all of us to feed our souls, to inspire us to get reading, or writing, and to enjoy the companionship of sharing a story.

Tracy Darnton is the author of The Truth About Lies, shortlisted for The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2019. She has an MA in Writing for Young People.



Penny Dolan said...

Looks like a nice little anthology, Tracy, and a very, very nice idea. Thanks for this post.

Moira Butterfield said...

That sounds like a good evening! I would love to go to something like that. Very soothing. I will look up the charity.

Anne Booth said...

What a good idea!