Ian McMillan dodges toppling towers of books to tell us what's in store for the new season of The Verb
The last Verb of the season is just before the Proms, halfway through July and then, although I present a few events in the Proms Literary Festival, I don’t have a weekly commitment through the Summer; so I say thank goodness for the Proms Literary Festival, because if it wasn’t for those little islands of learning in the months without an ‘R’ in them, my brain would turn to mush.
Having to read books and new writing for The Verb really sharpens me up intellectually and linguistically; when the programme takes a break my literary muscles inevitably slacken off a bit, but now, with the programme returning this Friday, September 17th, I’m back in training, and padded bags full of books are crashing through my letterbox every day.
The Verb’s got a packed Autumn; as well as our regular weekly shows, recorded in the studio on the 5th floor at Broadcasting House, we’ve got live shows at the Radio Theatre, a show at this year’s Freethinking Festival at The Sage Gateshead, a pre-Free-thinking (there must be a better way of saying that!) live show as part of the Durham Book Festival, and a Prison Writing Special, with new writing and a prison visit by Verb regular Toby Litt.
As the books begin to arrive, I tell myself that I really must do something about our spare room, which has become a kind of book room, with tottering towers of books everywhere; occasionally in the middle of the night one of the towers falls down and I rush out of bed thinking we’ve been burgled but of course it’s a few volumes of obscure Eastern European verse or a first novel or a collection of short stories by an older author who’s recently been rediscovered.
I’ll read them all before Christmas, I promise. Well, most of them...