This weekend I was mostly hanging out in my hood catching up with friends and listening to some inspiring speakers at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival. London really comes into its own in the summer and the SLF generally marks the start of the good weather and makes me fall in love with my neighbourhood all over again. Twenty five+ years and counting and I doubt I will ever live anywhere else. Despite the ridiculous house prices and recent influx of bankers, the area remains true to its dissent roots and still feels like living in a village in the city, but without the Conservative voters!
The Unitarian Chapel on Newington Greenis one of England’s oldest Unitarian churches and has had strong ties to political radicalism for over 300 years. Its one of London’s oldest nonconformist place of worship and early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft was a regular attendee at the chapel, so it seemed a fitting venue for a chat with one of my favourite authors Fay Weldon.
I feel really lucky to have either met or seen some of my female icons over the last few months, Kate Bush, Tracey Thorn (more of her to come) and now Fay Weldon – it’s strange how moving it can be to be in the same room as someone who has had a huge influence on you life.
I can’t tell you a great deal about what Fay Weldon talked about as I was so enthralled by her – and she was very softly spoken so you had to really concentrate to hear her – but it felt like listening to a wise feminist elder and I really wish I had taken teen daughter to see her rather than Polly Vernon (again more of her later)!
Fay is now in her ninth decade and has been writing fiction for five of those, in a career spanning 34 novels, numerous TV dramas, radio plays and theatre plays. Her work has caught the imagination generations of feminists with her portrayal of the turbulent lives and loves of contemporary women. She talked to Alex Clark about her latest book Mischief, which is a collection of her favourite short stories and includes a new novello, The Ted Dreams.