The Borderlines book festival in Carlisle had gone from strength to strength since it’s inception five years ago.
For me it’s almost a home fixture; my wife, Carolyn, is from Carlisle and her family are out in force for my early afternoon Sunday slot with Stuart Maconie.
Stuart is of course a terrific writer as well as being a walking compendium of rock music both mainstream and alternative. He had his own session on Saturday night but has kindly come back the next afternoon to interview me. I feign deep hurt at his description of me in the review of ‘In My Life’ that he did for The New Statesman as “centrist dad”. Stuart insists that it’s a compliment used to differentiate more centrist politicians from young radicals on the far left. His review was excellent and I’ve been called worse things than that.
I want to talk about Stuart’s brilliant book Cider With Roadies, which mined the coal face of music memoir 14 years ago. I compliment him on his beautiful phraseology – particularly his reference to “petrol rainbows” which were once in every roadside puddle when sanitation was poor and petrol leaked everywhere. We chat about the glory of music mixing in a bit of politics and audience participation, for a wonderful hour.
Maconie and Radcliffe is a regular fixture on my favourite music station (BBC 6 Music). I’ll listen with renewed enthusiasm following our time together in front of 250 people in Carlisle.