Monday, 17 February 2020

Festival diary

GERALD SCARFE drew applause and laughter from his audience with a series of his political cartoons, none getting a louder and more amused response than that of a schoolboy Boris Johnson outside Number 10.

Scarfe was accompanied by his wife of 38 years, the talented actress and cake-making queen Jane Asher.

JANE ASHER was not the only famous spouse supporting their partner at the festival.

Konnie Huq delighted a young audience with her children’s book while husband, TV and newspaper satirist Charlie Brooker, showed his gentler side looking after their children. He has local connections, having been brought up in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell.

THE festival has had people arrive by various firms of transport, from cars to bikes and boats, but top pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd trumped them all when he asked for details of local airfields so he could make plans to arrive by plane.

PERHAPS Theresa May was testing the festival waters before her appearance on Monday when she was spotted in Henley on Saturday morning.

She stopped for coffee at Caffè Nero in Bell Street.

FOR the River Readings on the theme of animals it was decided to use two songs by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann — The Gnu and The Hippopotamus — to open and close the event.

But a problem: Hobbs of Henley’s boat Hibernia could not accommodate a piano.

Step forward renowned accompanist William Godfree who knows the tunes well and promptly recorded them at his home and dispatched a CD for actors Richard Howard and Christopher Staines to sing along to.

MELVYN BRAGG only got married to his partner Gabriel Clare-Hunt last month, so imagine his consternation when shortly before appearing at the festival he found his wedding ring had slipped from his finger.

After much searching it was found in the loo in the pavilion at Phyllis Court Club, where the festival’s green room is based.

Cue much relief for the 79-year-old author, broadcaster and Labour peer.

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