Sunday, 05 December 2021

Campanology, cricket, covid... and oversized elephant

FORMER Labour leader Ed Miliband had just arrived at Phyllis Court Club when he saw children’s artist Rob Biddulph finishing off a signing session.

This was too much for the politician, who had been one of the millions who joined the #DrawWithRob art classes during lockdown with his children, Daniel and Samuel.

He asked Biddulph if he could have his picture taken with him and the artist obliged before signing books for the mini Milibands.

ELMER the patchwork elephant is a children’s favourite and storyteller Vanessa Woolf brought him to the River & Rowing Museum.

The task of “being” Elmer fell to svelte festival box office manager Saskia Williams. But the costume was so big that Elmer couldn’t make it through the single doors so had to change course and find a set of double doors instead.

TOM ALLEN was intrigued by Monday evening’s bell-ringing from St Mary’s Church that coincided with his event.

“What time is it — 500 o’clock?” he said. “We should have called this campanology and got an even bigger audience.”

CRICKET fanatic Peter Oborne was told just before he went on stage at Christ Church to talk about his book The Assault of Truth that he had been granted a long-awaited interview with Pakistan prime minister and former Test captain Imran Khan… just three days later.

This meant the festival team had to arrange urgent PCR tests for him while the writer, unruffled, chatted about his book.

AUTHOR Kjartan Poskitt and political journalist Simon Walters spotted the Christ Church piano and were unable to resist temptation as they treated their audiences to some music before speaking.

AFTER entertaining with tales from his memoir A Curious Boy, Henley’s own Richard Fortey was on a fungi foray in Crowsley when he came across none other than his interviewer Jon Ryan out walking his wife’s Springer spaniel.

CRISIS management is part and parcel of life for the festival
organisers.

Which is why they had to go on a petrol hunt to enable interviewer Stephen Robinson to drive back to London, tank full.

TONY LAITHWAITE, whose wine company is a festival sponsor, stepped forward to help an American woman looking for the way to the Phyllis Court Club marquee.

He told her he knew a short cut but as they went along Finlay Drive, they found the gate firmly shut. Whoops!

The Rapping Princess author Hannah Lee had children and their grown-ups on their feet to create what must be one of the few raps to be performed at the town hall.

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