Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Third time lucky for visiting veteran MP

KEN CLARKE was to be interviewed by Robert Peston on the two weekends before he came to Henley. The first time was in his home town of Nottingham and then in Cardiff but each time but he was thwarted by a road closures for a marathon. “Then I got to Henley and was told they had a half marathon — imagine how I felt,” he said. Fortunately, the organisers had scheduled his appearance for an hour after the road closures here.

PHILIP COLLINS, whose book on speech writing led to a sell-out audience, was able to diagnose Theresa May’s problem at the Conservative Party conference. The Prime Minister does not like using an autocue so reads from notes, which means she is looking down a lot of the time. That, he said, was much more likely to exacerbate a cough.

MICHAEL PARKINSON was hard to recognise because he has lost so much weight. The reason is a major back operation in the summer. His wife Mary said she tried to persuade him to explain the reason to people — and to have his suits taken in — but to no avail.

THE book queues were long at many events this year but the record was taken by Katherine Grainger, who spent 90 minutes signing all her books because she made a point of talking to every single buyer.

CHRIS BONINGTON, who is still climbing mountains at the age of 80, wrote movingly in his book about facing the death of his wife Wendy after a long battle with motor neurone disease. Loretta, his new wife of 18 months, was at the festival and said: “I go everywhere with him and we are both so happy we can’t stop smiling.”

SOME of their interviewers knew their subjects rather well. Sam Leith told his audience to be nice to Penny Junor because she was his mum. Michael Parkinson was interviewed by his son Mike.

A SMALL child, when told she was in the wrong place, replied: “What, you mean there are hundreds of little Henley Literary Festivals?”

OVERHEARD outside’s David Baddiel’s sold-out schools event at the Kenton: “Mummy said it’s an author who used to be a clown.”

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