Friday, 12 October 2012

Birmingham Book Festival: The World According to... Stuart Maconie and Caitlin Moran

As I mentioned in a previous post, for the last week I have been involved volunteering for the Birmingham Book Festival. My second event, on Tuesday 9th October, was one of the big draws of the festival, and certainly the event I was most excited about: Stuart Maconie and Caitlin Moran.

I reviewed Caitlin Moran's How To Be A Woman a while ago, and I thought it was an excellent book, hilarious and rude and feminist and brilliant. (Review here.) Stuart Maconie is one of my favourite radio presenters, and I have spent many an afternoon listening to him and Mark Radcliffe on BBC Radio 6, playing great music and engaging in some weird and wonderful conversations. I read his book Pies and Prejudice a while ago. As a result I was pretty excited to be involved in the event!

Again, my volunteer duties took up the initial portion of the evening, but once everyone had arrived and the event had started, I got to sneak in the back and watch. There was lots of conversation about growing up working class, the importance of libraries, politics, feminism, socialism, the erosion of working class pop culture in favour of kids whose parents can bankroll them being in a band... Stuart talked a bit about visiting Paul McCartney's childhood home for a documentary he's been making for the BBC for the Beatles' anniversary, and how he was overwhelmed with the idea that "this was where the world changed". As someone who is attempting to carve an academic career out of a belief in the importance of pop culture, I found this all particularly interesting: the idea that cultural revolution goes beyond pop music or television and has a much wider reach.

There were some good questions from the audience, including some discussion of women in the (media) workplace and how they were (and are) treated, which was particularly topical given this week's news about the misogynistic culture in television and radio alongside all the Savile stuff.

Even though the event was an hour and a half, I could happily have listened to both of them speak for a lot longer. If you get the chance to hear either of them speak, I highly recommend it!

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