The first event of Saturday contained possibly the biggest name of the event as David Gilmour of Pink Floyd took to the stage with his wife and collaborator Polly Samson to discuss their song writing experiences.
David is a natural with a guitar but struggles to write lyrics for his songs, and was described as a difficult school child doing his homework by his wife. Polly is a natural with words, working as a journalist and novelist, so the combination was a natural progression. Polly initially feared being seen as Yoko Ono and didn’t want any credit for her lyrics, but was convinced by David to take credit for her work. David writes the songs and scats over them at which point he hands it over to Polly who listens to the song and finally puts structure to the lyrics, often drawing from the sounds David has sung or his overall impression of what the song is about. A fascinating talk, with David confirming at the end that a Pink Floyd reunion was not going to happen! He claims that Polly is a better lyricist than anyone he has worked with previously. We were treated to a variety of new songs and works in progress from the album ‘Rattle the Lock’ which was announced at the event.
The second talk I attended featured war journalists Anthony Loyd and Ben Anderson with the discussion on the ‘Escalating Trade in Hostages’. Anthony had recently been captured in Syria and told the story of how he managed to escape, which was intense and very far removed from Hollywood. He has little doubt he would have been handed over to Isis had he not escaped. The talk moved onto the state of the middle east and how little intervention in the region has achieved.
Michael Cunningham was another huge name on the list and the Putlitzer prize winner talked to Sophie Gorman about his most recent book; the Snow Queen and his previous work. He told a fascinating story of the people his new novel is based on, who visited him in his New York apartment one evening.
AC Grayling was my highlight of the weekend and his talk on different schools of philosophy, and the distinction between mind and body was riveting and hilarious in equal measure. He was a natural on the stage and talked for the full hour without notes or even pauses. We were even treated to a poem in Mandarin.
Next up was the talk on ‘From Book To Screen’ featured heavy weights Ian McEwan, Michael Cunningham and Neil Jordan, with the event chaired by the equally as impressive with Grianne Humphreys (Director of JDIFF).
The final event of the day was the talk between Ben Anderson, Olly Lambert and Fintan O’Toole on ‘Reporting From The Frontline’ which dealt with new media and the movement away from conventional news sources.