To See Clearly . . .

To Wigtown again for a noon start after an extremely slow and tedious drive along the A75 in a long caterpillar of card behind a very slow moving lorry. Our aim was a talk by Dr. Suzanne Fagence Cooper on Ruskin and his work as an art critic. In her words, Ruskin raised art criticism to the status of an art form – or words to that effect. There were no sub-titles this time, but I had seen the hearing loop symbol on display on the wall of the room, so after a little fiddling about with my hearing aid I heard most of what was said quite clearly. And, this is the first time in years of hearing aid use that I have found a hearing loop system that actually worked !

Scan from the Festival programme

Dr. Cooper, as you can see above, has written a book called “To See Clearly : Why Ruskin Matters” and I think she made a very good case for her thesis. Unfortunately, in her enthusiasm she had prepared too much material, to which she added occasionally with asides, so that although she did not exceed her allotted time, she spoke at such a rate as to gobble her words and not allow what she had said to sink in a bit.

I expect that that sounds a bit harsh, but it is a case of “been there, seen that, done that”. I have myself taught in the classroom, and done a deal (too much) of public speaking and teaching others about it, and the tendency to put too much in and gabble is common to us all. What seems to the speaker like such a long pause that the audience must think they have forgotten what comes next is to the audience (if they are still awake) is “Hmm, yes, I see” time – hopefully.

The Book Festival is an amazing thing. It has grown from small beginnings, but now when you arrive the first problem is to find somewhere to park – for Oldies, somewhere to park from which you can walk to your destination. The talks we have attended this year and last have been well attended with a pretty well full venue each time, and people willing to join in with questions at the end. And as you leave the next audience is patiently queueing outside. And this, plus side events, goes on for 10 days. When the time comes to find something to eat – there are many eating establishments in Wigtown – we generally go a few miles away as Wigtown itself soon fills up.

On this occasion we drove back as far as Newton Stewart and went into the “Crown” opposite the cattle market and ate in the bar. We have only been in the dining room previously. The bar was surprisingly empty, but of course it was well past most peoples’ lunch hours. It is also good to say that the barmaid cum waitress who dealt with us all was very nice to deal with and whizzed about like a two year old. I had a pint of Belhaven called “Twisted Thistle” (who thinks up these names I wonder ?) which was good, followed by battered haddock and then Cream of Galloway ice cream and coffee. After which we tottered out and came home via the KBT Pharmacy where we collected our various medicines.

About The Author

Born 9 December 1933. Former Royal Air Force person. Retired Church of England Clergyman. Father. Grandfather, and now, Great Grandfather. Citizen of "Nowhere" acccording to my ex-Prime Minister. Citizen of Europe according to me. Fervent Remainer. Thinks that Members of Parliament and especially Ministers of the Crown, who lie to Parliament should be barred from any sort of public office until a public recantation - three shots, then out for life.
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