This is a linguistic almanac offering a word or phrase linked to every day of the year. From 1 January to 31 December, the reader will discover a curious coinage or a fascinating etymological fact linked to that particular day:
‘That experimental cocktail you've been making from ingredients at the back of your lockdown cupboard – it’s a quarantini.’ and ‘The unintentional eating of an entire packet of biscuits – that’s a snaccident’.
Word Perfect is full of facts and histories that will enlighten and entertain everyone. For example, 'stealing someone’s thunder' had theatrically literal beginnings.
Susie Dent recently celebrated 25 years as the resident word expert on Channel 4's Countdown as well as on the show's comedy sister 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. She is a columnist for the i newspaper, Radio Times and The Week Junior, and her popular podcast Something Rhymes with Purple recently won 'Best Entertainment Podcast' in the 2020 British Podcast Awards.
It is summer in 1968, the year of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. While the world is reeling, our trio is involved in making a rackety Swinging Sixties British movie in sunny Brighton. All are leading secret lives. As the film is shot, with its usual drastic ups and downs, so does our trio's private, secret world begin to take over their public one. Pressures build inexorably – someone's going to crack. Or maybe they all will.
From one of Britain's best loved writers comes an exhilarating, tender novel that asks the vital questions: what makes life worth living? And what do you do if you find it isn't?
William Boyd is the author of 15 novels, including A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Literary Award and the Somerset Maugham Award; An Ice Cream War, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Any Human Heart, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet; and Restless, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year, the Yorkshire Post Novel of the Year and a Richard and Judy selection.
Skin, the trail-blazing lead singer of multi-million-selling rock band Skunk Anansie, is a global female icon. As an incendiary live performer, she shatters preconceptions about race and gender. As an activist and inspirational role model she has been smashing through stereotypes for more than 25 years. With her striking visual image and savagely poetic songs, Skin has been a ground-breaking influence both with Skunk Anansie and as a solo artist.
From her difficult childhood growing up in Brixton to forming Skunk Anansie in the sweat-drenched backrooms of London’s pubs in the ’90s, from the highs of headlining Glastonbury to the toll her solo career took on her personal life, Skin’s life has been extraordinary. She talks powerfully about her work as social and cultural activist, championing LGBTQ+ rights at a time when few artists were out and gay.
Told with honesty and passion, this is the story of how a black, working-class girl with a vision fought poverty and prejudice to write songs, produce and front her own band, and become one of the most influential women in British rock. It Takes Blood and Guts is co-written with music journalist, biographer and broadcaster Lucy O’Brien, who has written for Q, Mojo, The Sunday Times and the Guardian.
The Man Booker Prize Winner returns with a new chilling mystery. The year is 1957 and the Catholic Church rules Ireland with an iron fist. Following the discovery of the corpse of a highly respected parish priest at Ballyglass House – the Co. Wexford family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family – Detective Inspector St John Strafford is called in from Dublin to investigate.
Strafford faces obstruction from all angles, but carries on determinedly in his pursuit of the murderer. However, as the snow continues to fall over this ever-expanding mystery, the people of Ballyglass are equally determined to keep their secrets.
John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He is the author of 15 novels including The Sea, which won the 2005 Man Booker Prize. He is in conversation with radio and TV presenter Georgina Godwin.
Meet Lana, Judith and Catrin. Best friends since primary school when they swore an oath on a Curly Wurly wrapper that they would always be there for each other, come what may. After the trip of a lifetime, the three girls are closer than ever. But an unexpected turn of events shakes the foundation of their friendship to its core, leaving their future in doubt – there’s simply too much to forgive, let alone forget. An innocent childhood promise they once made now seems impossible to keep…
As in Never Greener, the author’s debut book, Ruth brings to novel-writing all of the heart, warmth and empathy that made her name as the co-creator of Gavin and Stacey. Her books are unputdownable, relatable and feature characters you feel you’ve known for a lifetime. Hannah Beckerman is an author, journalist and broadcaster.
A Welshman, an Englishman, a Scot and an Irish fella walk into a bar…
Well, not a bar exactly – a show. Not just any old Scot, Welshie, Irish or English bloke – four comedians. They discuss all things 2020 and attempt to grow new bonds and better understanding between nations of the British Isles, mocking themselves and each other. This live comedy hour will be a much-needed tonic for what has been an ever so slightly challenging year.
Representing England: Marcus Brigstocke is a comedian, actor, and satirist. He has worked in stand-up comedy, television, radio and
Representing Scotland: Fern Brady has appeared on 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Seann Walsh's Late Night Comedy Spectacular, The Alternative Comedy Experience, BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz, series 3 of Live from the BBC, series 14 of Live at the Apollo and on series 3 of Frankie Boyle's New World Order.
Representing Wales: Elis James is a stand up comic, actor, and host of the Elis James and John Robins Show on Radio X. During lockdown, Elis and John have been writing and co-producing The Isolation Tapes, consisting of conversations recorded in the respective homes of the two 5 Live comedians.
Representing Ireland: Neil Delamere has worked for both Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) and the BBC, in programmes such as the BBC comedy series One Night Stand, BBC radio and television panel quiz The Blame Game and RTÉ topical comedy show The Panel. Neil also presents his own show titled "Neil Delamere's Sunday Best" on Today FM.
In the north of England, Silvie and her family are living as if they are ancient Britons, surviving by the tools and knowledge of the Iron Age. For two weeks, the length of her father’s vacation, they join an anthropology course set to re-enact life in simpler times. Mixing with the students, Silvie begins to see, hear, and imagine another kind of life, one that might include going to university, traveling beyond England, choosing her own clothes and food, speaking her mind. The ancient Britons built ghost walls to ward off enemy invaders, rude barricades of stakes topped with ancestral skulls. When the group builds one of their own, they find a spiritual connection to the past. What comes next but human sacrifice?
An introduction to Black British history for readers of 12+ by historian and broadcaster David Olusoga. When did Africans first come to Britain? Who are the well-dressed black children in Georgian paintings? Why did the American Civil War disrupt the Industrial Revolution? These and many other questions are answered in this essential introduction to 1800 years of Black British history: from the Roman Africans who guarded Hadrian's Wall right up to the present day.
One of rugby’s most ferocious flankers and biggest characters, James Haskell has had an extraordinary, global experience of the game, having played for the Wasps, Northampton and England, and in New Zealand, France and Japan. After 17 years and with 77 international caps, he has a lot to say about rugby life – from pitch to pub and everywhere in between.
Throughout her career as one of the world's top athletes, Olympic Silver Medallist Annie Vernon struggled with an existential question about the purpose of sport in our comfortable, first-world society: why do we do it? What is it about our psyche that makes pushing the mind and body to their limits in order to win a foot race, a swimming race or a rowing race such a basic human desire? Having retired from competition, Annie decided to look for answers to these questions in the world of mind games. What is the psychology behind sport at an elite level and are there differences between the individual psychology required for elite team sports as opposed to individual sports?
Parliamentary Book Award-winner and Sunday Times bestseller, James O’Brien unexpectedly turns the mirror on himself in this deeply personal account of how winning arguments doesn’t mean you’re right. Revealing what he has changed his mind about and why, he shows that when everyone has an opinion, examining and changing our own views is our new civic duty in these divided times. O’Brien has made his name interrogating the opinions of his callers live on air, to well over a million listeners. From Brexit to Boris, people are used to being asked ‘what’ their views are, but when James asks ‘why’ they think what they do, he is often met with surprising and profound results. In this book airs the toxic masculinity and traditional ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude that coloured his childhood, and the therapy and personal growth that led him to question his views and continually explore new perspectives.
From assessing the cultural impact of Marvel's Black Panther, to celebrating activism in local communities; from asking how we can teach our daughters to own their voices, to reclaiming our culinary heritage, the essays in Loud Black Girls offer funny, touching and insightful perspectives on the question of ‘What’s Next?’ Two of the contributing authors, Charlie Brinkhurst Cuff and Elisabeth Fapuro, join a conversation with Candice Braithwaite, founder of Make Motherhood Diverse and author of I Am Not Your Baby Mother, a brilliantly observant and timely book about the problematically homogenous portrayal of maternity in the British media. Chaired by Sophie Williams, author of Anti-Racist Ally and Millennial Black.
From humble beginnings in Middlesex, where money was scarce but dreams were encouraged, to the award-winning godfather of electronica, Gary Numan has seen it all. His incredible story can be charted in two distinct parts – first, a stratospheric rise to success quickly followed by a painful decline into near obscurity and, second, a 20-plus year renaissance catalysed by a date with a super-fan.
Gary Numan is one of Britain’s most important and respected musical artists. He has been lauded by everyone from Prince, The Foo Fighters and Nine Inch Nails to Lady Gaga. He is considered a pioneer of electronic music and, in 2017, received the Ivor Novello Inspiration Award for song-writing.
Dylan Jones is the Editor-In-Chief of GQ Magazine and author of Sweet Dreams, charting the rise of the New Romantics, a scene that grew out of the remnants of post-punk and developed quickly alongside club culture, ska, electronica, and goth. One of the most creative entrepreneurial periods since the ’60s, the era had a huge influence on the growth of print and broadcast media, and was arguably one of the most bohemian environments of the late 20th century.
In a maternity ward on the first day of the new millennium, two very different couples, two very different mothers, await their new arrivals, neither aware that a split second decision will entwine the rest of their lives, and forever alter what they had imagined motherhood would bring. Because of You is about mothers and daughters, love and loss, mistakes and regrets and the family bonds that make us who we are.
This is writer, comedian and actor Dawn French’s fourth novel, following on from A Tiny Bit Marvellous, Oh Dear Silvia and According to Yes. Miranda Sawyer is a journalist and broadcaster
In his first and only official autobiography, music icon Elton John reveals the truth about his extraordinary life. Following on from the hugely successful and critically acclaimed epic musical fantasy Rocketman comes Me a joyously funny, honest and moving story of one of the world’s most irrepressible and flamboyant musical geniuses. And of course there is also Elton’s passion for football, expressed not least by his decades-long association with Watford FC including, at various times, owning the club, being its chairman and president.
The long-awaited autobiography from one of the most influential figures in world football. Arsène Wenger shares his experience of winning multiple Premier League titles, a record number of FA Cups, and how he masterminded Arsenal’s historic ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003-2004 and 49-match unbeaten run. He reflects on a career which changed the game in England for ever, popularising an attacking approach and changing attitudes towards nutrition, fitness and coaching methods – and towards foreign managers. Join us for this unique experience and the final Festival event before the whistle blows on our 21st Winter Weekend.
Chaired by Dylan Jones.