Thursday, 25 September 2008

My Letter To The Organizers of the Cheltenam Literary Festival

Being in the public eye means that I occasionally have to bow to the wishes of the people in marketing and promote products. I received a helpful reminder from the people at the Cheltenham Festival and reproduce the details here along with my reply.

Richard Madeley
Sun 19 Oct

"TV presenter Richard Madeley explores how being a father has changed over the last four generations in his uniquely honest and touching book Fathers and Sons. He joins expert and author Frank Furedi to discuss the speed of change in family life and the challenges facing fathers today".

The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2008

10 - 19 October

With its signature blend of award winning writers, world-renowned thinkers and international star names The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival is a hotbed of debate and discussion with a unique regency style. In this year’s literary line-up Man Booker Prize winners rub shoulders with the finest classically trained actors, whilst top class comedians appear alongside leading political figures. With more than 450 writers and over 350 events this promises to be an exhilarating ten day celebration of the written word.

For more information visit

Or call the box office on 0844 576 7979

And my reply:

Dear Organizers of the Cheltenam Literary Festival,

It’s so good to hear from you again. I can’t believe that the moment is so nearly upon us. I’m honoured to be headlining your festival and the thought of standing up there on the world famous Pyramid Stage leaves me quivering with excitement. And if you would like me to hang around after the festival and help you milk your cows, you need only ask. I know my way around an udder and have been fully trained in teat management.

As you know, ‘Fathers and Sons’ has taken remarkably little time to write. One moment I was writing a comedy about the Cornish herring fleet and then, lo and behold, out pops an autobiography I knew nothing about! Once I'd borrowed the title from Turgenev, the thing was done. You might say that it happened overnight and I would be very grateful if you could snag me a complimentary copy. You probably know that my debut novel was cancelled a month before publication so this time I’m certainly doing my very best to advertise your festival. There will be no repeat. Dick Madeley will see print! Even as I speak, Judy is training her troop of midget Shetland ponies to perform an interpretive dance routine based around Faulkner’s ‘As I Lay Dying’, with Denise Robertson playing the corpse of Addie Bundren. I swear that there won’t be a dry eye in the house by the time I run out on stage wearing my spandex cycling shorts. I’m also delighted that Pam Ayres has now confirmed that she’s available for the duet.

Your news about Oddie does disappoint. He was recently boasting that he attends your festival every year and was there when Shirley Bassey read from her autobiography whilst wearing Wellington boots. It is, however, very gratifying to hear that his stand selling ornamental owl jewellery is so popular with the hippies.

I hope that you and yours are well and that the current dry weather hasn’t affected milk production. Both Judy and I feel that it’s so important that we support a festival in which lactation plays such a vital role.

Best wishes,

Dick Madeley.

PS. Is it too late to change the promotional literature to include some puff about my being the spiritual successor to Conrad, a modern Nabokov, and literary heir to P.G. Wodehouse? At the very least, can you mention that my wife plays bridge with Jilly Cooper?

PPS. I’ve just visited your website and I’m astonished to find that I’m not listed on the front page. Roger Moore is a saint, a real mensch, but has he or Ben Okri ever discussed a particularly painful vasectomy on live TV? I think not. Did all my swelling mean nothing to you?

PPPS. You wouldn’t do this to Clive James.


Nige said...


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