Date Posted: 27th January 2017

The postman’s kept busy at the moment delivering books by authors I’m chairing at Words by the Water - A Festival of Words and Ideas. When the programme was revealed in December, potential chairs scrambled to send in their list of preferences. The fun starts as books arrive. How to write like Tolstoy immediately took my eye. If only … I’d love to write with the elegant conciseness of Ian McEwan, the humour of Roald Dahl, the imagination of J K Rowling and the sheer brilliance of Zadie Smith. I wonder if the author Richard Cohen has the secret. I’ll find out on the first day (3rd March at 2.15)

There are lots of good things in the programme with talks by well-known figures in the world of literature, broadcasting and politics. But in past years I’ve also stumbled on people I’ve never heard of and have come away inspired with new insights. Who would have thought a talk on clouds or the history of the Alhambra cinema in Keswick could be so fascinating. See the full 2017 programme at www.wayswithwords.co.uk/festivals.

In a turbulent year with frightening revelations on an almost daily basis, you can hear controversial Guardian columnist, George Monbiot, asking How did we get into this mess? on Friday evening 10th March.(Hope he has some ideas on how to get out of it!) Or you can escape into the world of the Brontes or take a walk along the Borders with local MP Rory Stewart. There is so much on offer it makes me dizzy with anticipation. I know people who take a week's holiday from work in order to enjoy all 10 days of it with a season ticket. And it's not just about what happens on the stage -  it'salso about  the people you meet and the lively discussions that take place in the cafe and coffee shop.

Thursday 9th March is an Art and Reality day in the studio. After Jovan Nicholson’s Talking in Colour about his grandmother Winifred at 4pm, I’m leading a discussion ART - A LIFE CHANGER at 5.45pm. I have roped in a working artist as well as an art addict who goes to every exhibition and gallery he can and a supporter of the arts whose first gallery  purchase really did change her life. Of course, as an Accidental Gallerist who walked blindfold into the art world in 1987, Art has definitely changed mine.

Words by the Water runs from 3rd to 12th March at Theatre by the Lake Keswick. Bookings at the theatre box office 017687 74411 or on line at www.theatrebythelake.com