Lincoln Drill Hall

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Patrick Bishop at Lincoln Drill Hall 3 October 2017

I am lucky enough to have been invited to introduce Patrick Bishop when he speaks at Lincoln Drill Hall on Tuesday 3 October.

I first read Patrick ten years ago when I was staying in Kent. I found Fighter Boys in my host's bookcase. I couldn't put it down. To make the experience complete, I could hear the scream of a Merlin engine as a Spitfire was put through it paces nearby.

Bomber Boys was next, some years later when I was researching MacRobert's Reply. It was chilling and I could begin to understand what Don Jeffs had gone through as the sole survivor of the crashed Stirling bomber that bore the name MacRobert's Reply.

When I heard about Air Force Blue and knew that it would be a must read. I can't wait to hear him speak. Click here to book.

This is what his publishers, Harper Collins, have to say

In a return to sweeping social history of wartime, Patrick Bishop – author of bestselling Fighter Boys and Bomber Boys – explores the lives and wartime experience of thousands of men and women who served in all units of the airforce. To mark the centenary of the RAF in 2018.

Air warfare was a terrible novelty of the modern age, requiring a new military outlook. From the beginning, the RAF’s identity set it apart from the traditional services. It was innovative, flexible and comparatively meritocratic, advancing the quasi-revolutionary idea that competence was more important than background.

The Air Force went into the war with inadequate machines, training and tactics, and the early phase was littered with setbacks and debacles. Then, in the summer of 1940, in full view of the population, Fighter Command won one of the decisive battles of the struggle. Thereafter the RAF was gilded with an aura of success that never tarnished, going on to make a vital contribution to Allied victory in all theatres.

Drawing from diaries, letters, memoirs, and interviews, Air Force Blue captures the nature of combat in the skies over the corrugated wastes of the Atlantic, the sands of the Western Desert and the jungles of Burma. It also brings to life the intensely lived dramas, romances, friendships and fun that were as important a part of the experience as the fighting.

Air Force Blue portrays the spirit of the RAF its heart and soul during its finest hours. It is essential reading for the millions in Britain and the Commonwealth whose loved ones served, and for anyone who wants to understand the Second World War.


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Lincoln Book Festival 2017 - the story

The Lincoln Book Festival emerged in the early summer from a long winter, paralleling the blossoming of soaring gothic architecture from the dark ages…possibly! It actually emerged from a period of hard work seeking out interesting books and more importantly interesting authors who enjoy talking about their work.

This year, the 800th anniversary of one of the pivotal battles in English history, demanded attention. Its date of 1217 would also have witnessed St Hugh’s gothic cathedral towering majestically over hundreds of small dark dwellings in the town. This contrast between light and dark begs a gothic theme.

For the battle, I spoke to David Starkey and he suggested a broader theme of battles and dynasties. The battle though speaks also of strong women and temped us toward a look at influential queens. The thirteenth century gothic of the cathedral invited a glimpse into the gothic revival architecture of the 19th century, Sir George Gilbert Scott and our own St Nicholas Newport. That gothic revival in turn beckoned us into 19th century and later ‘scary’ gothic literature. 19th century tempted us into the Pre-Raphaelites and painting back to the Mona Lisa.

But, why history?

When we revived the Lincoln Book Festival a few years ago, we debated long what its theme should be. We had to do little more than look out of the window of the room where we were meeting to see some of the city’s Roman remains. Over the road was the Gothic Cathedral and on through the Georgian Minster Yard was the Norman Castle.

Lincoln is a place where history seeps from every stone.

The city’s origins are owed to the Romans – whose ancient city can still be seen today – and ‘Lindum Colonia’ has played an influential role in English history ever since.

In 1215, an original of Magna Carta was brought to the city and today Lincoln Castle is the only place in the world where the great charter can be seen side-by-side with an original of the 1217 Charter of the Forest. This year with the added attraction of the Doomsday Book.

Thousands of years of history can still be seen in the fabric of the city, known as the ‘Birthplace of the Tank’ due to its engineering heritage from the early 20th century.

So, history chose itself. To be honest, so did gothic as this year’s theme.

Yet, for all our wonderful speakers, what I looked forward to most was reading the shortlisted pieces of our flash fiction competition. We invited people of all ages to write a piece of gothic fiction in just fifty words. At the first evening of the Festival we will hear the winners. I can’t wait.

Details of the Festival can be found on the website 
Tickets from Lincoln Drill Hall

The Lincoln Book Festival is in many ways remarkable. Some years ago it was in effect run by the local authority and was really quite big. Then its funding vanished and a dedicated group of people fought to keep it alive. Many are still trustees and without them it simply wouldn’t be here.

Festivals need money, as indeed do charitable arts venues like the Drill Hall 

In the early days of independence the Book Festival received vital support from the Lindum Group. Since then there have been a number of wonderful and loyal sponsors.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Lincoln Drill Hall Autumn 2017

When I called into the Hall in August this was what I found
The space had been cleared for some much needed rewiring and updating of equipment and seating for which we had obtained grant funding. There is still work to be done, but we are seriously up and running.

Over the week ending 17 September we welcomed more than 2,000 people through our doors. The Gin Festival had been a sell out as had Russell Watson and we had great comedy with Phil Jupitus. The remainder of the autumn offers yet more great performance. There are full details on the website.

In the last week of September we are hosting two events of the Lincoln Book Festival: David Starkey on 27th and Alison Weir and Sarah Gristwood and Janina Ramirez on Friday 29th. All the Festival Events are on its website.

To complete the audience experience we now have wine list comprising a range of wines so that everyone should be able to find something to their taste. I have sampled them all, in the line of duty.