Skip to main content

tv   Talking Books at Hay Festival  BBC News  June 24, 2017 12:30am-1:01am BST

12:30 am
to bbc news. our main headlines this hour: more than 800 homes in five tower blocks on a council estate in camden, north london, are being evacuated because of safety concerns over cladding in the aftermath of the grenfell tower fire. qatar has responded to the demands made by four arab states who have imposed a blockade on it, saying they are not "realistic" or reasonable. the white house says the tension between qatar and its gulf neighbours is a family issue which should be resolved locally. a new report in the washington post says vladimir putin directly ordered meddling in the us election triggering covert measures approved by president obama. and europe's most senior official has criticised the uk's offer to eu nationals after brexit, claiming it could "worsen the situation" for them. now on bbc news its time for talking books. hello and welcome to talking books
12:31 am
here at hay festival. founded in 1987, around the kitchen table in wales, the hay festival has been bringing readers, writers, and fingers together for 30 years. and it has evolved into a global celebration of literature, culture, and science. —— thinkers together. tonight, i am delighted to be speaking to sebastian barry. he is one of ireland's finest writers. in his fiction is often rooted in stories passed down through his family. his latest novel, it days without end, is set in america in the mid—19th century. —— novel,
12:32 am
days. iam i am delighted to be hit today to talk to sebastian barry, who, let's be honest, does not need an introduction from me. he is a prolific poet, playwright, and novelist. twice nominated for the man booker prize or fiction. novelist. twice nominated for the man booker prize orfiction. and the winner of countless other prizes and plaudits for his nine novels and 1a players. not bad for somebody who could not read or write until he was nine. so, sebastian barry, given so much of yourfiction nine. so, sebastian barry, given so much of your fiction is rooted nine. so, sebastian barry, given so much of yourfiction is rooted in your own family history, it seems entirely appropriate to start in your childhood. you could not read 01’ your childhood. you could not read or write and tell you a nine. why we re or write and tell you a nine. why were you such a slow... eight. 0k,
12:33 am
eight. while you such a slow starter? i think they can out of the starting blocks at great speed. but the speed was not anything to do with reader writing. it was to do with reader writing. it was to do with loving my family. i was so busy, i think, for those eight yea rs, busy, i think, for those eight years, worshipping them and adoring them, that i did not regain needed to go on to the dark arts of writing and reading. they were in themselves books. and i have spent the following 50 yea rs books. and i have spent the following 50 years tried to prove that to myself. i think i understood language, not as this rather recent technique of something written down, but like in those cartoons of the 18th century, with a tickertape, and the talk is in the tape. it seems that something is visible to be. —— to me. and that cornucopia of
12:34 am
individual members of my family, like my aunt annie, it represented her. it was alternative version of her. it was alternative version of her. and because of that, when the day comes, inevitably, with these older people in the generations ahead of you, when they die, you can bring them with you in this form of floating main wish. and i think in those eight years, my whole work as a novelist, at the age of six, seven, and eight, was to learn the universe about, and nothing else. and all credit to my mother and father, they did not bat an eyelid. they might have been paying attention, but nobody ever mentioned dyslexia or anything like that. when i went back to ireland, i certainly learnt to read. god intervened, didn't he? guide. that catholic irish guy. he was at the very pagan. i went to an lcc school in london. i
12:35 am
don't know of anyone whinges at a school in london. i do not they exist any more. —— i don't know if anyone went to such a school. anyway, when we went back, they presented me at school, in this frightening school, i must say, because they now had an english accent. if you want to get beaten half to death in an irish schoolyard, try that accent on. i was irish, but they had dismissed as book, and my parents were profound agnostics. my mother secretly would go to mass because she didn't connect going to mass with religion, particularly. she just like to go to hear the noise. this little book was the irish catechism. i do know they even do it any more. it was a thing that they gave you, and it was useful, because it set who made the world, and god made the world, and
12:36 am
even i could connect that little word god with the sound of a new already. and in that way, in the marriage of the sows that a new and the words that i was being pointed out, i learnt to read. —— sounds that i knew. i could not read or write, but they could sing is a little boy. i was one of those children that led the position at lord's, singing uleybury. what could be nicer than that? —— singing ave maria. when people say they don't like bible, i say great. brilliant. at what point, then, did you decide to bea at what point, then, did you decide to be a writer, but perhaps it would be better to ask when you consider yourself as an author. my mother, while not paying attention to a lot of things because she was a very great actress, and was very busy,
12:37 am
and in those days, in the abbey, you would rehearse in the afternoon, and then do the evening show. a crack this is the abbey theatre? yes, and dublin. it is whether true theatre. the three that she had to be with me asa the three that she had to be with me as a child, at one stage, she said that she put a pencil in my hand and said that i could write or draw with it as said that i could write or draw with itasi said that i could write or draw with it as i please. —— repertory theatre. that was her instruction. so the tragic way, i had only done what my mother told me to do. seal latest novel, days without end, was inspired by a story that your grandfather told you in bed when you are boy. tell us a little about that. so your latest novel. my grandfather, jack 0'hara, he had a ledger. he was always good to write
12:38 am
his memoirs in this ledger. but u nfortu nately, his memoirs in this ledger. but unfortunately, the way he wished to remember his life was just not how it happened. so we were in this very draughty, cold, victorian mansion, outside dublin. it was at the time of the oil strike. so you couldn't hit the houses. so my grandfather and myself, in the bed, and... —— heat the houses. he couldn't write his life down, i was content with the totally invented version of his life that he liked to tell me on that. and you know, i beg you remember. these grandparents are the most important things in a child's, in childhood. to me, it is the
12:39 am
saviour of my childhood. and those lovely moment as a child when you feel a certain aroma, aura, of irish history, as he lets rip a fight in bed, and says keep the heat in. —— fa rt. bed, and says keep the heat in. —— fart. which is important during the oil strike. and he would tell you the most incredible things. —— aura. and in another part of the house, probably in daylight, my mother would be whispering in my ear the actual things that happened. so i got this wonderful double narrative of the same thing. you know, i can see now that i am still negotiating between those two versions, and delighting in the fact that they contradict each other. my grandfather had a great desire to be regarded as a gentleman. he was not. but that is not going to stop him inventing himself as a gentleman. when the war came, and he was an engineer, he got a commission in the royal engineers, that was because he
12:40 am
felt that he wanted to have studies in the world. so was not such a great reason. what did he do? he did bomb disposal. —— status. he was brilliant at it and got two medals for tour of duty for defusing bombs in the second world war. but my other grandfather was a nationalist. i remember a beautiful moment outside of that grandfather's gate, when my army grandfather come —— army grandfather, let's call him that, they met and they shook hands. so his story sparked the novel which was set in america in the 19505. and it is was set in america in the 19505. and it i5a was set in america in the 19505. and it is a gay lu5tre of between two young it is a gay lu5tre of between two . it is a gay lu5tre of between two young man's, one who has come over from ireland. —— and it is a gay love story between two young man. it
12:41 am
i5a love story between two young man. it is a little like your fifth novel, a long long way, 5et is a little like your fifth novel, a long long way, set during the first world war. the5e long long way, set during the first world war. these are people trying to find safety in the horrors of war. i was wondering if you would read u5 war. i was wondering if you would read us a little flavour to give us a sense of the family, i suppose, that they create. you know, when i was a child, there was a frightening body of people, and hope there are no di55enter5 are the people you, i don't mean to offend hi5 no di55enter5 are the people you, i don't mean to offend his people. the5e don't mean to offend his people. these people said the family was the mo5t these people said the family was the most important thing and the problem with homosexual 0bi wa5 most important thing and the problem with homosexual 0bi was it was the enemy a family. as i was writing this book, although wynona i5 initially given as a servant, that she is taken as a daughter. and she becomes a reason for being alive. and i thought, dear old league of decency, look at theirs. 0f and i thought, dear old league of decency, look at theirs. of course, the story is being told in very
12:42 am
ideal terms about this adopted daughter, wynona. some are part of this passage is some of what i feel about my own daughter. his is to remember that month, and maybe our rowers born in june, remember that month, and maybe our rowers born injune, and wynona says she was born during the full buckman. anyhow, we roll all that into one, and on the first of may, with a signed our birthday for the three of us. we say we are known as nine years old, and john cole i5 settled on 29, so i must be pretty sick. something along those lines. whatever as we may be, we are young. jon cole i5 whatever as we may be, we are young. jon cole is the best looking man in christendom. and this is his heyday. wynona i5 christendom. and this is his heyday. wynona is certainly the prettiest daughter that anyone ever had. like hair, blue eyes, like a mackerel‘s blew back, or a duck‘s feathers. cool as a melon, herface, when you
12:43 am
hold in your hands. god knows what stories she has seen and been a part in. savage murderfor sure, stories she has seen and been a part in. savage murderforsure, because because that. walk through the carnage and sort of her own. you could expect a child who has seen all that to wake in the night sweating, and she does. thenjohn cole i5 sweating, and she does. thenjohn cole is obliged to hold her trembling form against him and soothe her with lullabies. well, he and ian i5 soothe her with lullabies. well, he and ian is one, and he does that over and over. he holds her softly and things are a lullaby. where he got that, no man knows, not even himself. mcgee street bird from a distant country. then he lies on her bed and pushes him him. —— like a stray bird. tied in latejon cole with that that is a safety she is trying to reach. a harbour. then her breathing slowly lengthens and she i5 snoring a little. time to come back to bed, and then in the
12:44 am
darkness, he looks at me and nod5 his head. got her sleeping, he says. you sure do, i say. not much more than that needed to make men happy. applause. i think to my introduction i needed to add actor, as well. that was marvellous. thi5 i needed to add actor, as well. that was marvellous. this relationship between thomas and john was in part inspired by your own son, toby, who indeed, the book is dedicated to. tell us how that happened. when he was 16, i5 tell us how that happened. when he was 16, is it we all have this ex presses a was 16, is it we all have this expresses a teenager, and we think it is may be hiding criticism. but oftentimes, it is just hiding a it is may be hiding criticism. but oftentimes, it isjust hiding a lack oftentimes, it isjust hiding a lack of worse to say, what they need to say, and they will learn the words
12:45 am
again. but at 16, say, and they will learn the words again. but at16, he say, and they will learn the words again. but at 16, he was even more in trouble for words, because something is bothering him. and he was becoming depressed. and when our children are depressed, it behold5 us as children are depressed, it behold5 us as human children are depressed, it behold5 us as human creatures children are depressed, it behold5 us as human creatures to mobilise our5elve5 us as human creatures to mobilise ourselves and find out what is troubling them, because in our district kaymer in the hills, there had been a number of young men who had been a number of young men who had taken their own lies. and i was so frightened and not sleeping, afraid of this thing. —— district, in the. thankfully, in the magic of ourfamily life, his in the. thankfully, in the magic of our family life, his elder sister 5aid our family life, his elder sister said to toby, toby, ju5t our family life, his elder sister said to toby, toby, just go in and say it to them. because she knew what the trouble was. just go in and say it. so then he came into our bedroom, the poor stone effigies are the parents, wrung out by looking after children for 20 years, exhausted, not getting out of bed as often as we used to, and not as quickly, i did —— quickly, either. he said, the thing is, dad... iwas
12:46 am
like, oh god, sentences beginning with the thing is a no good. he said the thing is, i am gay. with the thing is a no good. he said the thing is, iam gay. i with the thing is a no good. he said the thing is, i am gay. i thought thank god, and i am lying in bed, thank god, and i am lying in bed, thank god. you won't have to go through this heterosexual nightmare that we have been going through. laughter. from that moment, it was the beginning of this university... for much of our time, we don't need word5 for much of our time, we don't need words to teach your old straight father about things. you said everything in the relationship you learn from toby, i wonder what he felt or thought when he read the book fashion learned? job well done! laughter -- learned. i5aid to job well done! laughter -- learned. i said to him recently, did you read the book? he wouldn't answer me, he
12:47 am
was talking about something else. a5 as ifa was talking about something else. a5 as if a generous gesture, he said, oh, dad, you're not gay, but you're an ally. i said, wow! oh, dad, you're not gay, but you're an ally. i5aid, wow! and i liked your book! i have to say when robert mike rann reviewed this book in the 0b5erver, it was overwhelming. mike rann reviewed this book in the observer, it was overwhelming. but only ten times less than the overwhelming moment when your 5un 5ay5 overwhelming moment when your 5un says i like your book, you don't have to say i loved it, adorable, great masterpiece, i liked your book. am i right he's the only one of your three children to have ever read any of your books? allegedly he has read this book! laughter you have of course raided family history before, haven't you? your novel a long long way featured a great uncle, on ka naan's long long way featured a great uncle, on kanaan's side featured a great aunt, the secret scripture, another great aunt, you touched on
12:48 am
this at the beginning but i'd like you to talk to us a bit more about it, why do you do it? i don't really make a it, why do you do it? i don't really makea raid it, why do you do it? i don't really make a raid on it because there's nothing there. what interested me as a child obviously was preserving these people eternally. i had to find some way of replacing them. i also felt a certain urgency as a human being, an irish person, who didn't seem very iri5h, which was quite important in the 705 and 805 because of the troubles in the north and myfamily because of the troubles in the north and my family had been in a lot of trouble in the previous troubles in the 205 so what i was trying to do was surround myself with family because mystery is mainly that you don't need real people to be your family. for a sample roseann in the secret scripture, if anyone read it, had no name, this is the final indignity you can visit on somebody. herfamily when indignity you can visit on somebody. her family when she was section in the 405 apparently for immorality, i
12:49 am
think for beauty, but when they section her, the people nearest her told the extended family that she had died of tb but she didn't die, she was in this institution for the rest of her life. after that book was published and we had great adventures with it in publishing of course, but there was a little moment where nurses course, but there was a little moment where nur5e5 wrote to me and 5aid kammy name our new lecture hall after roseann because we would like to do that because it's a cycle psychiatric institution and i said ye5, psychiatric institution and i said yes, ididn't psychiatric institution and i said yes, i didn't have the heart to say i've made up her name. somewhere there's this name on a lecture hall if you accidentally find yourself there, you'll know why, that's magical, you can make somebody up and somehow they become more real than yourself. we've talked about to by‘s than yourself. we've talked about toby's inspiration behind this book and you did write about your grandfather and he got very upset about what he saw as you wearing the dirty laundry of the family in public, so there are some pitfalls
12:50 am
in this. imagine his horror having carefully fed me the imaginary story of his life with all its glory and achievement, and indeed he had achieved a lot in his life, he sailed around the entire gollob as a british merchant seaman, but byjin go when he read that book, it was about gun running in africa, it was about gun running in africa, it was about the drunkenness of his wife and himself and the horror he inflicted and i was the grandson he adored and he was the grandfather i worship and he called me into number 22 mitchell way in dublin where he lived in the most spartan of circumstances and he sat me down on the chair and circumstances and he sat me down on the chairandi circumstances and he sat me down on the chair and i was terrified because the book was there on the table and he said are you f —— ending with letter are. i was a soldier. i said ending with letter are. i was a soldier. i5aid how ending with letter are. i was a soldier. i said how did you know these things? we never spoke again until the day he died. you talked
12:51 am
about your own childhood being a singular mess, i wondered whether you would ever write about that?” thought i'd have this happy childhood and then to be honest i found out something, this retrospectively dropped a bomb on my childhood, this discovery, i can't discu55, forgive me for saying that, i'm saying this as buoyantly as i can but it was as if all the things i valued and indeed all the work i had done for 30 years had vanished away and i've got everything wrong. then i have the comfort of this incredible dublin protestant woman who's been my wife for 32 years, how did she put up with that? then my three children. who am i to say having had a difficult childhood was any other thing than a beautiful precursor to the happiness of my aduu precursor to the happiness of my adult life? you've been writing for nearly four decades now. i've taken 40 yea rs nearly four decades now. i've taken 40 years just to write a few little
12:52 am
books. and does it get easier? it get5 books. and does it get easier? it gets more exciting for some reason. does it? about i don't know why, maybe it's just this book. does it? about i don't know why, maybe it'sjust this book. what does it? about i don't know why, maybe it's just this book. what i like is i can have that experience at 61, that's why it's called days without end because it makes me think when we were in the heyday of the children, they're not days you often think about having an end so they are actually days without end. maybe they are the best days of your life, we don't know, but it intrigued me and pleased me that, you know, writing a book like this, 0k, you know, writing a book like this, ok, i you know, writing a book like this, 0k, iama you know, writing a book like this, ok, i am a bit older and obviously it's going to get a lot worse quite shortly but i can still do this and maybe that's the first feeling i had when i was 22 but even though i was chaotic and depressed and unhappy and ridiculous and impossible to live with, i could get up in the morning and write a story in a little room and by evening i would have a short story. the excitement of that! i feel we should conclude
12:53 am
by asking you to seeing your are they maria. listen, this is schubert as you've never heard before —— ave maria. and hopefully never will ain! ave maria... maiden mired. that's all i can remember. ladies and gentlemen, sebastian barry! thank you, thank you. it is going to be windy in northern pa rt5 of it is going to be windy in northern parts of the uk, particularly scotla nd parts of the uk, particularly scotland and here it will feel fairly cool. thi5 cooler weather has been rolling off the atlantic for the last couple of days. some beautiful pictures coming in, here's one from scotland. that heatwave we had in the south is now a distant memory. this is what the weather map looks like right now, a weather front cro55ing the country giving us a fair bit of cloud out there,
12:54 am
some spots of rain too. to the south of the weather front it's actually a warm night, so temperatures by the end of the night will be hovering around 16 or 17 in places. to the north of the weather front it will be a lot fresher, for example in scotland it could be down to single figures just outside town. starting with scotland at 9am, a mixed bag, quite windy especially in the north, winds fre5hening during the day, showers as well. further 5outh across the country, although a little mixed, you can see in places there is a bit of brightness and a few spots of rain and none of this rain will be heavy, ju5t thicker cloud and fleeting dribs and drabs of rain and that's pretty much it but not cold. first thing see around 17 or 18. what about glastonbury? not looking soggy, there might be some dampness around, a little bit of light rain but actually most of the day it should be relatively bright, most the time overcast but bright, with temperatures just around 20 or so. then in the afternoon they'll be a little bit of rain especially across the valleys into north—western england, but blustery showers
12:55 am
across scotland, winds could be up to gale force wind and the best of the weather in saturday will be across eastern and south—eastern areas and hear temperatures in the sunshine if it comes out for any length of time could be 23. how are we doing compared to the rest of europe? it has cooled off in paris, temperatures down to 26, it's been well in the 305 as well, the real heat is just across the mediterranean where it should be at this time of year. back to the uk, saturday night into sunday, low pressure still close to the uk. a lot of isobars here so a windy day in scotland, again up to gale force wind very blustery through the lowlands especially in the morning, those winds will be buffeting the trees. to the south of that also breezy but actually in the afternoon after a cloudy morning the afternoon is looking a lot brighter with temperatures of 23 in london and a cool 16 in glasgow. have a good weekend. you are watching bbc news. i'm kasia madera. 0ur you are watching bbc news. i'm kasia madera. our top stories: 4,000 residents from five london
12:56 am
tower blocks are evacuated over safety concerns following last week's devastating grenfell tower fire. eitan where we're going to go. i have a wife, children, and cats. i also have a job. —— i qatar's neighbours call for the closure of aljazeera as the gulf's political crisi5 escalates. the broadcaster says it's a bid to "silence freedom of expression". european leaders criticise the uk's offer to eu nationals after brexit — they say the plan is "below expectations". and the british and irish lion5 take on the all blacks in auckland,
12:57 am
12:58 am
12:59 am
1:00 am

8 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on