Aye Write, 2015. John Lister-Kaye – review by Maggie Graham.
Chaired by Jim Crumley.
Sir John Lister-Kaye is one of Britain’s best-known nature conservationists. The author of nine books on wildlife and the environment, which include From The hearth, Nature’s Child and At The Water’s Edge and his latest; Gods of The Morning: A Birds Eye View Of A Highland Year, which is set in and around Aigas Highland Field centre, which he runs. He began by telling us of his various struggles with his publisher over this latest book. This was to be purely a bird book, because “nature writing doesn’t sell”. His readership, used to his first-person, anecdotal style, would not read about more serious topics, such as climate change and environmentalism.
His readings and conversation did deal with birds but also the ways he managed to get into other subjects, such as his pet dogs and various visitors to the field centre. He put his audience at ease, and it did feel like sitting at the fireside with a wee dram, in conversation with an old friend. Until, that is, he opened his mouth and put his foot right in it. In the midst of a tale of birds destroying other birds’ nests and attacking them, he said: “I mean these birds were thugs, gangsters, just like Glaswegians.” Stony silence. He then compounded matters “Oh, I shouldn’t have said that: when I leave I’ll find my tyres have been slashed.” Oh, how we laughed.
Sir John rapidly gained ground by being erudite and informative. He talked of the American Transcendentalists, wilderness writing, the Romantic poets in England, including Wordsworth and his sister Dot (as if he were and old family friend of Dorothy’s) He also spoke of his relationship with his friend and mentor Gavin Maxwell, who encouraged him to become a writer. It was only during audience questions that we saw the serious side to the author and his work. He spoke of his parents and his early career, climate change and environmental disasters in his lifetime, including the Tory Canyon.
I am a great fan of the man’s books and the event was very informative and enjoyable. However, I fear it may be some time before he lives down that terrible faux pas.
Review by Maggie Graham, April 22, 2015
- Helen McClory: Short Story Writer and Novelist at Creative Conversations
- Sonnet Youth #31 Old Hairdressers
- Launch of Glasgow Historical City
- The Siren Awakes by Linda Jackson, West End Launch
- Petticoats and Pinnacles, NLS Kelvinhall
- Dove Tales: Home Front Celtic Connections 2020
- Jolly Beggars Banquet Cheeky Besom Productions
- Switch Off – Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing
- Creative Conversations, Monday Lunchtimes, University of Glasgow Chapel
- Benny Lynch Heritage Trail, Calton Bar
- Scottish Writers’ Centre Periodical Publishing with Gerry Cambridge, Joy Hendry & Henry Bell
- Val McDermid Crime Writer – Creative Conversations
- Paisley Book Festival 2020
- Glasgow Libraries Christmas Reading Challenge for Kids
- Books at the Botanics, Christmas 2019
- Are We In A Book – book launch The Dram
- I Am A Rohinga Creative Conversations
- Karen Campbell: Novelist at Creative Conversations
- Have Yourself a Literary Solstice, Poetry is the Way to Peace
- Christmas Shopping at Thistle Books Glasgow West End