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EditorialsUpFront 12/22

UpFront 12/22

There were some fascinating talks at last month’s Bridport Literary Festival. Not least George Monbiot’s impassioned plea for a more robust effort to reduce our effect on climate change—a talk that spilled out onto the streets as he carried his message on to Bucky Doo square from the Electric Palace. However, memoirs were also a big feature of the festival. Confronting bereavement, Brexit and lockdown, the extraordinary Sheila Hancock talked about Old Rage, her memoir from the frontline of declining years. Clover Stroud’s book The Red of my Blood is about sharing grief and exploring what life feels like when death interrupts it. Manni Coe sat on stage with his Down’s Syndrome brother Reuben and with gentle coaxing by local author Sophy Roberts they discussed Manni’s memoir Brother do you Love Me. It is a heart wrenching story about how the two brothers negotiated a way through the devastation the Covid pandemic had brought to their lives. Hannah Bourne-Taylor, whose story we featured in our September issue, talked of her memoir, Fledgling, about her time in Ghana, where as a ‘trailing spouse’ she learned about her own challenges through caring about lives as tiny as insects. Later in the week, talking about her memoir Without Warning and Only Sometimes: Scenes from an Unpredictable Childhood Kit de Waal said that when she sat down to write the memories of her childhood in Moseley, Birmingham, she had in mind that everyone must have ten anecdotes from their lives which could be expanded to a book. She found it wasn’t quite that easy. Her talk, however, did make me think of all the life stories that we have covered in the years since we first published this magazine. It turns out it was twenty-one years ago last month. We’ve reached the age where a person can legally adopt a child, fly a helicopter or drive a bus. As a magazine we don’t plan to try any of those, but it is a milestone just the same. Hundreds of people have told their life stories and provided a vibrant picture of the extraordinary diversity of this local community. As we pass this landmark I can only wonder what fascinating lives we will hear about in coming years, and speculate on how we will pave the road ahead. Merry Christmas to all.

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