The evening of 1st July at Lincoln’s Inn could not have been lovelier! This was an absolutely glorious setting and I was privileged to read in The Old Hall.
Dinner started with a chilled leek, potato and watercress soup which was most welcome on this, one of the hottest days of the year in London. To make readers’ mouths water I have posted a copy of the menu along with this entry.
I was very generously introduced and thanked by The President, Professor R.H.A. Jenkyns who, at the end of my reading, kindly referred to me as a “true Horatian”. What an honour in such august company! I was delighted too, that Luke Houghton was in attendance, he had originally proposed that I read and is always very supportive of my work. I read a selection of poems from ‘The Works’ and from ‘Chasing the Ivy’ and of course ended with my personal homage to Horace, which is my version of Odes 1.32 and acknowledges Professor Stephen Harrison who has kindly acted as my scholarly adviser for the past five or six years, and whom I refer to in the poem as “the man of Latin” who first turned me on to Horace.
I took my daughter, Marie and her fiance, James as my guests. They were as ever, tremendously supportive, they sold books, took photographs and quite honestly tended to my every need in order to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for me.
Before the dinner we toasted The Queen and Horace of course. I stayed on orange juice until after my reading; then, and only then was it nunc est bibendum for me!
I have now taken my versions of Horace to so many different venues and to so many different audiences, everything from a converted cinema in Thornaby where we had pie and peas provided by the Mayor of Thornaby, to Washington (Co. Durham), Nifty Fifties Club, to Corpus Christi College Oxford, to Dead Good Poets in Liverpool, to Newcastle University, Durham University, the Lit and Phil in Newcastle, Glasgow University, the Classical Association Conference and now here, to this most wonderful and prestigious location.
I was most gratified by the number of guests who took the trouble to seek me out during the general socialising time after the event, to tell me how much they’d enjoyed by poems and even more satisfied that they were able to connect them with Horace and the originals. One gentleman told me he’d already bought ‘Chasing the Ivy’ via the internet and that he’d enjoyed it very much. He also told me that I looked much younger in person than in my photograph on the back of my book – always nice to hear!
I’d like now to take Horace to some Literature festivals, Ledbury, Aldebrough etc. but it is quite difficult to get into them. I can but try, but for now, having chased the ivy, I’m resting on my laurels, at least for a little while!