Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Glenn Patterson, Malachi O'Doherty with June Caldwell in the middle - lunchtime @ The Black Box

It was back over to The Black Box for another Out to Lunch event at lunchtime. This time, locals authors and broadcasters Glenn Patterson and Malachi O'Doherty in conversation with June Caldwell about their writing and musings on the local context (ie, "The Troubles").

Glenn Patterson, June Caldwell, Malachi O'Doherty in conversation at Out to Lunch

While the food was excellent, the overall event was slightly disappointing (though enjoyable). Both authors read from their recent works - the third party and The Telling Year: Belfast 1972 - and then answered a few questions from June, and even fewer from the floor.

I think my disappointment centred around the lack of conversation. There was plenty of on-stage dialogue, but it felt very bitty and loosely connected. I wasn't entirely convinced that Glenn and Malachi were big fans of each other's work. They didn't spark off each other as much as a two or three person panel might have hoped.

Rescue unexpectedly came by way of a German reporter who had been sitting at the front recording the introductory parts for a German radio documentary on NI. When she took off her headphones and set down her mic, she asked a question that actually started a bit of a discussion. And having listened to Malachi, June and Glenn, she came back at them. At last ... let the conversation begin!

There was some interesting ideas bounced around about the place of art in healing society. In the midst of talk about Truth Commissions (the play Truth in Translation passed through the Lyric during the Belfast Festival) and enquiries, how long a gap will we need before properly starting to publicly reflect on our past - Germany's beginning to erect monuments to mark wartime events.

Would Malachi's suggestion of cementing three thousand pairs of shoes into the pavement around the City Hall sufficiently mark the conflict? And would we ever try to follow the Spanish model - they've recently passed a law to force every province in the country to remove remaining monuments to Franco, erasing him from the landscape.

And then there's whether we should have more drama about the past thirty plus years on television? Give My Head Peace's departure from our screens is a sign of trying to move the drama forward to look at other issues. But there's relatively little quality drama being written about the 70s or 80s. And little being written about post-conflict sectarianism - it hasn't gone away you know.

But it does make me want to read Malachi's book.

1 comment:

John Self said...

I couldn't make it to the Brian Moore event in the end: couldn't wangle the two hours off over lunchtime it would have taken for me to get into town and back again to watch it. Still, at least they got my money for it!

If anyone else was there I'd be pleased to hear how it went.