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Stan Barstow's Eightieth Birthday Celebrations

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On June 21st 2008, I was delighted to be invited to attend a special event at Pontardawe Arts Centre to celebrate Stan Barstow's eightieth birthday.

The evening started with a reception, hosted by the Arts Centre and Academi, to welcome Stan and to give guests to opportunity to have a drink and chat with the man himself. We then moved into the main auditorium, where there was to be a showing of the 1961 file A Kind of Loving. Before this, there was a short speech and presentation to Stan, formally welcoming him as a fellow of Academi. This was followed by a very entertaining introduction to the film by Stan himself, in which he shared some memories of the making of the film, and discussed its ground-breaking nature, particularly in its explicit (for the time) references to sex.

This was followed by a showing of the film, which was very warmly received. Finally, everyone adjourned to the bar and had a few drinks!

Battle of the Books - BBC4

On June 19th 2004, the BBC4 program Battle of the Books featured A Kind of Loving in a battle against A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

Battle of the Books

The program was hosted by James Naughtie, and featured Mariella Frostrup, who was supporting A Kind of Loving, and Kevin Day, supporting A Clockwork Orange.

The guest advocates for A Kind of Loving were Jonathan Tulloch, author of The Gateshead Trilogy, and Deborah Philips, academic and lecturer at Brunel University. The guest speakers for A Clockwork Orange were Blake Morrison, the well known writer and author of When Did you Last see your Father? and Nicky Singer, author of Feather Boy.

The program was very entertaining, and the "witnesses" for A Kind of Loving put up a good show. Unfortunately, though perhaps not surprisingly, the sheer emotion engendered by A Clockwork Orange swayed the day in the end.

Stan Barstow - A Life Indeed!

On February 19th, 2004, Stan Barstow appeared at the eighty-seat Voice Box at the Festival Hall in London in front of a sellout audience. He was in conversation with the critic and writer Harry Ritchie.

Harry Ritchie first gave a very warm and kind introduction to Stan and his writing. Stan then gave a couple of readings from the second book in the Ella Palmer trilogy (Give Us This Day). After that, Harry Ritchie asked the questions, and Stan answered them. He was very entertaining about his early struggles; he talked a lot about writing ("It's the easiest thing in the world not to write! There are always plenty of distractions."), and how he tended to not know exactly where his characters were going until they got there in his novels. He talked about his TV writing, the sorts of books he enjoyed reading - and plenty of other subjects were touched on. There were also several questions from the audience, which Stan answered at length; about how much of Stan Barstow was in Vic Brown; about Joby, and how he came to write the book; and four or five others, too.

In all, the event lasted about an hour and a quarter - and it was really fascinating. He got a well deserved and very warm round of applause at the end of the event. Stan then signed copies of his books - and there was a fair queue for that!

Very glad I went. My only regret is that I forgot to take a camera with me....!

In My Own Good Time - book launch


On October 24th 2001, Stan Barstow was the guest of National Museum of Photography, Film and TV in Bradford. The occasion was to introduce a screening of A Kind of Loving, and to launch his autobiography, In My Own Good Time.

Stan arrived at about 7.45, and spent a half-hour in the bar before the event proper, talking to members of the audience, posing for photographs and signing autographs and copies of his books. He then went into the cinema auditorium, and spoke for about a half-hour very entertainingly on his early writing life, with particular emphasis on A Kind of Loving. He then answered questions from the floor.

There was then an intermission, during which Stan signed copies of his autobiography. The final part of the evening was the screening of the film.

This was a fascinating event, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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I would like to thank Mark Whitley of Smith-Settle for inviting me to the event.

These pages are copyright © Martin Benson, 1999-2008. You are welcome to link to them.

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