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Bible basher: Ken Russell

Ken Russell is known primarily for his filmmaking, the subject of controversy on more than one occasion. From Women In Love and The Devils through Gothic and The Lair Of The White Worm, Russell has shocked audiences with tales of sexual deviancy, religious zealousy and general depravity and debauchery. But, as Russell says, ‘I know my films upset people. I want to

upset people.‘

The enfant terrible of British cinema has also attacked the written word. With a pair of autobiographies under his belt, Russell has now tried his hand at literary fiction with a sci-fi religious satire, Mike And Gaby‘s Space Gospel,

which he will be reading from.

’The first gospel wasn‘t written until BSAD - how can anyone remember it?’ questions Russell. ‘You don‘t know whether Jesus rose from the dead. or whether he went off with Mary and lived happily ever after. But Mike And Gaby is sci-fi, so it can‘t be blasphemous. People are so ready to condemn.‘

Mike And Gaby started life as a film script in the 1970s, a form Russell is no stranger to, having written the screenplays for The Devils (based on Aldous Huxley’s novel), White Worm (Bram Stoker) and The Rainbow (D.H. Lawrence), among others. At a second Edinburgh engagement, Russell will talk about the process of translating fiction to the big screen. (Miles Fielder) I Ken Russell (Teatime Talk) Spiegeltent, 74 Aug, 5pm, £6 (£4); Ken Russell On Page To Screen (Nuts And Bolts) Gap Studio Theatre, 15 Aug, 5. 30pm, £5 (£3).

See Free/oaders, page 77.


Benetton ad campaign, his father’s death, the football and a coach trip to the European Parliament allowing him to let rip on charity, fidelity and human destiny. ‘There is a desire to juxtapose the strenuously intellectual with the apparently mundane,’ he observes. ‘I can‘t imagine what philosophy might refer to if not common life.‘

His new novel, Destiny, deals with ‘an embattled ltalo-English marriage and schizophrenic child and the idea that destiny is something we do together, whether as a family or a nafion!

Parks has been living in Italy for nearly twenty years and feels that ‘nationality, like family of origin, is something one seeks to grow out of.‘ Something he achieves brilliantly as the translator of Calvino or Calasso. (Gilles Robel)

I Tim Parks (Lunchtime Reading) Spiegeltent, 75 Aug, 7pm, £6 (£4); Tim Parks On Writer/y Rancour (Lecture) Post Office Theatre, 17 Aug, 3pm, £6 (£4); Edwin Morgan And Tim Parks On Translation (Nuts

96 THE UST 12-19 Aug 1999

And Bolts) Gap Studio Theatre, 17 Aug, 5.30pm, £5 (£3); What‘s Wrong With Cultural Elitism? (Culture Wars) Spiegeltent, 79 Aug, 4pm, £6 (£4).


Ludovic Kennedy

Despite having written extensively on miscarriages of justice, Ludovic Kennedy insists his latest work is ‘the most important book I have ever written.‘ All In The Mind argues that God is a fictive creation, fashioned to fulfil a societal need.

Eighty-year-old Kennedy has questioned God‘s existence since childhood but lacked the courage to speak out. ‘Neither did I have the wisdom, the knowledge nor the experience to set it down as I have done.‘ For his own part, he may have already sprinted past the biblical three score and ten, but the atheistic Kennedy still sounds a rather cheerful soul. ‘People say “don’t you think you‘ll change on your deathbed?" Well I’m almost there now, and I‘ve no reason to change at all.’

For light at the end of the tunnel, he

reaches for literature, art and nature. ‘That‘s where I find spiritual satisfaction. And that's where it ends.‘ (Alison Chiesa)

I Ludovic Kennedy (Teatime Talk) Spiegeltent, 79 Aug, 6.30pm, £6 (£4).


Asked in a recent interview about the role of the writer, Doris Lessing said it was to ‘entertain many ideas, sometimes contradictory ideas' and 'to resist group thinking and peer pressure.‘ No one can accuse Lessing of not practising what she preaches: she is a writer still full of surprises even in this, her 80th year.

This year, Lessing reads from her latest novel, Mara And Dam, in which she made an unexpected return to the kind of futuristic fiction she had been

- experimenting with decades earlier.

Lessing has published more than 40 books, all written on a manual typewriter, including two well-received volumes of autobiography that she is now stubbornly refusing to add to.

Her celebrated The Golden Notebook from 1962 was instantly hailed as a feminist classic, yet in typically resistant fashion, she has always rejected the label. Undoubtedly one of the greatest writers in the English language, Lessing will make you think and make you marvel. (Elisabeth Mahoney)

I Doris Lessing (Meet The Author) Post Office Theatre, 18 Aug, 77.30am, £6 (£4); Imprisoned Writers, Napiers Herbalists Lifestyle Tent, 18 Aug, 5.30pm, free tickets.


Steve Bell‘s scathing caricatures, poisonous wit and surreal imagination have added a unique dimension to The Guardian's political coverage for over twenty years. A new retrospective, Bell’s Eye, collects images - from two- headed Sizewell sheep to John Major’s grey underpants - that summarise to perfection moments in British political history.

‘You can do things in cartoons you can't do in any other kind of journalism,’ he says. ’Sending up politicians‘ images is increasingly important, now that they care so much more about image than policies.‘

Responses differ; Major ’always hated' Bell‘s likeness of him, but Anne Widdecombe wanted to buy hers. ‘Some of them take a while to work out, but some draw themselves. Major was a ready-made caricature. William Hague is a delight to draw; he has a head like a balloon.‘

Unsurprisingly, Bell retains little sympathy for those he savages: 'They like to be noticed.‘ (Hannah McGill)

I Steve Bell (Politics) Post Office Theatre, 74 Aug, 3pm, £6 (£4). See Free/oaders, page 77.


These are just a few things that Tony Parsons may be known for being the country’s highest-paid columnist, being a leading moulder of Britain’s cultural shape through too many organs to mention, a much-publicised break-up with another well-commensurated writer, being charming and almost offensively disarming as a pundit on The Late Review.

Having made his mints in newspapers, magazines and music weeklies, Parsons is ably placed to voice opinion on writing for public consumption, not that he is entirely convinced of his own past musings. ‘I look back on those early days and, at the time, I was very proud,’ he recalls. ‘Now I can’t believe the kind of things I was getting away with.‘

As well as his musings on the media, he will be discussing his latest novel, Man And Boy, a semi- autobiographical, quasi-Hornbyesque tale of love, loss and letting 90. (Brian Donaldson)

I Tony Parsons On Writing For The Media (Nuts And Bolts) Gap Studio Theatre, 74 Aug, 5. 30pm, £5 (£3),- Tony Parsons (Teatime Talk) Spiegeltent, 75 Aug, 6.30pm, £6 (£4). See Free/oaders, page 33.

Sketch show: Steve Bell