Booking the cook: Nick Nairn

Top chef Nick Nairn, who cooked for the opening of the Scottish Parliament, will be having a ball demonstrating his culinary skills at The Purvis Marquee and proving he is still as passionate about food as ever. 'Cooking is a craft and it can be learned,’ states the star of Wild Harvest and Ready Steady Cook. ’lt's simply a case of doing lots of little jobs and doing them properly.’ Nairn stresses that concocting recipes is work, but he also urges people to experiment and use their imagination. ’lt’s much more fulfilling for the home cook to incorporate their own ideas.’ His other passion is motor racing. He competed at the recent World Touring Car Championships at Knockhill in the supporting race where his main ambition was not to finish in final place. ’lt's a great buzz, but still not as big a buzz as cooking.’ (Ross Holloway) . Nick Nairn (Food And Drink) Purvis Marquee, 24 Aug, 3pm, £6 (£4).

CULTURAL lD/TRAVEL William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple is a man of passion. The travel writer’s City Of jSnns, written in response to his Delhi years, interweaves the city’s past and its contemporary bustle. For Scottish-born Dalrymple, it was evidence of his heady love for the city. His latest book The Age Of Kali is a more measured response to late 20th century India.

‘The Age Of Kali is a reaction to the overly rose-tinted view presented in City Of Djinns,’ states Dalrymple. ’It is like a love affair. I don’t feel any less in love than before but one is aware of the bleaker reality.‘

To Western eyes, India is still predominately seen as a country of non-violence thanks to Gandhi’s belief in passive-resistance. Today, caste wars are more than simmering and the trashing of symbols of commercial imperialism, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, is not uncommon. The Age Of Kali perhaps marks Dalrymple's age of realism.


Peter Ackroyd goes for a five mile walk every single day. He leaves his north London home in lslington and is directed by his curiosity. Clerkenwell, Spittalfields and Southwark are favoured walking quarters. All are the territory of ancient churches, elegant brick town houses, one-time prisons and well- worn public houses.

London-born Ackroyd is the author of biographies on Thomas More. Charles Dickens and William Blake and has long been interested in how the urban landscape has shaped the lives and writings of his subjects. Think Dickens and the term Dickensian London soon comes to

mind. Similarly his novels Hawksmoor

Beats of London: Peter Ackroyd

and Chatterton are strongly rooted in the lay of the land. The layers of history that often invisibly inhabit streets are now engulfed by late 20th

century bustle and car fumes.

’Each book seems to find its own catchment area.’ explains Ackroyd. 'T his is partly to do with the nature of London - certain parts seem to accommodate a territorial imperative.’ Over the years Ackroyd has become equally known for both his novels and biographies, and for him, the two literary forms are far from different disciplines.

His most recent book, The Plato Papers, specifically looks at the cross-overs between writing fact and fiction. '1’ here is little difference between the two,’ believes Ackroyd. ’It is like a musician composing a string quartet or symphony. They are both music.’ (Susanna Beaumont)

l Richard Holmes And Peter Ackroyd On Writing Biography (Nuts And Bolts) Gap Studio Theatre, 24 Aug, 5. 30pm, £5 (£3); Peter Ackroyd (Fiction) Post Office Theatre, 25 Aug, 3.30pm, £6 (£4); Whose Text Is It Anyway (Discussion) Post

Office Theatre, 25 Aug, 5. 30pm, £7 (£5).

(Susanna Beaumont)

I Globilisation: The New Colonialism (Cultural ID) Post Office Theatre, 23 Aug, 7.30pm £7 (£5); William Dalrymple On The Age Of Kali (Travel) Post Office Theatre, 24 Aug, 7. 30pm, £ 7 (£5).


Happy Birthday Just


If William ’helped' prepare his 80th birthday party, balloons would burst, vomit would swiftly follow the bumps and cake would fill the floor. But, defends Sarah Davies, Editorial Director of Macmillan Children's Books: ’William is naughty but never nasty. He always has the best of intentions; it is simply that things always go a bit wrong.’

With nearly 400 stories published since the eternal eleven-year-old first appeared in Home Magazine in 1919, the Huckleberry Finn of the Home Counties sells 75,000 books a year, proving he still appeals to angelic bad boys.

’William spends his time doing good things, righting wrongs and generally pursuing happiness,’ concurs Martin Jarvis, the enduring voice of William. 'Richmal Crompton highlights the ludicrousness of human behaviour. With great insight she has created stories that show how children have always thought about the world they live in, and will continue to think in the future; her characters are timeless.’ (Gabe Stewart)

I Happy Birthday Just William! (Kids Event) Post Office Theatre, 22 Aug, 10am, £3.


From fear and loathing on the campaign trail with John Major and that.mile-high incident, to firing off critical salvoes at his better selling contemporaries (particularly Messrs Hornby and Welsh), Will Self is a PR nightmare. And wet dream.

When not chasing the dragon of infamy, he is an accomplished teller of tales and explorer of emotions. The ostentatiousness of his language may intimidate but there‘s reward in reaching for the Concise Oxford and taking a ride on this rogue's coat-tails.

A ride, in this instance, to the centre and soul of the metropolis, looking at the influence of the urban environment on his writing. Whether Self, like the late Italo Calvino, believes the city is a novel and the novel is a city - both nurturing and diminishing the lives of their inhabitants and characters - is unclear. What is certain is that Self-ism will continue to enrage and delight in equal measure. (Rodger Evans)

I Will Self And Andrew O'Hagan On Urban Landscape In Fiction (Architecture) Gap Studio Theatre, 23 Aug, 5.30pm, [5 7 (£5).

Continued over page

First writes

Putting debut novelists under the microscope. This issue: Tony Hawks

Who he? Tony Hawks is a writer and performer you will undoubtedly recognise from his appearances on Havel Got News For You and They Think It's All Over. He began his showbiz career in a brilliantly-named if spectacularly unsuccessful band, Morris Minor And The Majors. Mr Hawks is single and fond of girls. llis debut It's called Round Ire/and With A Fridge and is a fabulously amusing travel comedy, and a love story between one man and his refrigerator. They are probably the least likely travel companions since Oliver Reed trekked across the Alps with an elephant.

Basically . . . it's a light-hearted romp with a serious undercurrent about the strength and will of the human spirit. Plus it shows what lengths people will go to for a few quid.

First line test ‘l'm not, by nature, a betting man. However, the pages that follow in this book do not bear testimony to that. In fact they exist wholly as the result of a bet.’

The bet The drunken wager was placed by Hawks’ mate Kevin and placed at the foot of Tony’s bed where he found it the following day. it read: ’I hereby bet Tony Hawks the sum of one hundred pounds that he cannot hitch hike round the circumference of Ireland, with a fridge, within one calendar month.’

So, how does he get on? Find out for yourself - it’s published in paperback by Ebury Press, priced £6.99. (Brian Donaldson)

I Tony Hawks (Travel) Gap Studio Theatre, 22 Aug, noon, £5 (£3).

19—26 Aug 1999 THE usr 79