Voewood: Sex, suburbia and the Leveson inquiry
Sunday at the Voewood festival kicked off with a stimulating conversation between Peter Jukes, author of The Fall of the House of Murdoch, and publisher John Mitchison. The wide-ranging discussion was packed with insights into the the state of British journalism, the Leveson inquiry, and the nature of organisations such as News Corp. Particularly telling was his analysis of the way that entrepreneurs such as Murdoch like to see themselves as radicals, challenging the power of establishment bodies such as the monarchy and the BBC, and representing individual freedom and the will of the people through their sales. Jukes elegantly skewered this myth, pointing out that Murdoch “hates all dynasties – except his own”, that wherever he goes he “cosies up to power and creates monopolies”, and that, in the phone hacking affair, News Corp has behaved “more like the Stasi than any Western government”.
Discussing her work in progress, The Return, Polly Samson boldly stated that “Not to be frightened of the Bad Sex Award is a good idea. Writing good sex is almost as hard as having good sex.” The painter and novelist Harland Miller, meanwhile, confessed, “I lied about my O-levels to get into art school but all they wanted to know was whether I could change a plug.”
The multi-talented Louisa Young described her research into World War I plastic surgery for her novel My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You, immediately after dashing across from another tent where she’d been singing and playing guitar in Allison Ouvry’s puppet show based on Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (I kid you not).
Later in the afternoon, Hanif Kureshi read from The Buddha of Suburbia, reminding us how fresh and funny it still is. Interviewed by Rowan Pelling about his upbringing in Bromley and his subsequent life and career, he was inexhaustibly entertaining. “Childhood,” he said, “is a terrible boredom and a horror, and then it’s a great relief when you get out and go to London.”Tagged in: Hanif Kureshi, leveson, Louisa Young, Murdoch, News Corp, Peter Jukes, Polly Samson, Voewood
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