Thursday, June 22, 2006

Peter Ackroyd's Sacred Thames talk was interesting. I'm not sure if he hadn't fully prepared until the last minute or it's just that his natural performance style is rather wooden and one note but he stumbled over his words quite a few times and there were one or two long pauses while he fumbled with his notes. It's a problem that anyone who has seen his TV shows, on Dickens, London or the Romantics and real life can't disguise it with dubbing, retakes and fast camera shots. He seemed much more personable and alive in the Q&A after his speech, which suggests that it's the tyranny of the script that may be his problem, not his fluency.

He was talking about the relationship between the river and religion and spirituality, the old names that survive today, the possible derivation of London from Lud (a pagan God if I'm remembering him right?) and the river names, including Thames itself, through to Christian times, the baptisms in the river and the large number of churches built right on the very banks of the Thames. The area now occupied by the Houses of Parliament was a sacred holy place going back into prehistory. His current project is a book on the Thames, he seemed to come to a very sudden stop after about fifty minutes and somewhere in the early Middle Ages, maybe an indication of how far the book has got.

So all in all it was quite a fun evening.


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