It’s hard to come out of the soporific mood that has once again engulfed me in the East Leeds FM Readathon to tell you about it, but, dear reader, you need to know.
I’ve just been reading The Plot by Madeleine Bunting with a group of others in the Chapel and when not reading aloud, I’ve been reading along and listening. It’s the story of how the author’s father built a stone chapel on a plot of land in North Yorkshire. It is both history and memoir. So far, the story is weaving back and forward in time, remembering the monks who settled there in the 12th century to the woods that were planted in the early 20th century to provide a suitable supply of timber for war. I was struck a few pages back by the way pain and sanctuary are interwoven in the writing. The pain of the masses on the battlefields of Europe and the pain that the writing of this book has helped to heal. It is Father’s Day and this book is about the author’s quest to understand and come to terms with her father.
But, for me, the experience of reading together as a group and listening intently to each other, whatever the subject, is an act of triumph and community. I hope that those of you who have taken today off to listen in are enjoying it as much as we are enjoying reading to you. There was the possibility of a walk today, but, I am so much happier to be here in the Chapel reading aloud and visualising the landscape of the North York Moors so beautifully evoked by Madeleine Bunting.
Well done ELFM for another Readathon and another dreamy day in a book
Atmospheric readings from an atmospheric book in an atmospheric setting – yes, Seacroft Chapel extends your vocabulary, it’s official.
The experience of reading text collectively (one at a time, not all together, we’re disciplined and responsible adults, after all) is a welcome novelty, an intriguingly different way of appreciating a new book. Seeing the different readers as well as hearing their voices, doing that thing that we never get the chance to do just by listening to a story on the radio – that is, we don’t have to guess at the face behind the voice (or the body producing the voice, to be picky) – means we can be free to do other stuff. Such as philosophising, making drinks, or even both at the same time: there’s no end to the versatility that the free-ranging Artist in the Chapel can aspire to.
The collegiate feel of the process makes for companionability. As Hemingway might have said: It is Good.
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