On Tony Harrison
The following untitled talk was given on the morning of the 27th April 2017 at the British Academy as part of the two-day New Light on Tony Harrison conference convened by Professor Edith Hall. Other contributors to the same session were Blake Morrison, Lee Hall and Josephine Balmer. Tony Harrison was present at the event.
A couple of months ago I gave a reading at the Tabernacle, a very snazzy metrosexual multicultural hangout in West London, and had a very cool time. Two days later I gave a reading at the Sheldonian in Oxford, that very august and capacious structure off Broad Street pushing its domed bonce into a skyline of dreaming spires, and felt my ego expanding to fit the surroundings. Events such as those can be intoxicating, disorientating, head-turning; swinging through the capital late at night with a cocktail of alcohol and adrenalin coursing through the system, or lotus-eating at the high table then looking up at the constellations through the unimpeded wide-angle telescope of a college quad. In between those flattering engagements and glamorous venues was the small matter of a reading in The Albert public house in Huddersfield, a sticky and sometimes tricky Victorian boozer at the bottom of a shady ginnel, just along the lane from Argos and across from the Sunquest sun-tanning centre. It’s only a ten-minute drive from where I live, but as I parked the car and wandered across Huddersfield’s ambitiously named ‘piazza’ I realised I was dreading it. For one reason, you can’t be a priest in your own parish, and for another reason, or perhaps the same ...
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