The tent is hosed down and packed away. The mud has finally been scraped from our boots. Yes, another festival is over.
This year’s Latitude could have been a total washout. Enough rain to make a mackerel miserable. Enough mud to make a mud guppy crave the Sahara. Our tent ended up looking like a cow had slept in there. Our car wept for its lack of ejector seats as it suffered our sodden selves squelching on its seats all the way back home.
And yet the three days we spent there were exciting, entertaining and only left us wanting to go back next year for more. And it wasn’t just down to the music, even though we did manage to catch the excellent Elbow, the awesome Alabama Shakes and the rapturous Rufus Wainwright.
No, the really great thing about Latitude this year were the books. Loads of them. In marquees. In the woods. On stages. There were authors everywhere , ranging from poets and performance poets like John Hegley and John Cooper Clarke, to comic writers of the quick fire calibre of Robin Ince, to the more (sometimes) seriously-minded Simon Armitage and Tim Lott and the quite frankly brilliant Brian Lobel with his tragicomic show about testicular cancer.
And then there was Exhibit A. We were there to talk – what else?!? – crime fiction. And talk it we did, in a venue no less magnificently named than the Literary Salon. We – along with novelist Joanna Rees – were booked in to do an hour. There were bands playing. There was food and alcohol a-plenty to be had. Would anyone show up to listen? The jury was out.
But not for long. Because, yes, they came. And kept coming. Until the venue was packed. Even better, they came with attitude, with readers and writers alike happy to debate and voice their opinions on anything and everything – just how it should be at a festival.
And that’s the real reason we left Latitude smiling this year, in spite of all the rain and the mud. Not only is crime fiction very much alive and kicking, with a whole host of folk happy to debate it until they’re blue in the face. But, just as vital, festivals like Latitude are giving readers and writers the opportunity to meet and mix and have fun talking about what they love – until word perforates the canvas that Elbow have just started playing, at least.