Cuckfield Book Festival
There are over 300 book festivals throughout the UK but the feedback from many of our authors, suggests that Cuckfest is regarded as one of the best of the smaller ones, particularly for the quality of its cakes.
This year’s festival began with a literary quiz, compiled by local quiz addicts – and a challenging session it proved to be, eventually won by the intriguingly named ‘Ogden Flyers’. On Friday night, Ockenden Manor was once again the venue for supper where Michael Mayne, vicar of Holy Trinity, introduced the two actors who read a delightful selection of poetry.
On Saturday, the rains came but undeterred, literary enthusiasts soon filled the Queen’s Hall and heard fascinating and enlightening talks on everything from fake news, cyber warfare (and current events that very day made these two talks particularly apt), World War I poetry, Muriel Spark and hIstorical fiction. Three local authors spoke about their work and the evening ended with a light-hearted duo talking about their books on the pop music world – this session produced much hilarity!
The Baptist Church was buzzing with activity on the Saturday as dozens of children participated in the fun. There were workshops, story-telling sessions, competitions – and plenty of delicious snacks too. Dinosaurs were much in evidence because if Cuckfield’s connection with dinosaurs, the importance of bees was emphasised by Tony De Saulles, a local author in a session with music too. The First World featured and another local author, Joshua Raven, challenged his readers to come up with endings to his stories. All in all, Carole Hayward and her team organised a creative and instructive day which was enjoyed by everyone who came.
On Sunday, we heard about travelling in the Third Reich, crime fiction, the influence of childhood reading, how to get published – and lots more. The Queen’s Hall sessions ended with Simon Brett talking about his long career – he had his audience chuckling merrily and no one regretted missing the first episode of the new Dr Who!
The festival ended on Sunday night upstairs in the Talbot with a convivial session when the author of a controversial book on stalking put his case for writing it. The discussion that followed was particularly lively and the audience appreciated his thoughtful and honest approach.
Once again, we organisers, Sheila Chasser, Carole Hayward, Sue Laing and Sheila Mortimer, want to thank the army of smiling volunteers – from 9am on Saturday morning to 9pm on Sunday, there were willing helpers selling tickets, mopping floors, offering delicious food, picking up speakers from Three Bridges and dealing with roving microphones. Thanks to everyone who helped make Cuckfest a buzzing, welcoming, well-organised event. And of course, thanks to our supporters who gave generously and allowed the festival to happen.
Will we do it again? Who knows? If Network Rail could be persuaded to run trains to Haywards Heath on Saturdays and Sundays, it would make life a lot easier!