Top authors share their love of Surrey for Guildford Book Festival 2009
PUBLISHED: 08:28 15 September 2010 | UPDATED: 16:16 20 February 2013
Celebrating its 20th year and newly acquired charity status, Guildford Book Festival was bigger and better than ever in October. Before the event, we asked a few of the well-known writers appearing to put pen to paper
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2009
Celebrating its 20th year and newly acquired charity status, Guildford Book Festivalwasbigger and better than ever in october. Before the event, weasked a few of the well-known writersappearing to put pen to paper and tell us what they love most about Surrey
The best-selling author of Love Lies, Tell Me Something and Young Wives Tales, who lives locally in Guildford
My favourite place in Surrey is Guildford High Street. Yes, I love the abundance of fabulous shops, which provide me with a micro-London on my doorstep, but theres more to it than that. The High Street is charming. Its cobbled with granite setts and as a market town there are distinct occasions of bustle caused by excited yummy mummies and affluent teenagers; yet Ive also found that there is often a strange almost magical hush throughout the town, suggesting the sort of calm that other places only ever achieve when it snows. Its almost as though the good people of Guildford have all invested in rubber-soled shoes; they certainly seem to talk in whispers, as though permanently in a library. Loud talking on mobile phones is very much frowned upon in Guildford High Street. I think perhaps residents would, if they could, put the offender in the stocks and throw rotten eggs (although quietly).
Well-known barrister who has worked on some of the most famous cases of the past 30 years
Surrey holds a special place in my heart. My wife, Yvette Vanson, was born in Walton-on-Thames and her family lived there for over 70 years. Most importantly, Yvettes father, Paul, was a stalwart socialist voice that carried passion and compassion in equal measure. One of the places he nurtured as a trustee with consummate skill was Painshill Park, which I visited on numerous occasions. It is both beautiful and idiosyncratic small wonder it is consistently chosen as the location for films. My enduring image, however, is of our son, Freddy, on a balmy summers evening last year, scattering his grandfathers ashes over the long, gracious sweep of grass below the Palladian folly leading down to the lake.
The acclaimed author of the popular Thursday Next series of novels and, latterly, the Nursery Crime series
My favourite spot in Surrey is the Woking Martian, a fantastically striking sculpture by Michael Condron that has terrorised Woking shoppers since 1998. Ive always been a huge fan of HG Wells and aliens and the Martian that strides awkwardly down Wokings High Street is very much the low-tech or Steampunk side of aliens a far cry from film aliens with all that slime and teeth, which is vulgar in the extreme. My only big criticism is that there is only one when I am dictator of Greater Surrey, I will insist on at least 80 more, striding about the countryside, above trees, peaking over houses, looking into peoples living rooms and generally becoming an iconic part of the landscape, much like the Osborne bulls in Spain.
Celebrity chef and host of the BBCs Saturday Kitchen
Im a Hampshire boy, but am often found flying up and down the A3 into Surrey. Being a motoring nut, Ive often been through a few of the Guildford car dealerships, including the Porsche Centre there. My interest in cars took me up to Brooklands in Weybridge a couple of years back, where I did a few things with Sir Stirling Moss as part of the celebrations for their 100th anniversary. Its great seeing all the old circuit and cars next to the new Mercedes World set-up. In fact, they bought my 1955 Mercedes Gullwing 300SL a few years ago, and where my car failed the Mille Miglia last year in my show, The Real Italian Job, it succeeded! Typical.
Author of smash-hit novels including Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman and The Second Wife, and a patron of the festival
Its true that childhood memories are the most persistent. Often in my dreams, I am again packing up my bicycle with orange juice and sandwiches and launching myself with the energy of the adolescent up the Warren Road in Guildford towards Merrow. Stashing the bike in a handy bit of undergrowth, I set off up a steepish, sandy path, bedevilled by tree roots, towards the church at the top St Marthas. Then and now, I love to think of the pilgrims on their way to Rome stopping to rest and to worship here. Perhaps they sat and chatted and ate bread and cheese? Perhaps they reflected on the journey ahead? One can never fail to be moved by the churchs sturdy endurance, its beautiful view and historic associations.
Celebrated crime novelist who is also responsible for radio and TV series such as No Commitments and After Henry
The place in Surrey I remember most distinctly now no longer exists. It was in the town centre of Sutton back in the days when Sutton had a town centre inside Shinners, the local department store. On the second floor was the toy department, where I spent seven weeks in late 1967 doing the first job I had after graduating from Oxford. The place in question was a tinsel-bedecked grotto, and I was its Father Christmas. That grotto has stayed with me, because in the toy department a 40-minute tape-loop of seasonal songs ran continuously. Fine for the average shopper, not so comfortable for a Santa stuck in his grotto for seven weeks. Even now at Christmas services, when the entire congregation is coming neatly to the end of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, I still have to restrain myself from going instinctively into Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.