Saturday, 25 July 2009
In a week where I was made to sit through all three hours of the new Harry 'the dullest hero ever written' Potter movie, I was badly in need of something to reaffirm my faith in storytelling. Luckily Spoken Ink were on hand to do just that. Run by a group of shiny, new Drama school graduates, the company are out to provide the world with an affordable way of downloading audiobooks- the best stories by the likes of Angela Carter, read by future stars of the acting world.
The event was hosted by the charming David Carter in his equally charming home/boutique hotel, 40 Winks, where on arrival I was shown to the girl's changing room, where I donned the vintage nightie and dressing gown I'd loaned from my boss at Vintage Secret. Outside in the oasis that is 40 Winks' little garden, I met some of the cast of Spoken Ink- Helen Bradbury was conspicuous in that she was wearing hiking boots and shorts rather than the obligatory bedwear. When I first spotted her, she was also crouching in the soil, rubbing dirt on her face- a little confusing until I found out she was first to read to us that night, in the character of a lost backpacker.The experience of being read to, for pleasure, is such a rare one for adults, that we forget how truly transporting it can be when done well. We are the first generation who find books turned into movies almost before they're off the shelves, and too often its easier to dedicate a couple of hours at the cinema than however long it takes to actually read the book. Envisioning characters in the mind's eye without the help of illustrators, animators or film-makers is a dying art, but one I got to exercise on Wednesday night with a group of strangers in a decadently decorated living room. Because I was in someone's home, the whole affair had the feeling of a house party, allbeit one where you've never met the other guests. But the pyjama dress code and alternative setting proved fantastic ice-breakers, and soon everyone was chatting to people they'd only just met, in a way I've also experienced recently in someone else's home- Tony Hornecker's pop up restaurant Behind the Pale Blue Door at his pad in Dalston. You instantly feel that you are amongst friends- none of you really know exactly what to expect, but you feel safely removed from the judging eyes of others in the privacy of someone's abode.Sushi and sausage rolls were served in the kitchen, and the champagne flowed all night. A brief set change and cigarette break followed the first story, before the second was read by Micheal Marlarkey- the evocative 'The Veiled Woman' by Anais Nin; not the sort of bedtime story you'd find in the nursery... Finally we were treated to an acoustic set from Amy Studt, free from the cruel clutches of teenage fame, and back with a wonderful new sound. In her one piece, pink knitted playsuit, Amy barely looks old enough to be a 'come back', but both her lyrics and voice have a dark, fragile and poignant element that speaks of her past experiences.
The evening was being covered by the Wall Street Journal, so hopefully I'll be able to post a link to their site soon. In the meantime, have a look at these snaps of me and David, as well as Amy with her brilliant guitarist Connor.