It’s been way too long since I volunteered at a writers festival, so I couldn’t wait to board a train on Friday afternoon to get to the Oxford Literature Festival, which runs from 24 March until 1 April. Unbelievably, we had beautiful sunshine for three days in a row and despite only having 48 hours I certainly made the best of the short weekend.
After breakfast with my host, a Korean friend who I’d met in Dublin years earlier, and a nice walk through the park, I spent Saturday afternoon at Corpus Christi College stewarding at three very different events. First up were two fabulous female writers, Australian journalist Caroline Brothers whose novel Hinterland explores issues around unaccompanied child refugees and Kamin Mohammadi whose memoir aims to build a bridge between her life in the UK and her native country of Iran. Both were fascinating stories, so my first festival day was already off to a great start.
The next event required wearing a blue witches hat as it was time for celebrating the 25th birthday of Winnie the Witch – complete with fairy cakes and lots of magic. My final event for the day was an evening of ‘worshipping’ Sylvia Plath with beautiful songs and some quite emotional personal reminiscences and readings.
Bright and early the next morning, I had a shift at the box office, which turned out to be great fun too. We had a busy day and did our best to accommodate everyone’s requests, exchange tickets, show audience members the way to various venues and reunite the odd pair of glasses with their owner. As an unexpected treat I was given tickets to talks at the Bodleian as well as the Sheldonian, which I was told I just couldn’t miss while visiting the city. It was true, both venues were architecturally absolutely stunning and were the perfect last chapter of my whirlwind festival trip to Oxford.