Speaking at the historic Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay on 5th March, Trevor Fishlock (writer, journalist and broadcaster) captivated an attentive audience with tales of his times as foreign correspondent for The Times in India, Russia and America, home correspondent here in Wales, as well as his later research, writings and broadcasting career.
For Trevor, adventure stories read as a boy were re-lived later in life when walking through the Khyber Pass in order to gain subversive entry into Afghanistan in the 1980's. Similar childhood reading lept to reality when accompanying an Indian police team in search of bandits in a particularly turbulent Province. At the end of an unproductive day the team turned their attention to wild boar hunting with greater success. A story seemingly straight from the days of the Raj and the extensive literature that recount them, but experienced for real in 1970s India.
Many of us won't have the chance to re-live our fiction reading through real life adventure, as Trevor has. [As an avid reader of crime fiction perhaps that's a good thing!] Nor will we be blessed with meeting Mother Teresa and being told, with contemporary resonance for the Leveson Report, that "even journalists can do the work of the Lord". Despite this, books can and should play a vital role in modern life. Books are vehicles for escape, adventure, education and so much more.
"even journalists can do the work of the Lord" Mother Teresa.
In our comparatively cosy worlds we will do well to remember the value of books and information. In living memory, librarians in former Russian states secretly stored collections of banned books, bravely protecting them from destruction, but sharing their information whenever safe to do so. Under such oppression books provided a valued "window onto a world of sanity" and equally truth.
Trevor describes himself as an "inveterate library user" using books to "uncover the 'telling' details of history". In this fascinating lecture, Trevor exuded huge respect for the world of publishing, for the craft of well written prose, and implicitly for libraries and the hugely skilled and professional staff that make them street corner universities, engaging community spaces and places for escape or recovery.
I hope that your experiences and celebrations of World Book Day are equally as enjoyable and thought-provoking! With thanks to the Welsh Books Council for their kind invitation and for organising this enjoyable event. Further information about WBD is available here.
Enjoy World Book Day!
Image: Trevor Fishlock speaking at the Welsh Books Council World Book Day Lecture at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay on Tuesday 5th March 2013, (c) CILIP Cymru Wales.