I've a couple of events coming up that I really want to tell you about. If you're anywhere near them here in the Midlands, it would be a treat to see you.
June 1, 2013: Gillian Bailey at Kaleidoscope
It'll be at the Kaleidoscope event at the Talbot Hotel, Stourbridge, (map) from 3pm. Admission free but donations to RNLI encouraged. Add to Calendar
I met Gilli for the first time last year while researching a book about a show she only briefly appears in. So briefly that I nearly didn't contact her. But I'm so pleased I did because she is funny and fascinating and her academic career is so interesting that sometimes we both had to promise to get back to the subject of the book. I still can't tell you what the book is but to save you scouring Gilli's ridiculously long list of credits on IMDb, let me say that this one begins with "B" and ends "lake's 7".
Dr Gilli Bush-Bailey is a professor of women's theatre and this is a rare chance to hear her talk about her work and her acting. I think it's a bit of a tribute to Kaleidoscope that they managed to get her and I am chuffed that I'm the one who gets to natter with her on stage.
If you've ever heard of a lost TV show being miraculously recovered, the odds are that Kaleidoscope was involved. It is a non-profit organisation that preserves and catalogues and archives British television. This is its 25th anniversary year and I think I've been using their books for most of that time.
I used to write a thing in Radio Times called On This Day – it was easily my favourite gig of all my favourite gigs at RT – and it involved a lot of studying back issues of the magazine. Actually, it shouldn't have been quite such a lot but it's impossible not to get absorbed by the job. It was an immense benefit to me that Birmingham Central Library had a set of Radio Times issues and I would spend a long and delicious time there, eventually coming to notice that so were some other people.
I remember struggling to find a fact I was after and becoming very aware that there must've been five people with their laptops out on the desks near me, all using RT back issues and all typing very fast. I promise you, I looked at them and I knew. Kaleidoscope, I said. Yes, they said – and here's that fact you were after.
Tremendous people, doing an overwhelming job and making my research work infinitely easier. Have a look at their event site for details of everything at the 1 June event and their books for the reference works they have for sale. When I met them that time, I had a couple of their spiral bound drama books. A couple of years ago I bought the ten-volume perfect-bound set. And last year I bought the new PDF version of this stuff. It is ferociously annoying: I put the PDFs on my Dropbox folder and so now there is nowhere I can go that I can't just take a little peek and end up spending hours entirely absorbed.
Kaleidoscope was also a great help with my book, BFI TV Classics: The Beiderbecke Affair and it's funny that I should mention that to you because that's what the other June event is about.
June 13, 2013: Meet local author William Gallagher
The Beiderbecke Affair. It's at the Drop Forge pub, 6-10 Hockley Street, Birmingham, B18 6LB (map) from 7:30pm to around 9pm ish. Admission free. Add to calendar.
The group meets monthly or so for a drink in this most gorgeous pub which has these nooks and crannies dotted around. It's all very informal and you get to talk properly: I've been to a couple of events just to see what it was like and have been thoroughly entertained by speakers like novelist Anna Laurence Pietroni, organiser Simon Stokes and everyone I happened to sit next to.
Have a look at Simon's Meetup page for details of the group and the other speakers coming up, would you?
Which reminds me, I've got a new website as of today and it even plays nice with mobile phones. It doesn't mention any events. I've just realised that now. Um.