Photo courtesy of Amy Davies
By Caitlin Mehta (@CaitlinMehta)
Every now and then when reading a book I’ll struggle to find a book mark. While I used to use the (barbaric) method of folding down the corner when I was young and foolish, the older and more considerate me now opts for old train tickets, receipts (for food most likely) and occasionally the odd post-it note. This may seem completely unrelated to the fact that a few of my course mates and I went to hear Russell Brand give The Reading Agency’s annual lecture, but bear with me!
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this evening: was it going to be a serious affair? How could it be with Russell Brand as the guest speaker? Would he focus on books? What’s his favourite book? Would he talk about political affairs? Would it just be about reading? I should have already been able to answer a lot of these questions based on my knowledge of him. It’s funny that feeling of familiarity we get when thinking of celebrities we’ve actually never met. Having grown up hearing about this man constantly in the news and seeing him prance around in an (admittedly) hypnotic manner on my television screen I should have known.
It wasn’t all jokes but at the same time it wasn’t deadly serious or even the ‘b word’ (boring) either. There is something about Russell Brand when he gets going on a good rant that you just can’t ignore. Perhaps it’s the purposefully intricate vocabulary he utilises that you may not have previously understood, but do now however due to the context and manner in which he so eloquently weaves it into his speech (that was a pretty good attempt at his style of speaking, right?).
The narrative theme of Russell’s lecture (a title I would use very loosely), was to explain what reading meant to him as he read extracts from books gifted to him by family, fans and other famous people. One particular highlight was his rendition of an early chapter of Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. Before mocking the crude seeming, old-fashioned names ‘Dick’ and ‘Fanny’ in typical Russell style (there I go pretending I know him personally again), he went on to explain to the audience that this book, bestowed upon him by Auntie Pat, showed him that books could open portals to other worlds. This is a notion that I feel some adults forget as life gets in the way of reading for pleasure.
Whilst reading from these books I suddenly noticed that curiously, much like myself, Russell Brand also seemed not to be in possession of a real bookmark. Sure enough as the comedian worked his way through the hefty stack of books he brought on stage it appeared that in each one he had marked his place with a bright pink post-it note. One of these even got stuck to his trousers much to my amusement.
I realise this was not the main message to take away from the evening. Books really are fantastic; libraries are too. That was the eventual point of the long-winded lecture. However to me, the makeshift post-it bookmarks were a sharp reminder that yes he is a “celebrity” but still a human being not so far flung from myself. A human being with flairs and flaws who likes to read stories both factual and fictional as a means of escapism. It is stories, as Muriel Ruysker was quoted as saying, that make up the universe.
That and funny men with long hair and pink post-its stuck to their legs!
Check out Caitlin’s blog at www.caitlinlouisemehta.wordpress.com