I was sitting up late the other evening inching towards the end of a new novel I am writing about the Keenan’s: essentially based on my own family. It’s called The Satellites of Jupiter and is set in Newcastle between 1946 and 1963. It was after midnight and Radio Two was playing in the background. The singer/songwriter Kathryn Williams happened to be on, picking tracks, and talking about her current music tour with a band called The Pond. During her conversation with Janice Long she mentioned the Literary and Philosophical Society, giving the place its full title, and saying how much she enjoys sitting round the big table in the Committee Room on Wednesdays, writing and discussing poetry.
How brilliant of Kathryn to give a big shout up to the Lit and Phil, and for the creative writing workshops the Society hosts there. It’s always a thrill to curve up the stone steps of left hand staircase (after toying with the notion of taking the right) then walking through the doors to the library. I love running the Wednesday writing sessions, and always get a sense that all the writers who come along appreciate how lucky we are to be able to work in such an illustrious setting.
The Literary and Philosophical Society has so much grandeur and history, yet everyone who helps in the upkeep and running of the place is warm and welcoming. It is very much of the past and very much of the present. To me it’s a place of continuous rootedness, the past and present both anchor it, and make it richly relevant.