It felt as if all the stars in the universe aligned at Voewood this weekend.
And I don’t mean literary or music stars, though there were plenty of those too.
Voewood House, a stunning Arts and Crafts pile in deepest Norfolk, was last weekend the site of the first annual Voewood literary/music/art festival and garden party.
The sun shone, the house and gardens were breathtaking, and I can’t remember a happier, friendlier, more eccentric, delicious, exciting 24 hours.
The American poet in the outrageous socks who lives in Kensington (“alimony, honey”) stepped aside for the man in the storm-trooper-game-keeper outfit with the camera attached to his helmet (“the best thing about the camera is that it’s waterproof, so if I go off the road, it’ll film the fall to 200 feet under water!”).
There was a brilliant garden and architecture historian (Wade Graham) leading a walking tour around house and gardens — from LA, of course (who but an American would speak with such knowledge and affection about the English Arts and Crafts?)
Misha Glenny was tolerant of my dyslexic identification of him with Evelyn Glennie, the deaf (so-called) percussionist.
Unpublished writers read from their manuscripts and much advice ensued (“Self-publish! Ditch your agent!”). Gavin Turk’s stripy qaudri-unicycle was never without four enthusiastic riders. The kids were all beautiful, the masterclasses sold out, and there are sushi chefs in Tokyo wishing they’d invented the cromer crab sushi.
Richard Strange read from his memoir about the first time he shared a stage with the Sex Pistols (1975?) and knew that it was all over for him and his band. We had to leave before Adam Ant went on stage, but by then I was saturated with culture and happiness.
OK, so it helps to own a stunningly beautiful country house, and possess the wit and organisational powers to put on an inspirational, magical, enthralling three-day show. But festivals are so easy to get wrong.
And Voewood was perfect, thanks to Simon Finch and Clare Conville. I can’t remember when I’ve seen so many beaming, joyous readers, writers, musicians and general hangers on.
If anyone invites you to next year’s Voewood festival, say yes immediately. Really.