Oh, that I could be so interesting for 5 minutes, let alone speak solo eloquently and intriguingly for 30 minutes in front of a packed Liberty Hall.
Simon Schama – he of “A History of Britain” fame, and several others since – was in town as part of the Dublin Writers’ Festival to promote his new book, “The American Future: A History”, and hold a public conversation on its subject matter with Fintan O’Toole.
Schama is funny, sprinkles his speech with anecdotes and, without stating his opinion outright, makes it fairly clear he feels the current administration is an improvement. O’Toole asks long questions but evokes useful elaborations on several of the topics Schama skims over in his whirlwind 30 minute opening address. The floor is opened up to the audience for the final third of the evening and produces some useful conversation openers, including a question on what Schama has learnt about himself in the course of the work.
A fine evening, all in all, the only downer being – perhaps unsurprisingly – Liberty Hall itself, as ugly within as without with a tiny lobby and an inexplicable delay beforehand in which 500 people cram into the small upstairs bar waiting for the doors to open (late).
Afterwards, I get an autographed copy of the new book; while struggling to decipher my accent:
Make it out to whom? Charles? … Oh, Trevor – I wasn’t even close, was I!
UPDATE, June 14th: This week’s Financial Times diary is by Simon Schama, writing in part about the shameful history being uncovered during his trip to Dublin