When she interviewed me for her podcast, Yang May and I discovered a common passion for libraries and storytelling. I hope my stories are global but they arise from the web of connections to all continents that you find in Oxford. You can listen to the podcast on the link below. I am not the only one who thinks Oxford is the Hollywood of Stories. I castaway Tish Francis and Kim Pickin who founded the Story Museum in Pembroke Street Oxford a stones throw from where Alice and Lewis Carroll first met. It was so sad that the refurbished museum couldn’t open on April 4 last year.
During the twenty years I wrote features for the magazines of The Oxford Times, I interviewed over eight hundred people and many of them in depth. The Oxford Castaway series( see BOOKS) was a privilege to write. The interview with Peggy Seeger took four hours . We became friends and she sang at the KOA Fifties Fandango .
That was much faster than Qu Leilei who took three years! Qu Leilei Castaway
The honour was brought home to me when Colin Greenwood of Radiohead was on Saturday Live and admitted that he had been reluctant to talk about himself. But, in 2013, he let himself be sent to Oxtopia. You can read my feature here. Colin Greenwood Castaway Charlotte Bannister Parker and I managed to persuade Colin to support KOA’s efforts to raise money for the Children’s Radio Foundation and be interviewed by a Kennington sixth former at our Bandwaves Concert. In Sculpting the Elephant, my protagonist Harry King set up his business- Deco-rators opposite the Jericho Tavern where Radiohead , Ride and Supergrass began their careers.
Another great performer who found it hard talking one to one to someone he didn’t know was the entomologist George McGavin. George was on Desert Island Discs last week . He was open about his stammer . I was surprised when I interviewed him because I had watched him as Dr Bug entertaining children and as an effective after-dinner speaker.
I am not used to talking about myself and even in the interview with Yang May Ooi, I couldn’t help talking about other people! But two of the castaways I talk about changed my life. Hearing Leilei’s courageous story led to Brushstrokes in Time . Nancy Mudenyo Hunt’s told her childhood story for the first time in her interview with me. That led to us writing Not so Black and White together.