A brief note: The audio for the talk I gave at the RSA in London is now online, and you can listen to it here.
Susan, your talk was wonderful: witty and full of great insight. It is fascinating to notice the powerful parallels between evangelistic confession and the political confession – as a theatrical art form learned in church and from television evangelism.
It would have been fantastic if talk had ended with your thought-provoking insights or, even better, if you had had twice the time allocated.
Jonathan Aitken seemed to veer widely off-topic. I guess all he saw whilst reading your book was the historic doubt that his personal, sudden conversion to Christianity in prison was genuine. In the end he seemed really to be having a discussion with his own past and his detractors. His switching of the discussion to British politics seemed to be a tactic to own the platform and rather killed what could have been a great discussion with your audience about the subject of the talk.
I loved your talk on Radio 3 and 4 too. You really are a very engaging speaker as well as writer. Best wishes with The History of the Medieval World, but be sure to enjoy the holidays too!
It does sound like you got a bit blindsided by an astonishingly polite gentleman with his own agenda. I enjoy your lecture style, and your ability to present the information you want to get across and to think on your feet in front of an audience always impresses me. Under pressure, you were able to stop, think, and say, “No, I’m not going to tell you what I think about Bill Clinton.” Bravo!
I do think the Brits have a whole different take on public apology and confession, though things may be changing as the internet becomes the means for disseminating news and information. I think they’ve been “better” at public punishment and ridicule for centuries, though. Forget Oprah and public group therapy, bring out the pillory (or the Fleet Street news?).
On a more personal note…my family and I were in Britain in September for our first overseas holiday. The kids (two boys, 11 & 13) chose a lot of what they wanted to see ahead of time and items like the Rosetta Stone, the Magna Carta, and Hadrian’s Wall topped the list. We had a wonderful time. Thank you for your history program: it has enriched our lives and sent us off on wonderful rabbit trails of learning.
Great talk, Susan. I really enjoyed listening to your intelligent and very well-spoken part in this program. You stood up for yourself very well. I would have just slunk off the stage (I have a lot to learn about not being a sissy), but you were very respectful toward Mr Aitken and that showed. The audience really enjoyed you, from what I heard and I do think the very astute British gentleman took it a bit personally, which was unfortunate.
I love your professionalism when you refused to give personal opinion. I think it’s a breath of fresh air. Let’s talk about facts without everyone having to inject who they voted for or didn’t vote for. Good grief. That’s what I like about the Brits, they are unaffected and don’t really care what people think. Except for Mr Aitken of course. But his comments were interesting even if he veered widely off subject.
As an American working for a British company, I’ve had to explain several times to my colleagues that America is a bit more nuanced with regard to our religious beliefs/government than England. Their quick conclusions came through once again here.
Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed it. Happy writing. Sending good writing vibes your way until the 19th.