Sunday 9th October
Durham Town Hall
Review by Melis Anik
By the time I take my place at the back of the queue, I can’t help but be surprised by the sheer amount of people that surround me. I’ve attended quite a lot of events this weekend, but it’s the first time that I’ve seen a room fill up so quickly. As I watch the excited faces of the families that surround me, I feel optimistic about what is to come.
People chat excitedly as the hustle and bustle of the outside becomes confined to a single room. However, the chatter soon fades as James makes his way down the middle of the aisle. Once seated on the stage, brief introductions are made and the event officially begins.
From revealing the heartfelt fact that he wrote his book as a letter to his dying dad, to reading funny excerpts of the book itself, it’s clear why the attendance for this event is so high. Throughout the event, Rebanks has chance to cover a range of topics including: an article he wrote for the Atlantic Monthly, his friends from the farm he works on, and the years he’d spent reading everything he could about the Lake district. I expected to hear an author talk about his life before the book, instead I found out that nothing much had changed.
From the anecdotes to the extracts, James’ pride surrounding his ongoing job as a shepherd was paramount. From mentioning his lucky writing break aged forty, to the financial difficulties surrounding the farming industry, he somehow manages to keep things entertaining. It’s this great balance between being serious and funny that keeps things interesting. He might have written a bestseller, but one thing remained clear; his role as a shepherd and his farm was still as important as ever.