A very short introduction to… Everything – Cheltenham Literature Festival REVIEW

Did you know…

…a mega tsunami can do damage even if its across oceans? That physical measurements such as Volt and Amp have a capital letter as they are named after their creators? And that politics were a huge part of the gothic era?

Was that a short enough introduction? That seems to be what the authors of these books specialise in. These experts are currently celebrating their 500th edition of the book, ‘A very short introduction to measurement’.

img_0656Huddled in the Spiegeltent surrounded by coloured glass windows, luxurious red velvet furnishings and free wine (woo) we were indulged with the knowledge from five expert writers. Bill McGuire on global catastrophes, John Finney on water, David Hand on measurement, Dana Arnold on art history and Nick Groom on gothic.

In my opinion, the unique format of this event made it what it was. The audience were split into five tables of around fifteen to twenty and then each given around ten minutes with each expert. This allowed for more immersive and conversational atmosphere, meaning you automatically felt less nervous about not knowing anything about the subject.

Each expert’s passion was just as infectious as the last and every word made me desperate to learn. Faces around the room lit up in unison and after an hour of head nodding and realisation “ahhh’s”, the event had come to a close.

The talks made me feel like I was part of an top secret elite club, like I had snuck into MENSA or something. The experts explained their areas in a way that was relatable but not patronising, something you aren’t always blessed with. A civilised and enjoyable afternoon of intellectual stimulation.

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