Clive James in Conversation

The title here is very much self-explanatory. This critic-proof event, the queue of ticket holders awaiting entry stretching well down George Street twenty minutes before the start, entails the eponymous interlocutor and a different guest each day holding a civilised conversation on stage before a audience. Surely the quality of the experience depends greatly on the guest of the day and the mood they are in.

Fortunately the invitee this day was the novelist, Independent columnist, Radio 4 stalwart and quondam teenage table tennis fiend Howard Jacobson. Loquacious and articulate, he needed little prompting from the host to talk and the two of them were soon engaged in a cosy, but not complacent, discourse that took in Chris Hoy’s (English when he wins) Lycra-clad thighs, F R Leavis, Iraq and Jewish identity, amongst other things.

This format suits James well. Somebody once described him as a counterpuncher and so it proves here as Jacobson does most of the talking and the Antipodean bruiser stepping in under the flurry of words to land a telling shot of his own.

But this is why I only gave four stars instead of five. The nearly full room had come, as had I, to see Clive James. This showed up at the Q and A session at the end where a well meaning and well entertained audience had very little to ask Mr. Jacobson, with whose work I am totally unfamiliar although well aware of who he is.

But if you want to spend an hour drawn into a space where you feel that you would like to pull up a chair, sit down with a cuppa and join in with a pair of erudite and intelligent speakers and laugh along with them, you cannot go wrong here.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Theatre MAD
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The Blurb

Writer, broadcaster and raconteur, Clive James has been a British institution for longer than he cares to remember. Catch him in conversation with the literati and glitterati of Edinburgh's Festivals. Guests announced daily. See www.clivejamesguests.com

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