Sunday
12
January
2014

Sugar, I’m divorcing you

 

 

Illustration by Mark Long in the Independent on Sunday 

“What happened when sweet-toothed Viv Groskop swore off ‘the most dangerous drug of the times’?”

Hmm. Well, I lost five pounds in four weeks, discovered falafel and felt better than I had in years. 

I had been wanting to write this piece on giving up sugar for a long time — because it was the only way I could force myself to do a sugar detox properly and document it.

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Thursday
09
January
2014

Bath Festivals: How to Jump the Ticket Queue

On our 2014 programme: Alastair Campbell, Rachel Joyce, Patricia Hodge, Jonathan Dimbleby, Jed Rubenfeld, Amy Chua, Gary Shteyngart, Jo Caulfield, Ben Watt, Lucy Porter, Philip Hensher, Michael Rosen, Douglas Alexander, Jonathan Aitken, Gabin Esler, The Incredible Spice Men, Nicky Haslam, Adele Parks, David Lodge, Mrs Moneypenny, Frieda Hughes, AL Kennedy, Boris Akunin, Olivia Laing, Lionel Shriver… and over 150 more names.

 

 

If you cannot *possibly* wait until all the tickets for the Independent Bath Literature Festival (which I’ve curated) go on general release on Mon 20 Jan, you can jump the queue as of today. Sign up here.

Here’s how it works: support Bath Festivals by becoming a Member and unlock all of our tickets now. £20 buys you PenPal status which includes this in the deal:

— Advance brochure mailing (of the lovely booklet with the candy floss on the front, which is a guide to all our events and also operates as a handy guide to all the best books out in the first quarter of 2014)

— One week priority booking on all Festival events

— Invite to exclusive supporters’ events

— Discounts and special offers with our Festival partners and our Festival bookseller, Waterstones.

Why else would you want to do this? Above and beyond all this, it is a great cause. Because Bath Festivals are a not-for-profit. Like many of the other great British arts festivals, there is no way we could do what we do without the generous support of friends, patrons, supporters and sponsors.

Plus, if you sign up as a PenPal and tweet me about it, I’ll send you bespoke reading recommendations. I will flood you with them until you ask me to stop. Just tweet me at @vivgroskop

I loved what Philip Hensher (who’s with us on 3 March talking about “Bliss is… Wagner”) said in his recent piece about “putting the arts at the heart of our society”: “This should be a golden age for readers but it feels like the end of days.” Except I don’t think it is the end of days. I am willing to bet £20 that it is just the beginning of days.

More on all the Bath events on sale now and from 20 Jan here.

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Tuesday
07
January
2014

BBC R4’s Woman’s Hour: New Year’s Resolutions

 

Talking on R4’s Woman’s Hour about the futility of New Year’s Resolutions with Jenny Eclair and Jane Garvey. Although I spoke up for CHANGE and generally embraced an Oprah-style message… 

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Monday
06
January
2014

YouTube: Intro to Bath Literature Festival

 

For a video guide to the events featuring me wearing a slightly ill-advised leopardskin sequin cardigan, click here

 

 

The launch for the Independent Bath Literature Festival is well underway! For a more detailed run-down of the programme, check out the Bath Magazine where I am (not inaccurately) described as a “candy floss lover”. (The brochure features a huge picture of candy floss on the cover.)

Superhot tip for now: buy tickets for Austentatious and Germaine Greer while you still can. My own favourites: the Great Bath News DebateJennifer Saunders and our fantastic foodie events with superchef Mark Hix, Jewish food legend Claudia Roden (or at least that’s how I think of her because I love The Book of Jewish Food)  and Jane Austen culinary scholar Pen Vogler’s Literary Lunch with Mr Darcy.

 

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Sunday
05
January
2014

How to be a Heroine

 

 

I loved Samantha Ellis’ unusual, original memoir about literary heroines, a Red Book of the Month and reviewed in more detail for the Observer.

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Thursday
02
January
2014

Bath Literature Festival 2014: Programme Launch

 Today the full programme for the Independent Bath Literature Festival, 28 Feb to 9 March 2014, is revealed! 10 days, 180+ authors, 20,000+ tickets. I’m the Artistic Director and this is my first year in the job. This year’s theme? Bliss.

New names unveiled today: Alastair Campbell, Rachel Joyce, Patricia Hodge, Jonathan Dimbleby, Jed Rubenfeld, Amy Chua, Gary Shteyngart, Jo Caulfield, Ben Watt, Lucy Porter, Philip Hensher, Michael Rosen, Douglas Alexander, Jonathan Aitken, Gabin Esler, The Incredible Spice Men, Nicky Haslam, Adele Parks, David Lodge, Mrs Moneypenny, Frieda Hughes, AL Kennedy, Boris Akunin, Olivia Laing, Lionel Shriver… Er, is that enough? (That is not everyone. I’ll be blogging regular guides to the programme over the next few weeks as it’s hard to get your head around 180+ events.)

Here’s how to buy tickets: Jennifer Saunders goes on general release for the first time today. I’ll be interviewing her in the Forum about her book Bonkers and whether she is ever going to get around to writing the movie of Absolutely Fabulous. And whether Goldie Hawn is as awful as she sounds. It will be a very intellectual discussion indeed.

On sale as Early Bird releases: Hanif KureishiHenry BlofeldClaudia RodenMark HixAustentatiousRowan WilliamsMark Watson and the Great Big Comedy Night (I’m MCing), Joanna TrollopeThe Great Bath News Debate with Intelligence Squared featuring Alain de Botton, Jon Snow and Jonathan Dimbleby, Germaine Greer.

All the rest of the tickets you can buy now if you sign up as a Friend of the Festival, from £20. Details here. Membership gets you an advance brochure mailing, priority booking and invitations to exclusive events.

All tickets go on general release on January 20. Enjoy!

 

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Wednesday
01
January
2014

Events: New for 2014

 

New update Events for 2014 including The Night I Died at LOCO Festival on Sunday 26 January, I Laughed, I Cried at the Independent Bath Literature Festival at Komedia Bath at 4.30pm on Friday 7 March, the Great Big Comedy Night with Mark Watson, Mary Bourke and Gemma Whelan at 7pm on Friday 7 March and I Laughed, I Cried: The Show Version 2.0 at Cambridge WordFest on Saturday 5 April. Click here for all Events.

Above: discussion on Soviet propaganda posters at GRAD (Gallery of Russian Art and Design) on 22 January.

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Thursday
26
December
2013

Downton Christmas Special

 

 

 

Downton Christmas Not-Very-Special. No? Review here. Warning: spoilers. Not that anything happened.

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Saturday
21
December
2013

Strictly finals for the Observer

 

 

This was on a super fast turnaround for the Observer — the results were announced at 9.49pm and the piece was due at 9.50pm. It went to press at 10pm. Copy filed with plenty of time to spare for walnut-pickling.

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Friday
20
December
2013

On Saturday Review

 

 

With Tom Sutcliffe, Stephanie Merritt and Kevin Jackson on Saturday Review on BBC Radio 4, talking about PD James’ Death Comes to Pemberley, Anchorman 2, Christos Tsiolkas’ Barracuda, The Tractate Middoth and Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Stephen Ward. Really enjoyed recording this.

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