10:00am Saturday 31st March 2012
By Jeremy Smith
Since realising my genes could be worth a bob or two – thanks to Donna Dickenson’s Thursday debate on science and finance – I thought it might be wily to attend a talk by financial guru and broadcaster Alvin Hall.
Billed succinctly as ‘The Stock Market Explained’, I was convinced an hour in the presence of Alvin would alleviate any fears I’ve had over pension provisions.
But like a cross between Gordon Gekko and Sammy Davis Jnr, Alvin left me with no doubt I was doomed.
Still, I can’t blame him – only myself for not having had the good sense to hear him speak 25 years ago.
If I had, I’d probably now own the Oxford Mail instead of just being a joyously contented employee with a munificent salary.
Celebrating more than a quarter century on Wall Street, Alvin spoke with all the giddy passion of a five-year old on Christmas morning.
God was it infectious. If this man had told me to invest my entire – and substantial – overdraft in Enron, I would have, blissfully.
Had I spent any longer in his company, chances are I’d have sold my parents off on eBay to fuel my investment portfolio. However, because today is Saturday, I’d also like to talk about some of the free events you can enjoy in the Christ Church Meadows Marquee.
Every day, without fail, extraordinarily brave individuals stand on a pimped-up orange box to talk for 10 minutes on anything from angels to environmental economics.
In fact, calling them ‘brave’ is an understatement – trying to win an audience from among the hordes pushing their way through the marquee requires nerves of steel.
The one I caught, Dictionaries: A Very Short Introduction by the wonderfully monikered Lynda Mugglestone was – oh, what’s the word – BRILLIANT. Like so many events at the festival, the title proved misleading.
It may have sounded dry and brittle, like someone with a blue rinse and whiff of Yardley lavender, but actually boasted all the fun and thrills of a Blue Peter special.
Similarly unmissable – and free – is Dippy the Diplodocus’s daily whistle stop tour through four billions years of life on Earth.
Chaperoned by the bow-tied Christopher Lloyd, it’s 45 minutes of pure inventive delight, perfect for anyone aged five to 112.
All I hope is that this weekend is free of jumpers and scarves… If anything marked yesterday out as ‘different’ from what has been a week of literary fiesta, it was the weather – chilly, grey and decidedly grim.
A shame, since authors who write classics in attics just look better with a five o’clock glow.
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