Talk is really off the wall

Oxford Mail: Henry Porter talks to the audience, with Wootton’s Berlin Wall behind him Henry Porter talks to the audience, with Wootton’s Berlin Wall behind him

Residents built a miniature Berlin Wall to welcome a spy novelist giving a talk to raise money for their village hall.

Henry Porter, the author of Berlin-based Brandenburg, was stunned when he arrived at Wootton-by-Woodstock village hall, to find residents had designed the backdrop as a tribute.

The village hall committee has lined up a series of high-profile speakers, which also includes historian Laurence Rees, BBC Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer, QI inventors John Lloyd and John Mitchinson, and former Cabinet minister Lord Howe.

Retired doctor Marlene Fisher, who is on the village hall committee, carried out research on the Internet to make sure the graffiti on the plasterboard wall was authentic.

And villagers — including those who have worked on a number of James Bond movies — spent hours painting the set.

Mr Porter, the London editor of Vanity Fair, said: “I love the wall they have designed and it’s very flattering that people have gone to so much trouble.”

One villager who helped to paint the plasterboard wall was Viola Colditz, 38, part of the special effects team for the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

She was a 19-year-old living in West Berlin when the wall came down 20 years ago and said: “I really enjoyed Henry’s talk — it was like taking a journey back into my own history.

“I was working in a café on the night the wall came down and my friends came running in to tell me what had happened.

“It was an amazing time.”

Journalist Andrew Morgan, who invited Mr Porter to give the talk, added: “Brandenburg is set at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, so we felt it was appropriate to construct our own version, complete with spot-lit branches to create an eerie effect.

“Henry really appreciated our efforts and the evening raised about £350 for the village hall funds, with Rachel Phipps from the bookshop in Woodstock selling lots of his books.”

BBC Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer is giving his talk on Friday, February 13.

For further information about the series, visit woottontalks.co.uk affrench@oxfordmail.co.uk

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