Earlier this month (9 December), our most illustrious ex-resident visited his old school, Leeds Modern, to officially open its library, which is now named after him. As far as we know, the last time he was at the school, which is now called Lawnswood, of course, was coincidental with the last Headingley LitFest in March. The LitFest's box of free books from World Book Night at that time consisted of copies of A Life Like Other People's, and most of them were donated by us to the school's sixth form. He read from this during both visits - the section which deals with his use of Armley Library - and added a strong condemnation of current library closures, which he described as "wrong and short-sighted... We're impoverishing young people." There were no dissenting voices.
On 4 February, which is National Libraries Day, The Library Book will be published, with contributions from the likes of Julian Barnes, Stephen Fry and himself. This will be in support of library campaigners everywhere.
He was also eloquent in his observations on fee increases for students wanting to go to university. He told his audience of students, teachers and governors that he would not have been able to go to higher education himself if the situation had been like today, because his parents simply did not have enough money to support him: "I didn't realise then how fortunate I was but soon after I left university I realised I'd been very, very lucky."
He was welcomed to the event by Deputy Head Will Carr, who is pictured below. Some of the faces in the audience were familiar, because they belonged to some of those who either participated in, or watched, the wildly successful fourth LitFest Poetry Slam at Lawnswood. Was it so many months ago?
We are hoping that the next Slam will be just as good!