On train home from an extraordinary evening at The Slaughtered Lamb. MEAT was the penultimate event in the London Word Festival (www.londonwordfestival.com). Tim Wells poems about his local caff (frequented by Gilbert and George) was the hors d’oeuvre to fellow Yorkshire man’s Ross Raisin’s clever and charismatic reading from God’s Own Country. But the main course was very definitely Joseph D’Lacy reading MEAT. And yes I felt physically sick as the extract traced a human victims’ plight through an abattoir and slaughter house for crimes against a cow. Reminiscent in a way of Orwell, Golding and Burgess – D’Lacy simply pushed harder at the door of man’s potential inhumanity to man in his bleak apocalyptic vision.
Above all though it was a reminder of the power of the novel being read aloud to an audience. As reader it is possible to skim read, to skip, to scan. Being read to – slowly, seriously and with an audience you hear every word, you anticipate each brutal action of the knife, hear each scream. It’s horrible, gruesome but incredibly powerful and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Even if it did make my stomach turn.