Wolverhampton Literature Festival 2018 – A Great City Initiative!

Wolverhampton Literature Festival 2018 – A Great City Initiative!

Now I am not sure how successful the Wolverhampton Literature Festival has been over this last week end. It seems to have courted a bit of controversy with its debate about the Enoch Powell Rivers of Blood speech. That certainly made news headlines! I couldn’t attend that event. But I have read the news reports about the event, and the protests that had been threatened.

Supporting this festival this year, has been The Arts Council, The Express and Star, University of Wolverhampton, Creative Black Country, Wolverhampton College, Lighthouse, Newhampton Art Centre, Wild Bytes Café, and Lych Gate.

The actual event I chose to watch and attend was the return of Peter Rhodes to Wolverhampton, with a description about his job as a Journalist and the far flung places he had reported from, and visited. It was a fascinating hour, as we cantered through the famous people in history he had been fortunate to interview.

This event took place in that wonderful building here in the City, our own Wolverhampton Arts Gallery.

It was a very interesting hour as Peter spoke about his time on trips organised by the Ministry of Defence, the war in the former Republic of Yugoslavia, the stories he had filed with the Express and Star, aabout his time in Hong Kong.

He told some fascinating stories about his time at the Express and Star, and the audience loved him.

Peter Rhodes didn’t know that I was in the audience, and I hadn’t seen him to speak with for very many years. But I was delighted and amused when he spoke warmly of one of his adventures to the ‘Top of the World’ to rescue one of Britain’s most intrepid explorers – Mr Pen Hadow!

He was amusing as well as factual, with regards to this part of his life story! How do I know? Well as Peter explained to the audience. I had called him one day in late April 1998 and asked him if he would like to accompany me on this trip to the North Pole.

It has been one of the highlights of my life, so I was delighted to hear that our adventures to Resolute Bay in Canada, was also one of his own ‘best adventures’ ever.

We met after the show, and as we greeted each other warmly, we spoke of those adventures in 1998. In truth I would have liked a little more time with him and his wife, but they were on a tight schedule. He was kind enough to suggest that the years had been kind to me…

I enjoyed this part of the Wolverhampton Literature Festival, not just because I became a feature of the experiences of a major speaker. But the audience which was sizable also clearly enjoyed the humorous way Mr Rhodes spoke of his life and his adventures, and the places and the history he had shared with us all through the columns of our own Local Express and Star!. My hope is that the City repeats Wolverhampton Literature Festival again next year, and that it becomes a firm favourite in the years going forward.

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more