Well the first weekend of our 2007 MWF celebrations has been and gone and we have started again with a bang - or at the very least some desperately sore feet from strolling and sore ribs from laughing.
Starting off on Thursday - we met up in the centre of Melbourne for a chocolate walking tour. This took us around a number of chocolate makers in the central area of the city, looking at chocolate making, hearing about chocolate making and EATING chocolate. Aside from a slight tendency to feel ever so slightly sicky by the end - it was great fun. That day also involved collecting Helen and her luggage from the city and heading back to our MWF headquarters (or the place where the booze is stored). Sunnie had already arrived on Thursday so we were all finally ready to go. Helen showed up with a cold even though we keep telling her we'll feed her lime margueritas even if she doesn't have a cold. So a good laugh, dinner, medications of a ranging variety and off to bed for a 6.00am start on Saturday and our first set of panels.
(Helen and Sunnie also raised Kill City on the Friday but they can tell you what they bought on their own blogs - I was too depressed they went without me to pay attention).
Saturday 25th was the first day at the festival proper. We started off the morning with a bit of disappointment as Julie Zeh had cancelled, so all 6 of us ended up at A Forensic Examination with Jeffrey Deaver - interviewer was James Phelan. Jeffrey talked a bit about his background (being a poet doesn't get the girls - writing and performing folk songs was only marginally better), through to how he studied (and ultimately practiced) law and into how he wrote his first couple of books. He also described the extensive outlining and research phase for each of his books (about 8 months) and the writing process (about 2-3 months). They then talked about the method by which he invented the central character in The Bone Collector and other books in that series, along with his new series starting Catherine (I think her surname is Dane).
Lunch then called and, well wine o'clock - so off we went for a snack and a browse through the icecream counter before returning and taking up residence in a corner of the courtyard surrounded by books, newspapers, crossword puzzles, sudoku puzzles, coffee cups, empty bottles, in other words - got comfy.
We then headed off to Detainee 002 - Leigh Sales, Robert Richter and Arie Frieberg discussing Leigh's book about the David Hicks case. She discussed how the book is non-fiction but written in a narrative style, and after reading out a number of passages and a fascinating and most thought-provoking discussion of the issues around the Hicks case - we charged off to the book tent to get our own copies.
Saturday night we were lucky enough to have selected Tjanabi as our restaurant for the opening night dinner - all I can say is WOW - the food was magnificent, the restaurant staff wonderfully obliging and a magnificent night was had by all - I'll post separately about this restaurant - can't praise it highly enough - they did not even get too fussed when Sunnie tried to burn the place down
Got caught in the football traffic on the way home - ICK - so very late night, very hungry puppy when we got back and another, not quite so early start for Sunday.
On Sunday, Kerrie and Bob headed off first thing in the morning to see Clive Robertson and Peter Craven. Bob finished that session saying that he could resist Clive James no more and off he went to purchase the book.
The rest of us strolled in a bit later and set up in the lovely warm sun, again with coffee or whatever whilst Helen and Adam headed off to Creative Commons or Common Theft - copyright, licensing and other issues. Both of them came out of that session talking 10 to the dozen about how much they enjoyed it (Adam owes Kerrie a paper on the subject!). Adam then went off to Future Imperfect whilst the rest of us repaired to a sandwich / salad lunch. Then Adam went to This Just In From Cyberspace and came out enamoured utterly with Cory Doctorow's philosophy and methods for working with the internet - went and bought one of his books (which he had signed), returned with the happy news that Cory's fiance uses dotProject and spent the rest of Sunday reading a few pages, peering intently at the rest of us and reassuring us CONSTANTLY that this was a fabulous book - check out his blog at http://blogs.sakienvirotech.com/random he'll either write that up immediately because he wants to rave or you might want to give him a day or so in case he can't drag his nose out of the book any time soon. Whilst he was there the rest of us went to see People Like us with Waleed Aly which was talking about him and his book People Like Us. This was a discussion which ranged through a number of issues to do with Islam and the Muslim experience in Australia and other locations. Marvellous session, the moderator opening up the discussion after a number of well structured questions from himself to points from the floor. Waleed Aly managed to provide indepth and thought provoking answers to some hairy issues with great good humour and immense clarity. Extremely good session - thoroughly pleased that we opted to go to it.
Next up was Morbid Fascinations with Jeffrey Deaver, Helen Fitzgerald and Geoffrey Cousins - I'll have to let the others comment on that - we missed it as Adam's session ran a little over time, then he wanted to get his book signed, then Rory Ellis showed up in the festival club and I wanted to listen to his music (haven't heard him for years), and well it was wine o'clock and I needed a champagne desperately.
We finished the night with Winds of Change with Rob Watts, Mark Peal and Matthew Ricketson (moderated by up and coming 774 personality Hilary Harper) discussing the methods and shortcomings by which public policy is developed in Australia - absolutely fascinating and extremely worthwhile listening to. It raised enough issues to keep us talking for most of the 1 hour journey home.
One light dinner, tasting of the company scrumpy, and off to bed - frankly - utterly cream crackered.
El Dorado - Dorothy Porter (I was vaguely sceptical of crime fiction done in verse and all I can say is - don't listen to me - I'm an idiot - this is fabulous)
People Like Us - Waleed Aly (Saw the man, needed to read the book - badly)
Affluenze - Clive Hamilton (I heard this book discussed a while ago on the radio and I've been meaning to get it for quite a while)
Word Watching - field notes form an amateur philologist - Julian Burnside (Admire the man tremendously, love books about words)
Do Not Disturb - Is the Media Failing Australia? (Adam saw this selection of essays on the Australian media and had to have it - now he just has to get Sunnie to hurry up and finish it
Detainee 002 - Leigh Sales
The Man Who Knew Too Much, David Leavitt (Story of Alan Turing)
Over Clocked, Cory Doctorow (Needless to say I doubt this is the last one of this author we'll see in this house............. )