The Book Grocer

By Julie PH Last edited 120 months ago
The Book Grocer
Random trivia of the week: In what role did a 5-year-old Michael Palin make his acting debut in his preparatory school’s performance of A Christmas Carol? You’ll find the answer (it’s not as obvious as you might think) – and more appearances by both Palin and everyone’s favourite quintessential London Christmas tale – after the jump.*

Wednesday: Two chances this week to attend a candlelit reading of A Christmas Carol at the Dickens Museum, the first of which is this evening. For better or for worse, the public imagination has been in the thrall of this Man Who Invented Christmas for well over a century and a half now. Respect is due. (Call 020 7405 2127 for ticket details.)

Also on: Waterstone’s Gower Street hosts A Christmas Extravaganza from 6 to 9pm with enough author signings to last you all Twelve Days of Christmas. Confirmed attendees include (deep breath now): Marcus Chown, Nicholas Crane, Tibor Fischer, Ben Goldacre, Tony Hawks, Tom Holland, Richard Holmes, Judy Parkinson, Andy Riley, Laurence Rees, Ben Schott, David Starkey, John Sutherland and Christopher Winn. (Free, but donations collected for Dyslexia Action.)

Poet’s choice: The 400th birthday celebrations for Milton continue with a reading of Blake’s ‘Milton’ at St Giles Cripplegate (7.30pm, £10) and a lecture, ‘John Milton: Revolutionary, Regicide, Republican’, given by Professor Thomas Corns at the library at Conway Hall in Red Lion Square (7pm, free). Keatsians might head instead to the Guildhall Art Gallery for A Christmas Entertainment (11am, free), featuring Christmas poems and stories selected by Keats House staff and volunteers.

Thursday: The descriptions of Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee and David Walker’s Unjust Rewards: Exposing Greed and Inequality in Britain Today read like an excerpt from A Tale of Two Cities. The Independent called this ‘compulsory reading for anyone on £162,000 and over’. For the rest of us poor miserable sods: Toynbee discusses her book at Clapham Books this evening (7.30pm).

Friday: A Palin by any other name might have brought us a Dead Moose skit instead of a Dead Parrot (the Lumberjack Song presumably would have stayed the same), but only the long-time passport-holding Michael Palin could bring us the travelogue Around the World in 80 Days with an ex-Python’s particular brand of humour and panache. Two decades on, Palin brings us an anniversary edition to commemorate his following in the footsteps of Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg. He’ll be signing copies at Stanfords Convent Garden store at 12.30pm.

Also on: Celebrate short fiction at Foyles with Tales of the Decongested (6.30pm, £3). And tonight’s your second chance for candlelit storytelling at the Dickens Museum.

Saturday: The Southbank Centre hosts Happy Crispmas: A Tribute to Quentin Crisp to mark the late writer and gay icon’s forthcoming 100th birthday on the 25th of December. The festivities include talks given by Crisp’s biographers and great nephew, a performance from a one-man show based on Crisp’s writings, and a Quentin look-alike contest (7.45pm, £15).

Monday: Celebrate the winter solstice at the Troubadour Cafe’s Darkness Visible, featuring readings of poems inspired by the dark, with selections by Yeats, Blake, Hughes, Auden, Bishop and plenty more (8pm, £6).

Tuesday: Palin Redux: The travel writer continues his rounds for the reissue of Around the World in 80 Days with a signing at Waterstone’s Piccadilly (free, 12.30pm).

*And finally, an answer to our trivia: According to that venerable know-it-all, Wikipedia, Michael Palin’s first acting experience, in the Birkdale Preparatory School’s rendition of A Christmas Carol, was, no, not as Tiny Tim but as Martha Cratchit – cross-dressing started early for the future Python player, then.

Know of an event that belongs in the Book Grocer listings? Please e-mail us at londonist-at-gmail-dot-com.

Image courtesy of bweech under the Creative Commons Attribution license

Last Updated 09 December 2008