Matthew Parker, Goldeneye
Friday 28th November 6:30pm £6.50 at Richard Huish College, South Rd, Taunton, TA1 3DZ
From 1946 until the end of his life, Ian Fleming lived for two months of every year at Goldeneye – the house he built on a point of high land overlooking a small white sand beach on Jamaica’s north coast. All the James Bond novels and stories were written here. Fleming adored the Jamaica he had discovered, at the time an imperial backwater that seemed unchanged from the glory days of the empire.
Amid its stunning natural beauty, the austerity and decline of post-war Britain could be forgotten. For Fleming, Jamaica offered the perfect mixture of British old-fashioned conservatism and imperial values, alongside the dangerous and sensual: the same curious combination that made his novels so appealing, and successful. The spirit of the island – its exotic beauty, its unpredictability, its melancholy, its love of exaggeration and gothic melodrama – infuses his writing.
Philip Ball, Invisible
Friday 28th November 8.00 pm £6.50 at Richard Huish College, South Rd, Taunton, TA1 3DZ
If you could be invisible, what would you do? The chances are that it would have something to do with power, wealth or sex. Perhaps all three.
But there’s no need to feel guilty. Impulses like these have always been at the heart of our fascination with invisibility: it points to realms beyond our senses, serves as a receptacle for fears and dreams, and hints at worlds where other rules apply.
Invisibility is a mighty power and a terrible curse, a sexual promise, a spiritual condition. This is a history of humanity’s turbulent relationship with the invisible. It takes on the myths and morals of Plato, the occult obsessions of the Middle Ages, the trickeries and illusions of stage magic, the auras and ethers of Victorian physics, military strategies to camouflage armies and ships and the discovery of invisibly small worlds.
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