Remembering Siobhan Dowd

I felt compelled to go. So I went, and I’m glad I did. There was a memorial service for Siobhan Dowd in Oxford yesterday. The Holywell Music Room was a beautiful place to have it. The weather was beautiful. And the celebration of Siobhan’s life and work was beautifully put together.

Siobhan’s husband Geoff and friends started it off by singing Gypsy Rover. Then David Fickling (“the Lancashire Comedian”) and Fiona Dunbar did their Oscars style presentation. Siobhan’s sisters Denise and Oona talked about their childhood, and read from a favourite book.

Bella Pearson read from A Swift Pure Cry and Phil Earle from The London Eye Mystery, which just showed us again how good these books are. Geoff read a poem by Siobhan, and Meg Rosoff read an extract from Siobhan’s next book, Bog Child.

There was a lot of music and singing. Nick Gill played Scott Joplin. Daryl Wells sang Nina Simone. And we had real Bulgarian Gypsy music from Mike Limmer and Morski. There were readings from James Joyce, Irina Ratushinskaya, Henrietta Branford, Ezra Pound and Dylan Thomas.

There were family and friends, and many people from the book trade. Someone wanted me to put together an exciting report on who was there, but I have to admit to only recognising some of the many who attended. Linda Sargent and Linda Newbery. Lee Weatherley and Anthony McGowan. Rachel Billington. Julia Eccleshare.

Afterwards in the Turf Tavern I was introduced to people, and their names whirl round in my head. There was talk of crossdressing. I got some more background on Lauren Child and Pippi Longstocking. Had to admit to people I hadn’t actually read their books, despite Meg R going round saying I read everything. (But Lee, Anthony and Fiona – you are on my next list. Definitely.)

I found I’d already met Nina Douglas from David Fickling Books, without knowing it. And I learnt that David himself let out a secret to us, so we’ve been sworn to silence. Now that I’ve seen how very nice “the Lancashire Comedian” is, I’ll never be brave enough to take him up on his earlier offer of a coffee when I’m next in Oxford. Not that I drink coffee, anyway, but I’d thought I might. Almost.

Meg did that very nice thing, and introduced me to her agent, Catherine. Maybe she knew I don’t have a book to flog, and never will. She even gave me her copy of Bog Child, which I will tell you about later.

Have to mention here, that all my trains ran on time.

A big thank you to Geoff for a beautiful day.

7 responses to “Remembering Siobhan Dowd

  1. Though I absolutely detest the idea of writers – and book people – en masse, this does sound like a very beautiful memorial service.

  2. It was good. If there had been any of the superstar variety it might have got worse, but this was a normal bunch of nice people. Some were very tempted to trip up the man in the pub who took a strong dislike to us all, which made it seem all the more normal.

  3. Declan on Crime Always Pays has kindly quoted from this blog post, and also mentioned Siobhan in a post yesterday.

  4. Anthony McGowan

    I’ve never been to a memmorial service before, but if I go to any more I hope they’re as joyful and upbeat as Siobhan’s. The day was genuinely uplifting, a true celebration of her work, rather than a lament for our loss. All credit to Geoff for setting the tone.
    And I got to meet the fabled bookwitch (albeit briefly), which was an unanticipated pleasure.

  5. It was a first for me too, Anthony. And flattery will get you quite far. Have a request out for Henry Tumour.

  6. Pingback: Thanks, Siobhan! | Bookwitch

  7. Pingback: Witch in search of a litfest | Bookwitch

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