Antiques Roadshow specialist Marc Allum takes a light-hearted look at the trials and tribulations of touring on the summer lecture circuit
The annual cycle of writing and publishing books is at times both highly stressful yet massively rewarding. Throughout the spring and summer I juggle a mixture of writing the next tome, promoting the current offering and building up to the release of the the next publication in readiness for the pre-Christmas frenzy of literary stocking-filler mayhem.
The summer months are a mad tangle of filming the Antiques Roadshow, working as a consultant and treading the boards of theatres, church halls, marquees and country houses as a type of antiquarian evangelist. Armed with the bible that is my latest publication I preach to the mainly already converted about the perils of collecting and the sin of accumulation. Yet, this light-hearted analogy is not far from the truth, for many of us worship at the altar of materialism, our houses stacked with objects, souvenirs of our travels and the general detritus of everyday life. We are the disciples of acquisition and I’m a prime example of the genre, yet it’s my life and my love, because the passion I have is a not a selfish avaricious trait but more a continually unfulfilled desire to learn and discuss that interest with people who are similarly disposed.
My books are the platform for that passion and the wonderful event that is the literary or arts festival - so increasingly popular throughout the British Isles in recent years - is a wonderful vehicle for venting that enthusiasm. So, these days, I try hard to be less ashamed of my material indulgences, for many of the things I collect and discuss are also the tools of my trade; rather like a carpenter uses a chisel I might choose a Neolithic polished axe head and as I hold it up and exhibit it to the assembled throng, it is an object of desire and beauty imbued with historical connotations sometimes far beyond our modern comprehension. This is the joy of the summer lecture circuit; the warmth and the generosity of those who attend, the attentive and quizzical patience of the crowd as I ramble along, and the sheer pleasure of the other wonderful speakers that I am lucky enough to engage with along the way. It’s been a memorable summer on the circuit - it’s not often you have the chance to sit down and have supper with someone like Terry Waite!
Marc will be appearing at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on Friday 9th October.
Marc is a consultant for Tennants Auctioneers of Leyburn and is based at:
Oakham (Heart of England) Office Mill House, South Street Oakham, Rutland LE15 6BG
Tel: + 44 (0) 1572 724666
Fax: + 44 (0) 1572 724422