Last night I helped the Chawton House Library (CHL) staff set up for an event: the live recording of BBC Radio4’s “Kitchen Cabinet.” The show changes locations weekly (I presume) and invites an audience of hundreds to attend the recording. It goes like this: people can request free tickets, show up, and hope to get in (see the marquee/tent below). If they get in, they get to fill out a questionnaire, and if their questionnaire is chosen, they get to ask a panel of food experts their questions. Around five people are chosen from the audience to come sit in the front row and ask their questions. It is all very exciting! The panelists, shown below in a Chawton House photo op, were lively and funny, especially the host, Jay Rayner (at left).
The programme (Brit spelling) selected the CHL as a site in order to tie in with the bicentennial of Jane Austen’s death (d. July 18, 1817). Austen’s brother’s family, The Knights, have a family cookbook–a series of recipes collected–including such wonderful entries, such as snail’s milk as a cure for a hangover! Um, ewwwwww. The panel referred to the book throughout the programme, and Austen expert Gillian Dow was on hand to comment on Austen’s relationship to food as in cooking, eating, and writing about sweets and savories.
On July 15 the recording will actually air. I hope to listen to it just to see what it sounds like without the hoards of motorcycles in the background. Oh, yeah, many retakes happened because there was a pre-motorcycle-race event (Isle of Man TT rehearsal) happening on the highway in the distance. Vroom! Vroom!
Most of my responsibilities for the event included setting up a book selling table with fellow CHL staff members, Darren and Christine.
Then Christine and I spent a couple of hours before the show trying to sell books–and we didn’t sell ANY. After the show we sold quite a few copies of The Knight Family Cookbook and The Compleat Housewife. Then we packed up and called it a day around 8:30 p.m.
All in all, I had a wonderful evening. I enjoyed being useful. (I really do like helping out with events.) I enjoyed hanging out with Christine. I enjoyed meeting the hundreds of people who poured into the event on such a lovely, warm summer’s eve! Not a cloud in the sky!