The Oldie Lunch


The Oldie Lunches

The Oldie isn’t a magazine for the old. Readers of all ages who are intelligent, lively minded and appreciative of good writing and good company find it an indispensable antidote to the triviality of the 21st century.

On Tuesday 31st October 2006, Boris spoke at the lunch in Henley-on-Thames with Sir John Mortimer and Colin Thubron.

You are invited to join any forthcoming Oldie Lunch – see here

MEET your favourite authors at one of The Oldie’s famous Literary Luncheons. Visit our lunches and you can enjoy meeting, seeing, and hearing some of the country’s most interesting authors, poets, politicians and commentators including Stephen Fry, Clive James, Kate Adie, Michael Palin, Tony Benn, Posy Simmonds and Sir John Mortimer.

Countrywide, our lunches are unique as they give you the chance to meet and talk with the speakers at our informal reception before the lunch. We have recently held regional lunches in Chester, Bath, York, Harrogate and Windsor, and hope to be visiting new locations in the coming months.

All generously sponsored by Swan Hellenic.

The Lunch was chaired by Richard Lewis, The Oldie Deputy Editor, and explained that his role in the magazine was to knock it into shape.

Boris spoke about his latest book: Dream of Rome

Sunday Telegraph
‘Boris Johnson looks at the issues facing European Union through the history of Roman imperial governance.’

Daily Telegraph
‘written with all the wit and zest that have helped to make him Britain’s favourite celebrity MP’

The Guardian
‘…rather delightful. Its author wears his classical learning lightly, and adopts some clever tricks of perspective…uncontestably good.’

Focussing on how the Romans made Europe work as a homogenous civilisation and looking at why we are failing to make the EU work in modern times, this is an authoritative and amusing study from bestselling author Boris Johnson. In addition to his roles as politician, editor, author and television presenter, Boris Johnson is a passionate Roman scholar. He uncovers the secrets of the governance of the empire, and the reasons behind why the Romans held such power and prestige for so long. Fiercely interested in Europe and the current issues facing the European Union, he looks at the lessons we could learn from the Romans and how we could apply them to our modern politics. This illustrated book, full of witty descriptions, insight, politics, accompanies the television series.

He entertained the audience of around 200 with his tales of bicycle riding in London and being knocked off his seat at some traffic lights. He explained that the Roman period was an unparalleled period of history with 600 years of peace and prosperity and where the population actually wanted to become Roman. Our great challenge, he argued, was to re-create the basis of this thinking across the EU, including Turkey.

Colin Thubron

British travel writer and novelist whose works, often set in foreign locales, explore love, memory, and the loss of faith, as well as the differences between the ideal and the real.
He was born in London in 1939. He left publishing to travel – mainly in Asia and North Africa, where he made documentary films which were shown on BBC and world television. Afterwards, he returned to the Middle East, and wrote five books on the Area. In 1984, the Book Marketing Council nominated him one of the twenty best contemporary writers on travel.
After attending Eton College, Thubron worked as an editor at publishing houses in London and New York City. In 1965 he became a freelance documentary filmmaker and writer
He spoke of his new book, Shadow of the Silk Road – The Silk Road is a huge network of arteries and veins, splitting and converging across the breadth of Asia, passing through China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, and the most sterile desert on earth: the Taklamakan. This book traces the passage not just of trade and armies, but of ideas, religions and inventions.

“an important contemporary account of…some of the most
significant…transactions in human history”

There was never one Silk Road – but several. The route chosen by Colin Thubron passes through China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, taking in the most sterile desert on earth (the Taklamakan) and the strife-torn mountain valleys of today’s conflicts, as he travels from the tomb of the Yellow Emperor (the mythic progenitor of the Chinese people) to the ancient port of Antioch, by local bus, truck, car – occasionally Landrover, horse or camel. He covers 7,000 miles in 8 months. The Silk Road is a huge network of arteries and veins, splitting and converging across the breadth of Asia. Chinese silk has turned up in the hair of a 10th-century-BC Egyptian mummy; equally, the tartan plaids of 3000-year-old mummies in the Chinese desert echo those of early Celts. To be travelling the Silk Road, writes Colin Thubron, is to be travelling the history of the world: tracing the passage not just of trade and armies, but of ideas, religions and inventions. Its themes include different Islams (oppressed in China; fervent in Afghanistan and Iran; cautiously monitored in Uzbekistan); contrast (no cities could be more different than ancient Samarkand and modern Teheran); and the way that today’s borders are meaningless because the true boundaries are made by tribe, ethnicity, language and religion. “Shadow of the Silk Road” is a brilliant account of an ancient world in modern ferment.

Last but not least, Sir John Mortimer, author of the Rumpole stories, fifty books, several plays and screenplays, elaborates about the creation of Rumpole for television. He is one of the few lawyers who is also a writer in England.

He is a great champion of The Oldie. He was sitting in a wheelchair and said his days of standing up were long gone. Lots of legal tales followed and he is a most amusing raconteur.

His latest novel, Rumpole and the Reign of Terror, concerns a Pakistani doctor accused of terrorist activities, giving Mortimer the chance to lay into what he sees as the erosion of civil liberties. And he is already engaged in formulating the next Rumpole plot, which will be about Asbos

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8 thoughts on “The Oldie Lunch”

  1. Lucky you to be entertained by Sir John Mortimer, Boris, I’m a great fan of his – and of Rumpole.

  2. Yes, after reading the synopsis Boris’s book sounds most interesting. The lunches sound interesting too, as does the magazine. I’ve seen it mentioned many times and must get around to reading it. I wonder if they have authors such as Freddy Forsyth, Chris Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Terry Jones?? I see that Paul Johnson seems convinced that Dawkins will embrace Catholicism. Getting Terry Jones and Boris together at a luncheon would be good. The Barbarian and the Dream of Rome?

  3. BJ on HIGNFY on the 15th …… at least 8/10 I would think. No better way to end the series. And the book was well plugged.

  4. One of the main ways that the Romans assimilated so much of Europe (and the Middle East and North Africa) into one civilization was by crucifying or enslaving anyone who resisted this process. I hope that Boris is not advocating a similar policy by the European Union.

    However, at least the Romans gave us aqueducts as well.

  5. Why do you always delete my messages? [Ed: not this one as it happens – what were your others – email me via ‘contact’]

  6. Jaq said:
    “I see that Paul Johnson seems convinced that Dawkins will embrace Catholicism.”
    Very improbable I’d say. Where has the other Johnson said/written this? [Ed: probably The Spectator?]

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