Thursday, 3 June 2010

The Man Who Smiled

I am sure I have told you that my second love after art is books. My daughter and I have that in common; we are always on the lookout for interesting and new authors. Once a year we go to the Edinburgh Book Festival. It is considered our time. We book in advance from the programme and try to hear as many interesting authors as time and budget will allow.

Together we have had some very interesting and memorable moments. There is always something very special about building up memories with you family. We have had some interesting discussions with authors we read and admire. I have at least two inscriptions in first edition books from authors I hold in high esteem. My daughter already has those books earmarked as hers, when I shake of those old clogs of mine.

Last year the highlight of the festival for me was the interview given by Henning Mankell. He is best known for his character, Kurt Wallander.

It almost started very badly for me. There we were, sitting in our favourite seats. The audience hushed waiting for the first question. My phone rang. My son who hardly ever calls my mobile was calling just at that moment. Henning Mankell looked across and with a huge smile identified the music and made a funny comment about its place in his life. A bad moment had become a special moment, not just for me but the audience.

His interview was moving. Here was a man whose characters are known worldwide. Here is a man who could stop writing now and live comfortably from his earnings for the rest of his life. I was moved to hear what he was doing in so many parts of the world. Responsible for the setting up a school here building medical centres there. He struck me as a man of great integrity and I was moved to emotion as I listened. It was with great pride that I passed my book to him and he laughed again about my phone ringing and signed an inscription in his latest book.

He seemed a man who was moved by the plight of others. One of the things he said he was planning for the future was to try and help those starving in Gazza. He was not doing this as a political gesture but simply because people, especially children were starving.

I have made a point of keeping this blog neutral in all respects. But today he is in my thoughts, and that of my daughter. He was on one of the ships recently trying to bring aid to Gazza and he was one of those taken prisoner.

Today I will think of him and remember the caring man with the big smile.

This blog is linked to my other where you can meet another man with a smile.Les


  1. Men with genuine smiles are few and far between. This is a cute story. :)

  2. Sounds like a wonderful unselfish person. I pray for his safe release...

  3. Your words and thoughts have given me a chill, Ralph. I'm trying to remember if I've heard of Ian Manning and I do think I have. I hope and pray that all of those taken prisoner will be released sooner rather than later. I hadn't heard this story in the news (my doing, undoubtedly) so have to go read...

  4. Oy...I mean Henning Mankell...not Ian Manning.

  5. Good Morning Ralph, I am alive and ate well last night! It is difficult to be neutral especially when that would mean a lack of emotion. It is comfortable having our little islands where we can be surrounded by beauty and those we care about. But evil and injustice exist in the real world and it is difficult for a reason to ignore it. I hope your author-friend will be alright as I do the people of Gaza. We are more aware today than yesterday thanks to his efforts and maybe that will be the beginning.

  6. I can tell from your story that Henning Mankell is a wonderful person. Most speakers would have grimmaced at that phone ring--but he was nice and even jovial about it. Well, that makes me like him for sure. I very much hope for the best where he is concerned. The world needs humanitarians like him--and like you.

  7. I love the Wallendar character. I have been watching the series on PBS. I want to read the books. I am concerned that this wonderful writer was subject to such a horrendous episode in the middle east. I hope he is ok. on another note. My Mom and sister send me books they have read and I send them mine..good thing United States postal service has flat rate boxes!