PEN members joined together for wine, mince pies and conviviality to mark the beginning of the festive season at the Mayfair LIbrary, following the Annual General Meeting, at which President Alastair Niven, Director Jonathan Heawood and the heads of PEN’s campaigns and programmes reported on the activities of 2005 and looked forward to plans for 2006.
At 7pm Philip Pullman and Howard Jacobson, chaired by Lisa Appignanesi, set out to offend those present, reading passages from their work which might be regarded as offensive under the Incitement of Religious Hatred bill. Pullman read a passage from The Amber Spyglass in which the harpies are dissatisfied with Lyra’s fantasy and are only appeased when she speaks the truth. Jacobson read a suitably provocative section from his sexual comedy, Nor More Mister Nice Guy.
Both authors are contributors to the Free Expression is No Offence anthology, the English PEN/Penguin book which includes thought-provoking essays by Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi, Monica Ali, Hari Kunzru, Helena Kennedy and many more and was published in December 2005.
A very Merry Christmas to all our members and friends, and we wish you all a very creative, happy and peaceful 2005.
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/events/reportsonrecentevents/christmasreception2005/