By ALAN MURRIN
I climbed the stairs of Dragon Hall, home of Writers’ Centre Norwich, to the vaulted Great Hall of this fifteenth-century building, where an audience was waiting for a reading to begin. A woman in dungarees and a knotted headscarf emerged from the wings. She was, we soon learnt, the mechanic oiling the metaphorical cogs of The Story Machine – a multidimensional literary event directed by Sam Ruddock for this month’s Norwich and Norfolk Festival. It was her job to introduce us to the writer Sarah Hall, who – herself dressed in surgical scrubs – read her story “Theatre Six”, a dystopian vision of healthcare in the near future, in which a doctor’s faith in her vocation is threatened by a new political world order. A woman then entered dragging a wicker mat with an alabaster leg lying on it. She was quoting lines by Carol Ann Duffy from the poems “We Remember Your Childhood Well” and “Mrs Lazarus”. If I had followed her to the garden at the back of the building, I would have heard a story by Jarred McGinnis, the founder of the literary variety night The Special Relationship. In his story “Charles III”, the Poet Laureate has been hung, drawn and quartered, and the limb that had just passed me represented her remains. . . .