The Future Cities project

challenging risk-aversion and the precautionary principle

» Testimonials

Nick Ross, TV personality and author, Crime: How to solve it and why so much of what we’re told is wrong:

“Beware. Austin Williams told everyone he loved the book: he praised the writing style, he warmly suggested everyone should buy it – and promptly launched into a tirade of challenges against it. The Barnie is just that – a good old-fashioned Barnie – but with a twinkle in its eye and a steady underlying intellectual purpose. Don’t think you’ll get a free ride. But you’ll get a fair hearing. And it’s fun.”

 

Jonathan Meades, author, essayist, film-maker and bon vivant:

“The Barnie was enjoyable and valuable precisely because it did not set out to be fluffy fun. It enjoys the unfashionable virtue of earnest. It is rebarbative , bracing and engaging. The audience is challenging – it does not accept people at their own estimate, it is not there to massage egos. Altogether an inspired idea, well executed. I am delighted to have been included.”

 

Iain Macwhirter, political commentator of the The Herald and the Sunday Herald:

“I had a great evening at Bookshop Barnie on my book “Disunited Kingdom” which inquisitor Austin Williams had read and thought about. Challenging and intelligent audience, great venue, good turnout, plenty of laughter and even a free drink. What more could you possibly ask for? I’ll be back.”

 

Rana Mitter, professor of the History and Politics of Modern China:

“What a pleasure to debate the role of history in the shaping of modern China at the Battle of Ideas – a pin-sharp host and thoughtful and informed audience debate made for a sparky and stimulating hour. One of the best discussion events I’ve taken part in.”

 

Rob Schmitz, Shanghai correspondent, National Public Radio; author “Street of Eternal Happines”

“I really enjoyed the event, and I received great, challenging questions from both Austin and the audience.”

 

Wade Shepard, editor-in-chief, South China Morning Post; blogger, Vagabond Journey

“That was an incredibly fun event. I really appreciate that you took the time to read the book and prepared so well: we sold too many books! Thank you for the excellent event, the drinks, food, and the conversation. You really made last night something special.”

 

Frank Furedi, social commentator, author and emeritus professor of sociology, University of Kent in Canterbury:

“Loved the lively audience and their challenging questions and intelligent comments. The format really works and allows the author and audience to conduct a free-ranging conversation that avoids the rhetoric of vanity associated with a formal book launch.”

 

George Brock, Head of Journalism, City University; ex-managing editor, The Times:

“The mixture of a provocative and mischievous interviewer with a serious and argumentative audience makes for a great event. Bookshop Barnie audiences know enough and care enough to test a book and its author. It was great fun.”

 

Paul Morley, cultural commentator, presenter and author:

“Thanks for so brilliantly hosting the great Foyles event. (This is) a testimonial that properly communicates how much I enjoyed taking part and how engaged the audience was.”

 

Evan Davis, broadcaster and presenter:

“It was both exhilarating and a little horrifying to discover that quite a few people had not only read my book, but also thought about it. The questioning was really useful”

 

David Goodhart, journalist, commentator, author and director of the “think tank” Demos:

“In my experience the bookshop Barnies attract a challenging and informed audience and are briskly and entertainingly chaired by Austin.”

 

Martin Jacques, visiting senior research fellow, LSE; visiting professor, Tsinghua University, Beijing:

“Thoroughly enjoyable evening with a most convivial audience. There were lots of interesting questions from a range of different viewpoints. And the tone of the evening was, in the best possible way, serious and engaged.”

 

Stefan Collini, professor of English Literature and Intellectual History, University of Cambridge:

“The whole event was unusually enjoyable and stimulating: the audience seemed engaged and responsive, yet not at all disposed to let me off lightly – they really wanted to argue the points.  Just the right mix of good humour with a serious, directly-expressed concern with the issues.   It’s an excellent formula – keep it going”

 

Jonathan Glancey, architecture and design correspondent, The Guardian:

“It was all a bit of a roll; much more fun than 95% of architecture events – in England, anyway – when most people seem so buttoned up”

 

Robert Adam, Classical architect, author and theorist:

“I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I always enjoy a good debate, the more challenging the better… it is a pleasure to debate and even argue with an intelligent and interested audience in a very well-considered format for the discussion of literature.  Not only does this give books the relevance that they deserve but it re-establishes them as the framework for onward debate instead of passive transmitters of information.  This is a great boost for an author.”

 

Martin Sixsmith, BBC broadcaster and author of “Russia: A 1,000-year Chronicle of the Wild East”:

“It didn’t quite come to fisticuffs, but it easily could have done. Not bad for a discussion about history!”

 

Matt Ridley, science writer and author of “The Rational Optimist”:

“A Bookshop Barnie at Foyles is a great event. Austin Williams makes sure he gets a real debate going, with good questions, fast answers and lots of straight talking. I enjoyed it a lot.”

 

David Aaronovitch, columnist, The Times, author of “Voodoo Histories”:

“One of the best things I’ve done, thanks to you and the audience. Real morale-booster!.”

 

Kerry Brown, head, Asia Programme, Chatham House, author of “Ballot-Box China”:

“Many thanks for this, and for arranging the event, which I learned a lot from and was very glad to be at… Great stuff”

 

Gary Younge, feature writer and columnist, The Guardian :

“If you’re only interested in promoting your book then there are other places. But if you’re interested in defending it, starting a conversation about the ideas in it and engaging with an interested audience then this is the place for you. Combative, convivial and constructive: at the Bookshop Barnies people don’t necessarily turn up to hear you talk, but to respond to what you have to say.”

 

Peter Hitchens , author, journalist, Mail on Sunday:

“The book trade is under siege from TV. A place that ought to be the last refuge of coherent thought and serious debate has been invaded by celebrity and meretricious rubbish. On one small front, here’s some laudable resistance: a space where authors and readers can discuss books properly and readers can rediscover the proper purpose of bookshops – not the marketing of ghost-written memoirs, but the propagation of ideas and the discovery of truth.”

 

Kevin Bloom, South African journalist, author “Ways of Staying”:

“I had thought that after more than a year speaking about the themes in my book, there was nothing new to say, no fresh insight to be gained through interviews or discussions. About twenty minutes in, the Bookshop Barnie disabused me of that notion. Mr Williams knows how to get at the polemical core of a text, and he knows, too, how to carry the audience there with him..”

 

David Willets, MP:

“I hadn’t heard about the Bookshop Barnies previously but it’s a great idea and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s particularly gratifying to know that discussions continued in the pub until closing time!”

 

Robert Service, historian, and author of “Trotsky: A Biography”:

“It was a lively event… the Bookshop Barnies generally provide a pretty level playing field for authors. It was fun, it was productive.”

 

Edwin Heathcote, architecture correspondent, Financial Times:

“A big panel of primadonnas and huge audience. I was impressed.”

 

John Fitzpatrick, director, Kent Law Clinic:

“You were, as planned, as predicted, as thoroughly deserved, and as universally acknowledged, the total star of the night.”

 

Tiffany Jenkins, director, Arts & Society, Institute of Ideas:

“It was a great night.”

 

Tristram Hunt, historian, broadcaster and columnist:

“Thanks a lot – I really enjoyed the evening… An intelligent, engaging and provocative evening, the Barnie delivers book-sales and crackling, critical debate.”

 

Johnny Ball, TV icon:

“I absolutely loved last night.”

 

Nandan Nilekani, founder, Infosys Technologies:

“Thanks a lot for having me in this unique event!… Bookshop Barnies is a great format and intellectually stimulating. I had great fun and enjoyed the the very engaged audience and the feisty interlocution of Austin Williams.”

 

Richard Reeves , director, Demos:

“Thank you for I inviting me; I loved it. Great atmosphere and people and questions: you chair deftly and well.”

 

Philip Gwyn Jones, publisher, Granta Books:

“I did really enjoy it… an uncommonly stimulating book event (as your Barnies manifesto promises) which was pitched and sustained at a very high level. No dumbing down in sight here, thank all the gods. So, thank you. I do hope we can do other events with you.”

 

Alain de Botton, philosopher:

“What fun it was last night – thanks so much for including me in the debate… I felt like I learned a lot.”

 

John Ralston Saul, philosopher, author ‘The Collapse Of Globalism: and the Reinvention of the World’:

“I really did enjoy the Barnie… very combative.”

 

Jeremy Myerson, Helen Hamlyn Chair of Design, Royal College of Art:

“I really enjoyed it… Great stuff… the whole mix made for an entertaining event”

 

Philippe Legrain, economist and author ‘Aftershock: Reshaping the World Economy After the Crisis’:

“Thank you and everyone who came last night for a great event. I really enjoyed it.”

 

Humphrey Hawksley, BBC foreign correspondent:

“Thank you for a splendidly stimulating evening. More than any of the events I have been to on this, this one really teased out the issues and moved furniture around in people’s brains – including mine… I have just ordered Enemies of Progress.”

 

Madeleine Holt, arts correspondent, Culture Show & Newsnight:

“What craic. Thank you for a top evening.”

 

Francis Wheen, author, journalist and broadcaster:

“I enjoyed the Barnie. I’ve been thinking about some of the comments and questions from the audience ever since: it was far more challenging and stimulating than a normal bookshop event.”

 

Susan Neiman, director, The Einstein Forum:

“It was a great pleasure, and I thank you for organizing it.”

 

Yvonne Roberts, senior associate, The Young Foundation:

“Really enjoyed last night thank you – and bought the book. Must be your wit that drew money from my purse! And a great venue to hold it.”

 

Maurice Davies, deputy director, Museums Association:

“Thanks for inviting me to last night’s Barnie. I enjoyed it – stimulating and witty. Indeed it rekindled my interest in politics… I’d be delighted to come to other Barnies in future.”

 

Fiona Fox, Chief Executive, Science Media Centre:

“Great night. Another triumph.”

 

Rebecca Jenkins, author, “The First London Olympics: 1908“:

“A particular highlight of November 2008… a lively exchange of ideas.”

 

Ann Furedi, chief executive, British Pregnancy Advisory Service:

“An excellent event.”

 

Kate Cheeseman, Bafta-winning TV director:

“It was interesting… Look forward to coming along to some more.”

 

Mike Hulme, founder Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change:

“Many thanks. I enjoyed the event and the opportunity to put my arguments to a group of the engaged and the critical.”

 

Mark Stevenson, author/ director, Flow Associates:

“The talk was great – and you are a fabulous interlocutor and host… I’ll be looking out for more Bookshop Barnies”

 

Marianne Talbot, director of Studies in Philosophy, Department for Continuing Education, Oxford University:

“Thanks for inviting me… I thought the audience was splendid!”

 

Stuart Silver, comedian:

“I really enjoyed it.. would love to come to the next.”

 

Luis Belmonte, events organiser, Royal Insitute of British Architects:

“Thank you very much indeed for organising so many good discussions: in these post-modern times of nihilism, consumerism and individualism, your Barnies and intellectual debates are oases of hope in the desert of disenchantment.”

 

James Delingpole, journalist:

“It was lovely… and however rough the evening was, it was jolly good training. Thanks so much for asking me.”

 

Cosmo Landesman , film correspondent, Sunday Times:

“It was a very enjoyable experience – and you are indeed a master of ceremonies and the art of the interview. Thanks for inviting me and hope to see you at future Barnies.”

 

Vivian Archer, owner, The Newham Bookshop:

“Thank you, we all really enjoyed it.”

 

Andy Shaw, Business Development & Strategy Director, BTAgilemedia:

“It was an excellent evening – which would not, of course, been possible without your perceptive questioning and relaxed, but engaging style. ”

 

Annie Bruzzone, Publications officer, Policy Network:

“Thank you very much for the invite, I really enjoyed the debate.”

 

Amanda Reekie, founder, Stratton & Reekie:

“I enjoyed it very much indeed. Certainly challenged ze leetl grey cells… Very informed debate followed the talk..”

 

Michael Caines, Times Literary Supplement:

“I greatly enjoyed it, thanks.”

 

Timothy Hornsby, Chairman Designate, Horniman Museum:

“Many thanks for a fascinating evening.“

 

Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes, Wellcome Trust:

“Many thanks for a splendid evening. It really was very enjoyable.“

 

Dominic Meyrick, Lighting principal & partner, Hoare Lea:

“Really interesting.“

 

Alan Shipman, lecturer in economics, Open University:

“Just wanted to say what an informative Barnie that was – appropriately challenging the challenge to the orthodoxy, and maximally testing the author’s power of speaking on their feet. It’s always satisfying to find so many of my own questions successfully put by others.“

 

Wendy Earle, Online Education Manager, BFI Education:

“I enjoyed it very much. Will have to try and make more of them.“

 

Stanley Feldman, author, ‘Panic Nation: Exposing the Lies We’re Told About Food and Health’:

“We enjoyed the Barnie – stimulating as usual.“

 

Ruth Eaton, author, ‘Ideal Cities: Utopianism and the (Un)Built Environment’:

“Your balloon debate was brill.“

 

Sarah Mole, BBC Producer:

“Interesting stuff – a very thought-provoking debate.“

 

Nicholas Spice, publisher, London Review of Books:

“I found it very interesting – very much the kind of thing we should be doing more of in the shop.”

 

Richard Lindley, author “Panorama: Fifty Years of Pride and Paranoia“:

“Congrats to you on the series.“

 

Professor Conrad Lichtenstein, chief operating officer, Population Genetics Technologies:

“Thank you for the enjoyable and interesting evening last week.“

 

Geoff Mulgan, director, Young Foundation:

“Thanks for setting up the Barnie last night. Much appreciated, and engagingly spiky!”

 

Rachel Stevens, literature advisor, British Council:

“Thank you for organising such a terrific Barnie… It was great fun, and really engaging. It sounds very simple, but one of the most interesting elements for me was being part of such an eclectic mix of people from a variety of sectors.”

 

Mike Proudfoot, head, Department of Philosophy & School of Humanities, University of Reading:

“I very much enjoyed the ‘Bookshop Barnie’… I thought the format was just right. There were the right number of people there – enough to ensure a lively discussion, but not too many to destroy the friendliness and intimacy of the occasion. That was very much assisted by the pre- and post-discussion socialising.”

 

Shalom Lappin, Professor of Computational Linguistics, Department of Philosophy, Kings College London

“Many thanks for a very enjoyable evening. I appreciate your having invited me.”

 

Astrid Kirchner, founder, Urbaneer:

“I really enjoyed last night’s Barnie.”

 

Jane Hegarty, PR:

“I enjoyed the evening – always lovely to hear clever people discussing books – and also thought you were an excellent MC.”

 

Mark Goldring, CEO, Voluntary Services Overseas:

“I thought the efforts at a debate were brave, worthwhile and worked reasonably. Thanks for the contact, I’d certainly come again“

 

Norman Lewis, Chief Strategy Officer, Wireless Grids Corporation, USA:

“Just a quick email to say how much I enjoyed this week’s Bookshop Barnie. A really excellent discussion, well done. I am ruing the fact that I have not been able to attend previous ones.“

 

Suman Bhuchar, Watermans:

“I really had a good evening.”

 

Kate Hammer , director, Throughline:

“It was great. Makes me want to write a book just so’s I can be Barnied. The whole artful exchange rocked. He’s very impressive. And so are you, a master at intelligent conversation.”

 

Paul Hyett, past-president Royal Institute of British Architects and chairman of global architecture firm RyderHKS:

“It was great fun… indeed I thought the format, the venue and the delegate list was great. Let me know when you are doing another because even if not invited to speak I would like to come and listen…. Barnie’s are great“

 

Jeremy Stangroom, The Philosophers’ Magazine:

“Hugely enjoyable.”

 

Tom Oliver, Head of Rural Policy, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE):

“I thought the free fire quality of the debate was very good. There were some interesting people there from a healthy range of positions… Twas a great evening! Many thanks. V good fun. Thank Heavens you’re out there doing this stuff.”

 

Kevin Rooney, head of Social Science. Queens’ School, Bushey:

“Thought provoking in the true sense of the word last night. Well done.”

 

Terence Bendixson, Secretary, Independent Transport Commission

“I greatly enjoyed last night’s Barnie… Do keep me on your mailing list for future events.”

 

Dr Peter Duncan, lecturer, Health Promotion, Centre for Public Policy Research, King’s College London:

“Thank you very much for an informative and entertaining ‘Bookshop Barnie’. I enjoyed the event and thought the subject and the discussions it led to were provoking and interesting.“

 

Heather Wakefield, National Secretary, UNISON Local Government Service Group:

“Most enjoyable… Will hope for future invitations.”

 

Stephen George, producer, Robert Elms show, BBC London:

“I really enjoyed it.“

 

Ken Worpole, writer on urban social policy (and participant in Christmas Bash Balloon Debate 2005):

“I enjoyed hearing the other panellists who were all on top form.“

 

John Porter, Senior Programme Director, Common Purpose London:

“Last night was great! I enjoyed the format, the interaction with new people, the warm welcome, the stimulation… and the wine.”

 

Christine Yates, Equalities & Diversity Consultant, Imperial College London

“I really enjoyed it… I look forward with keen anticipation to the next author.”

 

Francis Gilbert, author, “Yob Nation: The Truth About Britain’s Yob Culture”:

“I enjoyed it… very good and pertinent.”

 

Carol Shooter, Membership Services Manager, Association of Charitable Foundations:

“I did very much enjoy the Barnie focusing on risk – thank you very much for inviting me.“

 

Martin Summers, International Social Accountability Manager, British American Tobacco:

“Thanks for a very fun and informative night out. I particularly liked the style and format, which yielded better results than the usually tepid love-ins that accompany book readings.”

 

Fiona Price, Marketing & Publicity Manager, Verso Press:

“I hope we might be able to work together on something similar for one of our other authors.”

 

Frances Quinn, freelance journalist:

“I thought the Bookshop Barnie was great – a really interesting topic and very thought-provoking responses from the guests. Thanks for inviting me. I’d love to come again.“

 

Michael Massey, Associate Fellow Chatham House:

“I kept finding my agreement with (the author’s) general thesis unravelling the more that (the author) explained particular examples.“

 

Peter Higgins, Creative Director, Land Design Studios:

“It was a stimulating event that should continue if you can convince your sponsors.”

 

Pallavi Vadhia, Publications Sales and Marketing Officer, National Portrait Gallery:

“Let me know if there are any events that we can co-ordinate in the future.”

 

Ed Dorrell, news editor, Architects’ Journal:

“Good as ever”

 

Stella Bell, Carbon Offset manager, ClimateCare:

“I enjoyed it and look forward to hearing about future Barnies”

 

Annie Caulfield, author “Show Me the Magic: Travels Round Benin by Taxi“:

“Enjoyed the Barnie, although I did feel there were more interesting questions from the floor than answers…”

 

Patricia Austin, course director, Creative Narrative Environments, Central St Martin’s College:

“The Barnie was fun. Many thanks for inviting me.”

 

David Logan, director, The Corporate Citizenship Company

“I really enjoyed the evening”

 

Jack Jackson, author, “Diving with Sharks” and “The World’s Great Adventure Treks”:

“I enjoyed it.”

 

Nicholas Rau, senior lecturer, Department of Economics, University College London:

“Thanks again for inviting me… I must say I was greatly impressed. A real ‘Joss Stone Glasto 2004’ moment.”

 

Sheila Hayman, author, screenwriter, director:

“It was very entertaining… More please.”

 

Perry Walker, head, Democracy and Participation, New Economics Foundation:

“I’m glad I finally made it.”

 

Shanta Acharya, ex-Executive Director, Initiative on Foundation and Endowment Asset Management, London Business School:

“Thanks… that was interesting last evening… Glad I could come along.”

 

Stuart Simpson, Analyst: Stakeholder Deliverables, Aviva:

“I think the Barnies are a great format. Good speakers and the right audience.”

 

Jack Klaff, playwright and actor:

“It was bracing to witness people asking tough questions of an author. I certainly thought it was a really good talking point and as … a lot of the issues raised are important to me and it was terrific to hear them argued about in such a well-informed and pretty rigorous way.”

 

Claire Fox, director, Institute of Ideas, panellist Radio 4’s ‘Moral Maze’:

“A fantastic event… a new take on book launches…. intellectually stimulating, enjoyable and I got to meet a lot of very interesting people.”

 

Greg Klerkx, author “Lost in Space: The Fall of NASA and the Dream of a New Space Age”:

“I thought the discussion was more interesting than the book… In any event, it was fun and I hope I added something of value to the proceedings.”

 

Tim LeBon, registered existential therapist:

“I enjoyed it. A good mix of lively intellectual banter and socialising.”

 

Gulum Alamgir, NUS FE Black Students Officer:

“It lived up to my expectations and then some, you have certainly given me some terrific ideas on how to create a ‘debate and discussion’ atmosphere.”

 

Ian Joseph, Managing Director, HOPE worldwide – UK:

“First time I’d been to a ‘barnie’ and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the invitation.”

 

David Young, Project Co-ordinator South-East, SUSTRANS (Sustainable Transport Network)

“I found the event and the company stimulating, I think I was the only one awake on the train home, so much to think about, I enjoyed it, well done and thanks for the invite.”

 

Ceri Dingle, director, WORLDwrite:

“I loved it.”

 

Fiona MCEwen, researcher, Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry:

“I really enjoyed the Barnie… I have bought the book.”

 

Julian Baggini, editor, The Philosophers’ Magazine:

“I enjoyed it – I think the format is better than the usual long speech and token few questions approach. The two philosophers sitting next to me both thought it was excellent and enjoyed it, so I don’t think it is just my own bias.”

 

Liliana Pop, Lecturer, Central & Eastern European Politics, Birkbeck College:

“I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion, bought the book and will not doubt discuss it with my students in the future.”

 

Douglas Smith, Cchange:

“The format for the event seemed to work well and I thought your chairing was commendably unsycophantic.”

 

Maisie Rowe, co-director, Thomas Heatherwick Studios:

“I had a very nice night, old bean. Thank you. The next one’s in my diary.”

 

Helena Cronin, Co-Director, Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, London School of Economics:

“I think that the format of the evening is very good – congenial and time for proper discussion.”

 

Joe Kerr, professor of Critical and Historical Studies, Royal College of Art:

“It was an absolute pleasure, a really well organised event”

 

Lesley Downer, author “Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World “:

‘Of course I enjoyed the Barnie!’

 

Astrid Kirchner, Common Purpose:

‘I really enjoyed my first Bookshop Barnie experience and I was quite amazed at as to how much discussion the topic lent itself to.’

 

Henry Gee, senior editor, Nature:

“Thanks for inviting me – I enjoyed it too.”

 

Azhar, principal AzharArchitecture:

“Well done! The discussions still stay with me today, as the whole audience was animated by the proceedings. Thank you so much for a great evening, and I look forward to attending the next one.”

 

Brid Hehir, Lead for User & Community Involvement, Camden Primary Care Trust:

“I really enjoyed last night’s discussion. Well done for having convened it in such appropriate surroundings and for chairing it so well. The audience participated enthusiastically in what became a lively, informed discussion between themselves, you as the chair and the speaker.”

 

Andrew Steed, manager Standfords Bookshop, Covent Garden:

“We should think of acting as a host to some future event.”

 

Ben Stagg, architect, Buschow Henley:

“Attending the Barnie was great. To enjoy such rigorous lively debate is still a rare treat and to do so in an open setting like a bookshop is even better. (The bookshop and publishers) should really be delighted that the book aroused such interest.”

 

James Garvey, Royal Institute of Philosophy, author of ‘The Ethics of Climate Change’:

“Thanks for a thought-provoking evening.”

 

Simon Stokes, artistic director, Theatre Royal Plymouth:

“Thanks for inviting us. Its good to see a bit of cut and thrust… Please keep me updated about new events, if you will, and I’d love to try to get back to another one.”

 

Roger Whittaker, co-author of the Linux bible:

“It was most interesting and enjoyable.”

 

Richard Jackman, Professor of Economics, LSE:

“Thanks very much. I thought it was very interesting… I would be very pleased to be kept on the mailing list.”

 

David Livingstone, security consultant and ex-director, IT – UK Naval Air Command:

“This was an excellent evening… Ninety minutes flew by.“

 

Phil Mullan, author “The Imaginary Time-Bomb“:

“An enjoyable discussion – good quality turn-out.”

 

Chris Morley, David Morley Architects:

“It was very enjoyable/interesting and I will try to be a Barnies regular.“

 

Orlando Edwards, Creative Industries, British Council:

“I thought it was great, and would have liked to have stayed on to chat afterwards but … I’d be very interested in forthcoming events.”

 

David Clements, Policy Officer, Children & Families Division, Hackney Social Services:

“The beauty of a Barnie is that you never quite know what to expect other than a guaranteed grilling of the author from the ever-provocative chair, and a compelling discussion from assorted experts and commentators in the audience. The book, though far from incidental, is often little more than the starting point for debate, disagreement and engagement with some of the most important issues of the day.“

 

Caroline Mallinder, architecture & planning editor, Spon Press:

“I was pleased to be there and would certainly attend such an event again if asked… it all ended too quickly”

 

Fiona Fox, head of Science Media Centre:

“these Bookshop Barnies are a great idea – sign me up for the entire series“

 

Mark Charmer, ICONIC Network:

“(the Barnie) was fascinating and I was v.glum when I got back for having left without really hanging around and talking more about the whole thing. I’ve made a mental note never to run off immediately from one of (the) barnies in future.”

 

Tony Allsworth, DfT’s past head of road safety publicity:

‘I found (the Barnie) simulating and enjoyable. Lots of interesting people. The informality worked well… An excellent and most enjoyable event.’

 

Martin Wolf, associate editor and chief economics commentator at the Financial Times:

“It was great fun“

 

Angus Stewart, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, LSE:

“We enjoyed it. Your opening ‘salvo’ was helpful… knockabout.”

 

David Petch, commissioner, Independent Police Complaints Commission (in a personal capacity):

“I enjoyed it very much… My one regret is that I did not get to ask my question. In future I will wave my (hand) with more determination”

 

Katherine Skellon, lecturer in Creative Practice for Narrative Environments. Central St Martins College of Art & Design:

”It was refreshing to attend a debate where it wasn’t just about people just trying to make a point over and over again rather than tackling the real issues… not this one, that’s for sure!!”

 

Peter Smith, lecturer in Travel and Tourism:

“Good do last night & well handled.”

 

Wendy Earle, resources editor, British Film Institute:

“As I went home I thought of lots of ways of taking him up … but during the presentation could just react with an inner ‘grrrr’.”

 

Tim Shaw, Professor of Commonwealth Governance & Development & Director, Institute of Commonwealth Studies:

“Great“

 

Andrew Nahum, senior curator, Science Museum:

“I was about to write and thank you. It was fun, and the format was v good… Many thanks for a stimulating evening”

 

Kate Miller, Time Out London:

“Thanks again for inviting me, and for organising, such an interesting evening. I’m sure I’ll see you at another one in the future.”

 

Venu Dupa, Royal Festival Hall:

“We really enjoyed it.”

 

John McGurk, British Airline Pilots Association:

“I think the BB format is excellent, and I really enjoyed the issue. I would like to come along to others, and have a friend who was also intrigued so we could maybe fix an invite for him.”

 

Philip Booth, editorial and programme director, Institute of Economic Affairs:

“Great format.”

 

Camilla Ween, principal transport planner, Transport for London:

“I liked the fact that it was a varied audience – the range of questions was interesting and provoking.”

 

Sandy Starr, Technology editor, spiked:

“I thought that the combination of Mayer Hillman’s assertive environmentalism and your rigorous questioning worked well, and it was great that the audience
had an opportunity to chip in and pose questions. I look forward to attending any similar events that you’ve got coming up, especially if there’s scope for a decent debate.”

 

Subir Sinha, lecturer, Institutions and Development, School of Oriental and African Studies:

“That was very good fun… I enjoyed it thoroughly…please keep me posted.”

 

Stephen Rowland, professor of Higher Education, UCL:

“I very much enjoyed it… you certainly got quite a good argument going… I thought it went well.”

 

Laura Iloniemi, Architectural Press/Jonathan Glancey, architecture critic, The Guardian:

“Thanks for arranging last night. It’s great to see debates beyond the skin of buildings in the architecture circuit. Well done for organising. We had a good rant at dinner about the author’s vision that attempted such divine heights.”

 

Christoph Koerbitz, LSE PhD student on Social Justice Movements in Europe:

“Lively discussions with interesting people, and contributions from lots of different angles. My perception of the debate was that it was critical, yet not tense. In a nutshell: it was fun and stimulating being there.”

 

Victoria Connell, Client Marketing Director, The Holistic Group Limited:

“Thanks for a terrific night last night, a great crowd. I look forward to further invitations in the future.”

 

Sean Baine, chair of London Civic Forum, co-authored Joseph Rowntree report ‘Investors in Communities’:

“It made me think about what was my world.”

 

Judy Digney, arts and charities consultant:

“I found the debate extremely interesting… I’d love to be kept in touch with your programme”

 

Frank Field, MP for Birkenhead:

“I enjoyed myself.”

 

Fiona Flynn, deputy editor TES website:

“An excellent evening – I really enjoyed it. What a great host you are. Good range of people.”

 

Debbie Kuyper, director, RFK Architects (designers of Tate’s Turner Whistler Monet exhibition):

“Thanks for asking us along to a fun and interesting evening. Met some great people.”

 

Eileen Munro, Reader in Social Policy, London School of Economics:

“It was an interesting meeting… I look forward to hearing of more Barnies.”

 

Louisiana Alba, author “UnCorrected Proof“:

“Yes we did enjoy it very much even if we found ourselves not completely agreeing… I like the idea of the meeting and felt you handled it very well… we would like very much to be back for other talks.”

 

Carolyn Gaskell, Kids Company:

“I did indeed enjoy it, and would certainly appreciate being kept informed of other events. It was interesting to have an audience with such diverse backgrounds.”

 

Giovanna Forte, head Forte Communications:

“We had a top time… So all possible future Barnies will be attended.”

 

Shirley Dent, Debating Matters Press Officer:

“Very much enjoyed last night. Floor discussion was terrific.”

 

Carole Stone, networker:

“I love the Bookshop Barnie idea and thought you chaired the whole thing with such good humour and the audience was a great mix.”

 

Dr Caroline Paskell, research officer, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion:

“I very much enjoyed the event – as proven by the fact that I took two hours longer than intended to leave the post-Barnie discussion.”

 

Sara Abdulla, Editor, Macmillan Science:

“An excellent ‘do’ I thought.”

 

Ed Randall, Lecturer in Social Policy and Politics, Goldsmiths College:

“An enjoyable event.”

 

Selina O’Grady, reviewer, The Tablet:

“I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

 

Michael Cox, Professor of International Relations. London School of Economics:

“It worked well.”

 

Allen Therisa, editor, TotalSpec:

“It was good fun last night. Please do keep me posted on forthcoming events.”

 

Jonathan Foyle, architectural historian and TV presenter Time Team:

“I thought it was a hoot – thanks for asking me. Book me in for the next one.”

 

Victoria Connell. Client Marketing Director, The Holistic Group:

“Thank you for another splendid evening… Next year’s programme looks terrific.”

 

Kevin McCullogh, director, Plan:

“I really enjoyed it. Rapport, intellect AND wine!”

 

Ruth Eaton, curator and author “Ideal Cities : Utopianism and the (Un)Built Environment”:

“A very stimulating start to the evening… I greatly enjoyed it.”

 

Bruce Connal, Marketing Manager, Constable & Robinson publishers:

“From last night I can truly say that the Bookshop Barnie is an event like no other which is a credit… I wish you great success with future events.”

 

Angelina Davydova, Reuters Fellow, Green College Oxford:

“Thank you for the event. It was certainly very interesting and useful for me. I am sorry, I couldn’t stay longer.”

 

Tessa Mayes, investigative journalist:

“I really enjoyed it. Well done! Overall, it’s a good environment to get to the heart of a book – friendliness with intellectual rigour.”

 

Matthew Chiles, business consultant, HTI:

“I really enjoyed the debate. Would love to come along to future ones.”

 

Hywel Williams, author, “Britain’s Power Elite”:

“I enjoyed it all very much indeed. It was an excellent and well informed audience–deftly steered.”

 

Even those who couldn’t make it seem keen:

Sheila Anderson, Head of Communications, Natural Environment Research Council, says:

“I was on hols, and missed the Barnie. It sounded good… I would have loved to join in that. If you have another relevant to me, I’d love to come.”