Published: 06:00, 08 June 2021
| Updated: 11:29, 08 June 2021
During Beckett in Folkestone - the presentation and trail as part of this year's Folkestone Book Festival - you hear that playwright and author Samuel Beckett enjoyed his own company.
And, after going on the hour and a half discovery of how he spent his time in the seaside town back in 1961 awaiting his secret wedding, it became clear to me that I don't enjoy my own company nearly as much as he did.
Due to the socially distanced nature of the trail, many of those trying it will do it on their own, as I did. It involves heading to a number of sites (using an MP3 player and/or a map) including his hotel room; a pub where he liked to sit on his own; somewhere to gaze out to sea; rounding off at the cavernous room where he and his long time partner Suzanne married.
The period details seemed absolutely spot on. In the Clifton Hotel, the room even smelt musty like it had sat like that since the 60s (it hadn't, as the hotel he actually stayed in is no longer standing).
There were some refreshing moments, including looking out to see at The Leas; walking through a picturesque churchyard at St Mary and St Eanswythe Church and passing the Bayle Pond. I also saw parts of the town I never knew existed.
At each indoor venue, there was a performance by an actor - including Dame Harriet Walter, who had quite the surprise up her sleeve, and Russell Tovey, who showed how journalists always know when there's a story out there (though he was denied actually publishing it!)
I did the trail on a rainy, grey day in Folkestone, and by the end of it, I had learnt an awful lot about Beckett - his likes and dislikes; his phenomenal writing ability and the accolades he received against his will; the two relationships he had with women in his life and, above all... how much he avoided people.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in the British Lion pub, which when I arrived, was an absolute hive of activity, filled with laughing and chatting Folkestone folk and visitors. But, Beckett preferred to sit alone, so I was shown into a curtained room to watch a sketch by Russell Tovey, accompanied only by Beckett's half drunk pint (presumably it had not sat there since 1961).
Writing can be a solitary occupation, even those of us doing the lesser version of journalism can testify to that, and I know Beckett was doing his best not to be spotted, avoiding the 1961 equivalent of the paparazzi, but I was left feeling a little desolate by the end.
Maybe the weather did not help, but I would recommend - unless, like Beckett, you like a very solitary excursion - take someone with you.
Beckett in Folkestone, conceived and curated by Sean Doran and Liam Brown, is on selected dates, with time slots, until June 12. Book here.