I’m an avid reader. So much so, my mother often got very cross with me for reading too much as a child. Can you imagine? My mother and I laugh about this now, in a world when children are more interested in social media screens than turning a page of a book. But I’m not going to go down that particular rabbit hole - I’ll save that for another column.

I mention books because I’m writing this column in the afterglow of attending a wonderful local literary festival. LitFest forms part of the annual Proms at St Jude’s arts festival and is held right here on our doorstep in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

This year’s LitFest offerings were a veritable pick and mix to suit all tastes. From Radio 4’s Today presenter Justin Webb discussing his sharp yet touching memoir of his childhood, The Gift of a Radio, with the doyenne of interviewing, Dame Jenni Murray (former, and to my mind, most iconic, presenter of Women’s Hour).

Ham & High: Shelley-Anne went to the local literary festivalShelley-Anne went to the local literary festival (Image: Shelley-Anne Salisbury)

There's more, Henry Marsh (eminent brain surgeon and memoir writer) discussing his latest book, And Finally, about his own battle with cancer with the BBC’s health editor, Hugh Pym; all the way through to Paul Hayward (football journalist and aficionado) talking about his book, England Football, with Daniel Gallan, sports journalist at the Guardian.

There really was something for everyone in the impressive line-up of eight talks spread over the two days.

And if a local literary festival alone is not enough for you, this is followed by a full seven days of sublime live music, comedy shows and a family day, culminating with the festival’s very own, and much anticipated, Last Night at the Proms.

All of this is held in the beautiful setting of St Jude’s and its surrounds on Central Square, the heart of the Suburb. All surplus funds go to support North London Hospice and Toynbee Hall, two incredible charities.

In my opinion (this is an opinion column after all) Hampstead and Highgate residents are lucky to have this wonderful arts festival within easy reach. And the invitation is open to everyone who loves good books, music, comedy and generally an excellent arts festival - Hampstead and Highgate residents or not.

But please don’t take my word for it, try it for yourselves next year: promsatstjudes.org.uk

  • Shelley-Anne Salisbury is a mediator, writer and the co-editor of Suburb News, themediationpod.net.