"I also had no idea I was making a speech...
"I have heard this eloquently positioned argument from Juliet and then this eloquent apology from Neil and then this eloquent culinary description from Ramsey and I have no eloquence left except to say it has been a fucking great time being here. It's been a time when everything connected up again; people that I hadn't seen for a long time: Ramsey, and your family, and people I hadn't seen for a long time are still there, you pick up the threads of the conversations that you left two, ten years ago and, boy, the rhythm is still there, the concerns are the same, the passions are still the same.
"The only thing I would want to take issue with... Somebody this morning reminded me of an early speech I had made about claiming ground for ourselves as writers of the fantastique. Claiming artists for ourselves and instead of Blake belonging to 'them', Blake is ours and Goya is ours - these are painters who are painting in the same way, in the same 'genre' if we have to use that word, as Neil is writing and Juliet is writing; we are all working in the same way, with the same concerns, with the same passions. And what has happened historically is that the straight world, the world of straight critics and the people, the taste-makers, have taken the cream, if you will, off each generation and decided it is no longer generic, it's 'Classic', right? And that's fucked, let's be honest, that's fucked; it's a lie.
"I think we should cancel the word genre, I think we should throw the word genre out. We are not a genre, which suggests a small or perhaps even somewhat besieged condition - we are a continent and, actually most of the smaller things which came along afterwards like naturalism, realism, these things are a mere 200 years old, to pick up Ramsey's word, they are striplings. How long has naturalistic fiction been around - maybe 300 years?
"We are in a tradition which began, we may assume, around campfires as stories were told and gods were made and goddesses were worshipped and the fundamentals, the primal concerns of human beings, were laid out. Fuck genre - this isn't about genre, this is about the fact that we are writing and painting and making in film form expressions of the profoundest issues of the human heart!
"I am proud that we are gathered in the name of that concern and I am angry that we still have to fight for a pissy little piece of review space in The Sunday fucking Times and I think, as of this conversation, I don't want to hear genre - we're not genre! Anita Brookner is genre - she had her night in Sunderland... (and very boring he was!) Let's start to look at ourselves and let's stop characterising ourselves as a besieged minority: we are connected by an umbilical cord which is unbreakable to every huge movement in the workings of theology and philosophy - the labours of the imagination as far back as we know how to look. Neil has written incredibly eloquently about that; made comic books which made those very connections.
"I'm going to stop - I just want to say how proud I am and how excited I am because as I get older and as I make more work and step back from the work and step back from the work of my friends and my associates whose skills are still expanding and still growing, I see that we are a force that will actually, from a distance, be seen as 'defining' in some way. I believe there will be people who look back, perhaps at this night and say, 'Look who was there - ' and run off the names and it will be clear that those names together did not represent an island - fuck an island - they were a huge force, they were a continent called the imagination..."
FantasyCon, Nottingham, Sunday 24 September 2006