Exeter Lunch with Bel Mooney

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Bel Mooney Guest Speaker a the Exeter and District English Speaking Union Lunch Event on 20th September 2017

Bel Mooney was the guest speaker at the September lunch event.  Bel is something of a journalistic and authorial polymath. For many years she has contributed to newspaper and periodicals with columns on a huge variety of topics from politics and current affairs, to charitable causes and as an advice columnist. She has written fiction for adults and children and a number of lifestyle books. She has also broadcast extensively and is a regular reviewer of books. If there is a common theme running through Bel Mooney’s work it is her sympathy for and love of people, evidenced by the title of her talk, namely, “The Milder Shores of Love”.

She began her “advice” column on “The Times” moving later to “The Daily Mail” for which paper she continues to write. Bel spoke of how she had learned so much about the lives of people from all backgrounds from the letters she receives from her readers, which she described as being akin to “mini-novels”. Indeed, she drew on some major literary figures when she read some of them and compared the stories and dilemmas with those written by Shakespeare, Cobbett, Tolstoy and Faulkner.

Bel said that she could categorise the problems brought to her by readers as those emanating from females in partnerships, which were paramountcy about marriage and relationship issues, family dilemmas, and “angst”, such as loneliness, separation from family members, financial worries and the like. Men tended to raise issues concerning relationships, bereavement and work and friendships.

In answering the letters, Bel goes to great lengths to avoid being judgmental, although she feels that there are times when she feels the necessity to be very straightforward if she feels that the reader is not adopting an appropriate approach. This requires very careful thought as to whether she is advising the adoption of her own moral principles, which might not reflect those of her reader. In turn, this raises the question of whether she believes that her readers trust her judgment. Bel spent some time articulating the advantage held by people of a certain age and experience, who are able to use their life skills to addressing problems being experienced by others. She is an advocate of the principle advanced by Charles Darwin that human being can (for the most part) and should learn the art of “controlling their thoughts”.

Bel’s talk generated very considerable interest and many questions which the audience was able to take away with them and ponder.

Anyone interested in attending Exeter ESU events or becoming a member should contact the Membership Secretary Margaret Guyver on 01392 491898.

This story was submitted by the ESU Exeter branch. Please click here for information on this branch and its upcoming events.