The speech took in fellow Liverpudlian Sir Paul McCartney ("What do you say to a living legend? I thought, 'Hi, Paul'), a convoluted conversation with a civil servant about why the arts no longer figure in some teacher-training subjects ("because the arts are not a subject"), and how Picasso could have got a doctorate by studying his works but not by creating them.
"How is it that writing about novels is a higher intellectual calling than writing novels? If writing novels is not an intellectual activity, how is it that writing about them is?" he asked. Answers on a postcard, please.