Now that the 2009 Mercantile season has been bruited about, it’s ok to start talking about A.S. Byatt, who will be the Niehoff Lecturer on October 15. We’ve set to work on reading her novels so we won’t feel like an idiot if we are the ones with the picking up at the airport duty. We’ve felt like an idiot all too often, most particularly when we couldn’t remember where we had put the car when we picked up Salman Rushdie. Make that Sir Salman. And Dame Antonia. Is that what we call her? Or is it Dame A. S.? Or is she like Lord Olivier who insisted on being called Larry and we have to call her Toni. Or Toni Sue. We are praying that her U.S. agent will have the answer to that. Instead of starting out with the blockbuster Possession, we’ve been reading the Virgin in the Garden which is v. good. We’ll do Possession last. If you go to her modest but attractive website and dig a bit you’ll find out that she is as tempted by computer solitaire as the rest of us, so we’ll have that to talk about on the way in from CVG.