We lost our Hay virginity this weekend, decamped for two days to the Welsh town of books and experienced The Hay Festival of Literature for the very first time. And what’s our verdict?
If the fresh air and green rolling hills bring lifted heads and rosy apple cheeks to human-kind, then Hay brings a light glow, a fresh bounce and a glint of romance to the world of books. Here is a truly optimistic, utopian world where everyone is brought together by their love of books, their love of reading and a shared love of wanting to be enveloped in a world of storytelling.
From music to beer to burgers to polite queues of Welly-clad people proudly sharing their muddy footprints to get into their chosen tents of chosen talks (and gently clashing in opinion on stage and outside afterwards); from Chris Evans to Kate Fox to Alex Bellos to Siri Hustvedt to Horatio Clare to Jamie Byng and co’s Letters Live and not forgetting Benedict Cumberbatch; from our very own Geoff Dyer making audiences crack up with stories of him trying to score steroids from the gym instructor onboard the USS George Bush; to London’s Groucho Club relocating in pop-up fashion inside the Hay Castle complete with their head-host in his customary red suit, from Richard Booth’s grandest wood panelled bookshop, to the Honest ’browse, grab, put money in the box” Bookstore.
In the words of one of the locals: “Mud, we do that well in Hay”. Yes you do, and a lot more than mud. Getting people, en masse, to take a few days out of their cities and towns and creating a space for everything about, inside, and around the world of books.
What an apple cheeked glow. Thank you Hay.
A + B