Hooray for Hay!

Gosh, such an early wake up but such fabulous fun.

So, bleary eyed and not so bushy tailed, I surfaced Friday morning at 5.05am – thankfully with good reason.  For I and the rest of the clan were heading to Hay, the Hay Festival to be precise.  An excellent location to hang out and let the experience and erudition of the Artists (Hay’s word, not mine), diffuse into all of one’s parts.

Hence armed with tickets, my husband maybe a little ambitious with his back to back programme, we headed out West to see and hear real published authors; sit and listen starry-eyed to historians and cheer on the champions of children’s/teenagers’ literature.

It was soggy, really soggy – Friday that is, as we’d booked to attend events over a two day period.

Kick off (10.00hr) saw us happily stationed in the mid to back audience of Simon and Alex Scarrow. Both brothers, both writers and both entertaining.  I’ll confess now, I haven’t read either, though this in no way distracted from the appeal (however husband and small chap have enjoyed muchly). For they confidently sell their product and enchanted all of us with extracts from their books, answering questions from the audience in a very honest way and challenging six contestants to a history quiz.

Moving to the 14.30hr slot – small chap and my mystery event – as we had no idea what we were up for – though had a feeling it might be about puberty from a girl’s point of view.   Yes, some young males might be disinterested, though luckily this one I feel is beyond being put-off, rather desires the inside scoop.  And the scoop was plentiful.

Louise Rennison, it was an absolute pleasure being in your audience.  You were laugh out loud good fun from the moment you stepped on stage.  Furthermore, you engaged everyone completely with your terrifically layback and genuine approach to growing up and describing it, both in words, personal tales and actions. Your extracts were a mix of chortle loudly whilst patting one’s eyes so one’s mascara wouldn’t run, especially the re-tell of Tallulah’s evening at the movies and what happens when she reaches home.

As testament to your impress factor, small chap whispered across within ten minutes of being in your presence, ‘Can we buy some of her books please?’ (thankfully he said please which is not only a relief, though further evidence of how much enjoyment he was experiencing). Honestly though, I wasn’t waiting for him to ask, for I’d already decided, this lady requires much more of my time. You were so worth the wait at book signing and thank you for looking pleased to meet us.

Day Two  – dawns.

9.00hr – found us back in Big Tent, in the company of Charlotte Higgins as Chair and Bettany Hughes, Alice Oswald, Madeline Miller and Tim Whitmarsh on the panel, discussing for the most part, interpretations of Homer’s Iliad.

Admittedly, I was a little nervous that this might go over my head, though luckily it didn’t, well not all of it. Instead I found myself contemplating ways that I could encourage the five of them to come over to my house later for a drink and a further chat.  For they were all so good at explaining their intentions and approaches to the text, putting across their enthusiasm for the subject and instilling in us all – the importance, brilliance and impact that both The Odyssey and the Iliad carry.

Ohh and I also took in a little celebrity spotting (aside from obviously what was on stage) for in the audience there was one of, the very friendly and hardworking members of the Creation Theatre team whom I forced my young chap to go up to and say ‘Hello’.

Post event, husband rushed off for book signing with Madeline Miller and Bettany Hughes (yes, I feel he is as starry eyed as I am) and small chap and I headed off to AA Gill talking to John Mitchinson, hoping Daddy would make it in time.  And yes he did.

Mr Gill and Mr Mitchinson, were a super match.  The audience was HUGE. And the topic for discussion was based around AA Gill’s new book, The Golden Door: Letters to America.

A very, very, entertaining mix of wit, interesting fact, strong opinion, a call from Mummy, the random expletive, wonderful story telling and a riveted audience. Pure enjoyment.

Post a break and happily the sun arriving, husband headed off to take in some World War II chats and small chap and I returned to the children’s/teenage scene.  First stop – 13.00hr – Philip Reeve talks to Sarah McIntyre.  In actual fact less talk to each other, more interaction with their very eager assembled listeners.  We were treated to extracts from Mr Reeve’s new book Goblins; introduced to Clovenstone; invited to fire a goblin at a flip chart using a bratapult; and let in on a collaboration between Mr Reeve and Miss (or Ms or Mrs, sorry Wikipedia couldn’t tell me) McIntyre which will hopefully arrive within the next 12-18 months.

Then the One small chap had been really waiting for, his favourite author – Christopher Paolini (14.30hr), and what a wonderful high to leave Hay on.

For the young Mr Paolini (born 1983), has not only devoted over half his life to producing/writing the ‘magnificent’ (small chap’s description) Inheritance Cycle and in the process pleasing millions of readers worldwide, he also -in the flesh- radiates enthusiasm, is an incredibly effervesce individual and I feel is a wonderful and inspiring role model.  He provided the audience with a brief background to how it all began, what he’s currently up to and where he’s going. Further too, he gave the assembled mass the news they most wanted to hear, that there would be a 5th tome in the cycle, though they may need to wait as he has twenty other books he’s interested in writing as well.  What a relief!  He wasn’t going to leave his adoring audience wanting, he’s going to provide them with further for their feast.  This Big Tent event was Big Pleasure and beautifully topped off with a meeting and signing with the man.

I had a sensational two days. Thank you Hay Festival!