Saturday, June 01, 2013

A few more thoughts on how to enjoy the Hay Festival
Kids at Hay, joining in. Pic by Finn Beales

A good pal of mine described Hay as where the earnest reek of self improvement collides with the overwhelming stench of smugness. Of course he's right. Entirely. But, I like it for no other reason than it can throw up the possibility of enjoying someone sharing an idea you had never, ever thought of before. What's so bad about that?

Here are some thoughts I had from this time.

Go to a live recording of a radio programme. It's good fun, professionally run and as it has a multitude of guests from all around the festival. On Suzie Klein's Radio 3 Drivetime programme we had Peter Florence, the founder of Hay; maths guru Marcus du Sautoy, psychologist Oliver James, historian and writer of a new book on 1913 Charles Emmerson and my favourite of them all, Amit Chaudhuri who was talking about his new tome on Calcutta. We also saw the brilliant Ian Macmillan with band called Wora, writers Rupert Thomson and Tiffany Murray and a Welsh language poet Menna Elfyn.

Get kids to do stuff. Doesn't matter what, but it helps them get something out of a poet, writer or an illustrator if they can join in. We saw Dan Abnett, a writer of comic books do a whole session on how to draw a dragon.

Talk to people. OK, so my kids thought the risk of talking to a Tarquin was too much of a stretch out of their comfort zones, but it's always really nice to chat to people in queues and at the shop about their experience. And I have yet to regret stopping to chat to an author you recognise. They are always pleased to do so.

Some events are seemingly unrelated to books, ideas or anything at all, but they work. Take Michael Vaughan on the Ashes. He said more about team work and workplace psychology than any amount of experts.

Travelling through Wales, or England? We drove there via Wrexham and then through mid-Wales. It was beautiful, but exhausting. The drive home via Leominster and Shopshire and Cheshire was quicker and easier. We did the train in a day last year and it was harder work than it should have been.

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