Keeri who loved humans

Keeri who loved humans
Something to say?

Thursday, 4 June 2015

The Hay Effect


I have, for many years felt that this was something I wanted to do, but it always happened when I watched some scintillating author like Will Self or similar on the T V, talking with obvious confidence about books, writing, the soul and the state of the economy. I am the devoted acolyte, swept away by the power, not only of words, but sheer hubris. I tried reading a book by Will Self after one such occasion, but soon realised neither my vocabulary nor my cognitive tools were up to it.

   But there were many others, almost by accident, there on T V, authors and thinkers talking to the anchors, the plastic rose waiting in the wings to be offered at the end of the interview. Again, I would say to myself - next year, must get organised. However I had no idea where Hay-on-Wye was - somewhere in Sussex? Lake District? This year I struck lucky. One of my long list of Book Clubs, which help me to push my demons away to the corners of the  bedroom at night, offered to take some of us to Hay if we wished. Peter, one of the organisers, patient, considerate and relaxed, did everything. He booked hotels, arranged vehicles, kept us all informed. It was easy. All I had to do was get myself to Barons Court BP Connect, ( nearly messed that simple one up, but was rescued by son.) and the rest was in his hands. And how safe and gentle those hands turned out to be.

   When you arrange to travel with four others in a car, for three-and-a-half hours, ( I had googled Hay and knew how far it was now) you know you are letting yourself in for captivity in the company of strangers. I was pleasantly surprised. They treated me like heirloom China n deference to my age, but they were interesting, with varied backgrounds and opinions; the hours went quickly. I did not close my eyes once.

   At the end of the journey, again my expectations were limited. Peter had booked me into a B and B, called Sunnymount. I envisaged morning trips down the corridor to bathroom queues, small plastic cups in the bedroom tray, never quite enough to hold a big, first-thing tea. But the room was light-filled and fresh, the bathroom was mine alone for the duration and the tea-tray was generous. The mug of tea could turn my morning battery on to full.

   Denise and Bob, who run it were slick and pleasant. I loved the breakfast room, where we met up in passing for a cooked English breakfast. Denise foresaw every need of a paranoid old Indian woman: pillows enough to prop up my neck to read, multiple electric outlets to charge phone I Pad etc and T V and radio if all else failed. The tariff was way below what I thought it would be. I can't wait to go back next year.

   In passing, I started the first day at Hay listening to Anthony Beavor on the Ardennes Battle. It was the kind of talk in which you expected the sound-and-light system to show all on a back-drop. Beavor merely talked, but I had read his Second World War , two years before, and loved it. He had this anecdotal touch, which made History come alive. (And his 'o' sound was a delight to listen to; it was a parody of posh.) I had bought the hard copy, read the first 25 pages and then downloaded it to Kindle. It WAS heavy; I wilted, my arthritic fingers sagged - on Kindle it was perfect, Interesting, long, filling in gaps in my understanding of that era and its torments.

   I listened to many interesting talks at Hay, disagreed with some - but all were provoking.  My poor brain was bubbling, waiting to say something, do something, think a little differently. All in the next blog, starting with Hariri of the SAPIENS fame, the depth of whose intelligence and the level of engagement with the audience, was never surpassed by anyone else, Tom Holland, with no satisfactory answers to the Terrorist threat, Carol Black on occupational illnesses, Kashuo Ishiguro... I am sated. I have to tell everyone everything. Look to my next excited tumble of words.

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