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Tuesday 29 May 2018

Wa-hey Hay!

Our fifteenth Hay Festival covering some 180 one-hour sessions over the years: novels, poetry, movies, chamber music, physics, biology, technology, language, fashionable ideas, politics (including visits by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton), sociology, the law, history and general fame - anything that might suggest I'm a workaday polymath on the lookout for a molehill to dominate. A guttering candle amidst encircling gloom.

One new feature this year - policemen with machine guns, for anyone's a target these days. Even I may be seen as a threat by a narrow-minded cult, blown to bits as an example to all wouldbe-intellectuals bestriding the border between Wales and England.

I ponder my funeral, supervised by members of another cult with all the wrong ideas. It's the clichés I'd resent. "He died while doing something he loved." Bollocks! My guess is dying occupies the whole of your mind; the surroundings are irrelevant.

What impact has Hay had on me? Flicking through my Hay coverage in Tone Deaf and its predecessor, Works Well, I am horrified by what I have forgotten - great, great encounters crowded out by memory banks succumbing to the passage of time. Best concentrate of what I can remember. A presentation on chromosomes which I managed to hold on to for all of ten minutes. John Updike being lordly and Seamus Heaney being charming. An elegant Frenchwoman who translated for Sarkozy, former French president. Germaine Greer's wilful interpretation of Marvell's "To his coy mistress". Despair and incomprehension at Brexit. Resurrection of the past and a shedload of fearful guesses about the future.

A worldwide cultural phenomenon in a small border town with 30 bookshops. A glacé cherry to decorate retirement.

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful this Hay Festival must be. 30 bookshops in a small border town! And still you have time to ponder your own funeral. I think what one must plan for is their last words. I want to say something that makes everyone laugh for generations.