Sorry, sorry, sorry. I return from holiday and would you believe, I have to go straight to work, actual work, which, naturally, had descended into chaos without me [this is sarcasm, by the way. It’s chaos with me, too], also, I had to do late shifts (I know! The outrage!) and so was getting home past 9 pm and going splat in front of the telly also bitching about co-workers not… um… working. Blog suffered. Commenting suffered. Oops damn sorry etc. I aten’t dead.
So. After my birthday, H and I went off and spent a few days in Wales, watching Red Kites, hanging out in castles, climbing hills, admiring dams, being followed about by any number of sheep (who will follow you. Hey, you’re moving. Sheep get very bored). It was… nice. It was relaxing and peaceful and there was even occasional sunshine.
Then I got to frolic at Hay-on-Wye, and H got to go and visit his family and help clear out the loft. Ha ha! I win!
Just think! An entire festival dedicated to sitting about talking about books! The entire point, purpose and principle of the thing, books! Writing, books, reading, books, and did I mention reading? Reading! A glorification of reading! In a village the size of a hearty sneeze, lost in the hinterland between England and Wales, on a B-road that panics itself into a five-mile tail-back when a flock of sheep cross the road! God, but I love being British at times like this.
We shared a tent. For reasons that have everything to do with the fact it was the Spring Bank Holiday in Britain, it was pitched in a wet field full of sheep-shit. The tent itself was vast (so shoes could be kept firmly away from bedding) and had air-mattresses (yay!), and would have been a palatial experience if it weren’t for the fact that it was, as mentioned, a Bank Holiday weekend, and therefore rain was mandatory. And cold. Crikey fishnuts, it was cold. But hey, what’s a little hypothermia between friends. Sharpens the synapses.
Moments of Festival glory –
- Spending time with Shannon and Ann. ‘Nuff said.
- On which note, Shannon’s imitation of a bored and nosy sheep, a la Isabella from Phineas & Ferb. Cracked me up. Have had to physically restrain myself from following people about with my head on one side chanting ‘Whatcha doin’?’. And I’d never even heard of Phineas & Ferb before. Ah, Hay, how it expands one’s horizons.
- Falling repeatedly over Rob Brydon. He looks very fetching in wellies.
- The moment when we and about 500 others were attentively watching John Mullan talk ceaselessly at Kazuo Ishiguro (under the guise of interviewing him, apparently) and Ann said ‘Alan Partridge!’. I nearly burst something trying not to shriek with laughter.
- First coffee of the morning, in the open air, with sunlight on the hills all around us.
- Seeing David Mitchell interviewed (or, rather, harangued) by John Mullan (again). I instantly developed a little literary crush. Good Lord, but the man is adorable *Goes off to pat her copy of Cloud Atlas*
- Sitting on the soaking edge of a covered walk-way, on a plastic-wrapped copy of the Guardian, drinking coffee (coffee featured very largely in my festivities) and scribbling in my note-book as the rain pattered down all around me. Astonishingly poncy thing to do, but delightful for that very reason. Ahh, irony.
- Atheistical philosophy with A.C. Grayling at 10 am on a Sunday. As he said, the festival organisers clearly had a sense of humour.
- Lolling on the grass with Ann, talking about sex, and reducing the young men in the next party to nooo-we’re-not-eavesdropping sniggers by describing the tribulations of making whoopie with a person over a foot taller than you are (‘… and then you end up with an elbow each side of your head…’). (Incidentally, I have no idea how we ended up discussing sex. We were both stone cold sober at the time. Ann is a bad influence).
- Giles Coren. Giles Coren looking sweetly bewildered on being gently told off for saying ‘cunt’ all the time (‘See? I don’t know what I’m allowed to say anymore!’). Oddest mixture of raging, ranting and cuddliness.
- Patting my haul of nice shiny autographed books. Autographed! To me! Though I am afraid I babbled ridiculously at A.C. Grayling. Oops.
On Sunday evening, Ann took me back to her place, which is considerably closer to Hay than my place, and kindly tipped me into her spare room, where I went spark-out, like a flicked switch, as soon as my head hit the pillow. In the morning, I met the delightful young Lord Of The Household, Harry, trotting past butt-naked in preparation for demonstrating just how down with the potty-thing he was these days. Bless. The cute. I squeeee.
Ann, Harry and John took me into Stratford Upon Avon for a row on said Avon (thank you, John) and a spot of lunch. The rowing was very jolly, but lunch was thwarted by the Bank Holiday crowds, damn their eyes, didn’t they know we needed a table? But despite being tired and being dragged from cafe to pub to cafe, Harry behaved beautifully, and watching him eat cake with a very large plastic fork was a decided comical highlight of the weekend. And then he fell asleep, so Ann and I sneaked off for a pub lunch all by ourselves before I and my enormous bag of books had to be pushed onto a train and sent home.
So, you know, that went well.