Making Hay in the Bath

By  1am this morning  I was on BBC radio Five’s   Up All Night  alongside Hay Festival director Peter Florence and comedian Andre Vincent and critic Anita Seth. The programme presented by the  irrepressible,  vastly experienced and hilarious Dotun Adebayo  continued through the early hours.   At about 3am Peter requested I take part in apanel at 11am this morning  with Sarfraz Mansoor  and Rosie boycott as HowardJacobson could not be there.  I said yes; must have been the early morning delirium.

At  three thirty am there was a slight break for News or something and I slipped out of the studio  The entire Hay Festival Site was silent. Not a soul, not a bird nor fox.  Then agraceful visitation. As I stood  a   flock of mist descended  like the breath of creativity itself. The books were exhaling.  How many people get to see this place in this way.   Securityguards patrol the site outside but this moment of silence, stillness as the mist poured in was mine  and the privelige of living in the moment.  I left at 5pm and slept  at my hotel  for three hours in the softest bed in the

world.   It was like sleeping on  marshmellows. I returned  to the festival for 11am. A  different place. The sun belted down. Couples lay  back to catch  rays while children hop skipped and jumped over them. Icecreams wobbled in procession like the beehives of a thousand screaming beatles fans. Children racing from a Jaqueline Wilson event to the bookshop.  And the  green room was its usual assortment of goodies. 

In a scurry we, the participants,  are shuffled off to the Barclays theatre  and a packed out sold out audience - none expecting me har har. The event continues introduced and chaired by Peter Florence himself and a good time was had by all.  I got to enjoy both Sarfraz and Rosie and to hear their unique experiences in the industry.  It all alsts till 1pm. 

I do an interview with Lisa Dwan and meet again Paul Blezzard,  the  now literary  editor of The Lady.   It was important that I got a goody bag for my ills. And after much undignified harrying I did.  But an extra bonus was  a crate of  Cava.    This gorgeous place. This celebration of creativity.   I have to tear myself away.  At  4pm I’m  into the car  to travel to Bath for an evening performacne which is three hours away.

I arrive at The  Komedia  meet Simon Munnery    and Norman Lovett who talks about the  book he is writing.  And in walked  the exceptional presence of  barb Jungr with a book under her arm.  “It’s julian’s darling.”. The Julian is Julian Clarey her good friend. I take a guess at instinct in thinking him extremely clever. “he’ss seriously clever darling.” she saysI like Barb already.  She is the perfect Mistress of Cermonies for the evening performing her own songs too.  A class act.

I read my poems on stage in the allotted slot and  because the  hotel was so bad in bath  (entirely my fault)  I decided to go home after the gig and drove for  three hours through the night  back to London. I had to stop in a motorway service station to sleep an hour and then drink cover. I'd propped open my eyes with a couple of matchsticks and propped up my chin with a pile of books on my lap. I was determined to get home whatever the cost and arrived by midnight fast asleep with my hands on the wheel. Okay that bit isn't true.

That was a twenty two hour working day.   A radio broadcast, a television interview, apanel discussion at Hay, a Hay goody bag and a crate of Cava,  a performance on stage at the Komedia and four hours driving. I loved every minute of it.   Done. 

 

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