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.