Last Friday I took the train home to spend the Bank Holiday weekend in bibliophile heaven: Hay-on-Wye. I packed light because I knew that buying books was just a possibility, it was a given. It was my second time visiting the festival and the little town bursting with bookshops, and the previous year I had gone into a manic frenzy, buying books after each event, queuing up for half an hour to get it signed and then rushing to the next talk. By the end of the May Bank Holiday in 2017 I had sixteen books, an alarmed mother, and a considerably lighter purse.
As a seasoned Hay-goer, this year I decided to take a slightly less intense approach. I booked slightly less events I asked myself whether or not I would read the books in the next year or so. I still haven’t read all the books I bought last year.
My plan seems to have worked, I only bought four books and I’ve already read Dolly Alderton’s frank and funny memoir. Here are my Hay highlights:
- Getting a banoffee crepe almost immediately after entering the festival site. It was tasty
- Hearing Bettany Hughes talk about the histories of Istanbul, the women who played an important role in its past and how she drags her daughters along on historical walks
- Hearing Laura Bates speak about Everyday Sexism and her mum’s book club, her passion for educating young people, her eloquence and her repeal t-shirt. She was brilliant.
- Buying sloe gin. You can never have too many bottles of sloe gin.
- Getting to sit in the same tent as Helena Jones, a fellow Welsh woman who has nearly eighty years on me (she’s 102!!) but still has sass and a brilliant sense of humour. She recited a poem she learnt as a child, word for word with so much flair. I could have sat in that tent and listen to her and Tessa Dunlop talk for hours.
- Burgers from the Burger Shop in Hay. So tasty. So, so good.
- Visiting the bookshops again!
- Ian McEwan reading an unpublished short story he had written about humans, love and AIs which made me go on a binge watching Humans.
- Dolly Alderton and Clemency Burton-Hill in discussion. Dolly’s friend Farly and Clemency’s mother nursing Clemency’s newborn and having him make an impromptu appearance on the stage.
- Sitting in the car with the heating on drying off and sheltering from the torrential rain
- Michael Wolff on Trump (hilarious)
And that was Hay 2018. Here’s to next year!