Monday, May 25, 2009

Hay on Why Did It Have To Be So Brief?

Pottery/Poetry, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

To Hay on Wye yesterday for what felt like the longest of days.

Last year (when I took this photo) I was there for a week. It rained. A year's worth of rain. More Hay in Wye than on it. Roads were closed and the days became long and difficult to fill. My trip had been arranged at such short notice it meant many of the events I wanted to see were already sold out. There was fun last year for sure but it was two day's worth spread out over a long, wet week.

Yesterday I went to the other extreme. It was sunny. Gloriously so. And I was there for only a few hours. Everything I took part in was fun but because of that I'd rather over-committed myself and had a day with little or no respite.

If I was more organised it would have been better. But I didn't manage to get any breakfast before being picked up at 8.30am so by the time I arrived at the festival site - at about 12.15 - all I'd had to eat was a chocolate bar picked up at a petrol stop en route.

I walked out of the car and made my way through the crowds to the Sky Arts Zone where I was whisked straight into make-up. I snaffled some fruit from the green room before going on set for a Sky Arts interview show with the alarmingly handsome Marcus Zuzak, David Starkey and myself being interviewed by Mariella Frostrup. Marcus and David should do a double act together, partly because they're both relaxed, witty and charming but mainly because they could call it Starkey and Butch.

The moment it was over I was whizzed with great urgency to the Guardian Yurt (and the fact that the Guardian has a yurt there says everything you need to know about festival in general) so that I could meet up with the brilliant John Crace (author of the ace Digested Reads) to record a Guardian podcast... or HayCast as I believe they're calling them.

We recorded it as we strolled down Hay's High Street at a nice genteel pace before jumping in a car and careering back to the festival site where I made the same urgent walk through the same crowds and straight into the same make-up chair to have my face re-caked in time for another Sky Arts show.

This time it was What The Dickens with Sandi Toksvig as chair, Chris Addison and Sue Perkins as team captains and myself and Robin Ince as the guests. A lovely bunch of people - which is just as well because I could feel my energy levels flagging. I snaffled more fruit.

Two make-up sessions, two apples, a banana and a chocolate bar... I was living the life of a supermodel. Only one that had been severely underpaid for getting out of bed that morning.

When the show finished I was relieved to discover I had fifty minutes before I needed to meet someone from the festival to sort out my event - the real reason I was there.

At 5.45pm, by now gibbering quite incoherently I sat down for my first meal of the day. I'm sure if I'd been able to make proper sentences I'd have bored Chris and Robin with my tale of tiredness. As it was they just looked kindly at me and then spoon fed me cake. It was the sugar rush I needed.

I was surprised by how big a venue I was in for the reading. Also by how ghastly a title it carried. The Barclays Wealth Pavilion. So brazen. Almost whorish. A Hay Ho'. Heigh ho. It's almost admirable for a bank to be so honest.

I discovered later that the reading had been moved from another venue. I only found out when a lovely old lady bought a book and told me that she'd had a ticket but missed the event. It turned out she'd gone to the original venue and been let in so hadn't realised I wasn't speaking until the thing had started. "I saw a quite interesting political discussion instead," she said.

I wonder how many of my audience had come for the quite-interesting-political-discussion and been surprised when I walked on.

The reading lasted an hour and then the queue for books was lovely and chatty and lasted another hour. By 9.15 I was back in the car and on my way home.

I left home at 8.20am and walked back through the door in a bit of a haze at 12.30am. I really don't feel like I properly saw Hay at all. I'm not complaining - well, I was when it was 5.30 and I hadn't had a meal yet - but in general I'm really not. It's just strange to be there without feeling like I was actually there. An hour on the lawn with an ice-cream and a book would have made all the difference.

I probably had about two days worth of fun but it was all squeezed into nine hours. The lesson here is that, if possible, I should go to Hay on Wye for two days, not nine hours and not a week. It's a lesson learned.


Anonymous said...

Hubba hubba!

Maire said...

What supermodel eats chocolate bars?

Stuart said...

Do you know what the interview show you did was called and when it's showing/repeating if it's already been on? I'd rather like to see that.

Mike said...

You wanna get yourself down to Homebase, Dave. Much more chilled...

John G said...

It was great to meet you at the book signing. My wife is already tucking into your book. It made our day.

I really enjoyed your graphs in "Are you Dave Gorman". Perhaps you could include some more of these on your cycle tour? Please and thanks.

Unknown said...

Enjoyed the show, and especially the reference to the Beagle B&B (and their definition of a successful life not being 6% growth last year, 8% this year and let's go for 10% next year, guys...). Couldn't say hello afterwards, as the children were restless/tired in the carpark but looking forward to the non-bicycle tour in 2010 in York.