“What a good looking young boy” says the hotel owner Mr
Gwynne as Mrs Gwynne busies herself past him and back into the kitchen for the
keys to my room. They’re cheery enough. They
could be two friendly voles in toad of toad hall. This small bed and breakfast Belmont House,
is warm and friendly and perfectly situated in the centre of Hay. I am here for
the Hay on Wye
Literature festival, the most famous literary festival in the United
Kingdom tucked gently but confidently into
the collar bone of The
Black Hills of Wales.
After downing my bags I return down stairs on my way out, to
chat to hovering Mr Gwynne about his business.
There's nothing a self employed guy likes more than rattling on about his
business so I ask him about his. “had enough of it” he says
briskly “thirty seven years in this house and I’m done”. He’s not grumpy. I glimpse the pictures of his
grown son and daughters on the fireplace.
They’ve flown the nest and now the transient nature of the B and B is maybe
a cruel reminder that in his life, everyone seems to have moved on. He’s not
depressed, simply resigned that he’s not moving anywhere and now nature moves relentlessly towards him.
I close the door and walk out into the fresh Welsh air and
in within about five minutes pass Mark E Smith walking up
the road. I know him of sorts, from
Manchester days. My career can be mapped
by the various meetings with Mark – not
that he would remember any of them. The first was on a TV show with Anthony H
Wilson called Another Side of Midnight in 1988. Bizzarely there contribution to
that show is on Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wygQmJ59E4Q . I remember the disgusted (and possibly
snobby) make up person discussing the
knickers that the one of his musicians
had left in her dressing room. I was
young and it formed an impression, they were not clean! Jeez that was in 1988.
I’m making my way
to the festival bus stop “nice to see a friendly face” he says to me and then asks how to get somewhere. Having
just arrived I have no idea how to get wherever it is that he is marching
too. He’s on tour at the moment
promoting his autobiography. This whole literary thing, It’s a new
world for him.