I wake at Belmont House, 6am and walk outside to see Hay in the morning. It is silent as if the air is hovering waiting for the rush of day. I have breakfast at 7am, a couple of scrawny sausages and egg and at 10 am I’m off, ten minutes through the town, to
The Festival fields. It’s raining now. It is grey and it is damp but everything is slightly gorgeous too – lush. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” – the saying derives from Sweden.
At 11.25pm I am at the Guardian Hay House inside the festival and the home of the Guardian podcast. I have my Obama 08 T shirt on which is getting a lot of love from
assorted peoples. The interview begins with two other authors, Francesca Simon (Horrid Henry), Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl). These authors sell hundreds of thousands of books. I am the least qualified of the three “childrens writer” interviewees but enjoy it and them, all the same. You can hear the interview here and Suitcases and Muddy Parks a poem that I read on the podcast http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/audio/2008/may/27/haycast04. The interview ends at 12.30pm. I am out by 12.45pm
Time for a quick cigarette. I hate this habit. I am escorted by Ruth Hay to the next tent. Between 1pm and 12.30pm I’m in a workshop with twelve sharp as a pin young people ranging from the age ranges of 12 to 17. By the end of the workshop each one has the first draft of something magic and I am proud of the work produced and the produce to produce it. In fact i am over the moon. Walking on air. The workshop ends, with beaming and smiling young people who have worked hard and enjoyed themselves, the two criteria for my working life. I could go home happy now. I don’t do many workshops because I love teaching, and I love writing more.
I saunter along the soggy gangplank (did I say that it was raining?) to the green room where Brian patten is stood after the end of his and Roger McGough’s children’s reading to two thousand of them. I can tell was a good gig. You can virtually
hear the applause around him. He’s beaming, suitcase packed and off to go. On
June 23rd at he Arts theatre in London I’ll be giving a talk on the influence of The
Mersey Sound, the book they brought out forty years ago in 1967. We stand and chat and say goodbye. You can hear the about my event in an interview I did with Tom Chivers here http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/content/info/audio/uti/
I haven’t eaten a thing since this morning and it’s pushing 3pm. Not eating is easy to do in this environment. It’s also dangerous. Lunch. I walk into the artists section of the dining tent and introduce myself to John Bird. Within the first two minutes of meeting Mr Bird he says “I used to be a racist. Now I have a pubjabi wife and support Obama”. Neither inclines me to assume that he or any other supporter of Oboma with a Punjabi wife is racist or not. That a man has a relationship with a woman does not indicate that he is not sexist. Bird’s achievements are great. And if there is one thing I have learned it is that being part of the anti rascism movement does not make a non-racist. If only the British would understand this they wouldn’t be stuck in such post colonial trauma.
I then sit with comedian Marcus Brigstocke photographer Nick Cobbing comedienne and broadcaster Carrie Quinlan. It was a fun lunch with fun people. Steak, meadium rare, fat cut chips and alone peak of mayonnaise, for the chips. One thing about Hay – the food is gorgeous. Sated and with an evenings main performance ahead, my final professional engagement, I Travel back to Teh belmont for a couple of hours R and R.