Hay festival diary: Thursday

Slept well (is unusual for me, first night in strange bed).  Smell of breakfast cooking on the Aga.  Leisurely meal in fine company in the form of my hostess.  Conversation included teaching, reading, the teaching of reading, life in Belgian Congo (hers) and South Africa (mine), poetry, personal favourites (hers and mine), music, Anglo Saxon literature, the Anglican church, Hymns Ancient & Modern V English Hymnal.

10.30 AM: parked in Hay (a snip at £2.50 all day) to gentle rain.  A free day in prospect, looking forward to losing myself in this town of books.  First stop: fringe festival box office, having discovered that Luke Wright was performing that evening.

The Poetry Bookshop: where to start?  2 hours later and already flagging, left with several purchases, including John Gallas’ Flying Carpets Over Filbert Street, Selima Hill’s Trembling Hearts in the Bodies of Dogs, Mimi Khalvati’s Mirrorwork, Stevie Smith’s and Michael Longley’s Selected Poems, English PEN’s A Letter to Some Man.

Richard Booth’s Bookshop: like the way new, used and collectible are displayed alongside each other. More purchases (failing to be circumspect): Sharon Old’s One Secret Thing, Pascale Petit’s The Huntress, Peter Levi’s The Noise Made by Poems.

Richard Booth’s Bookshop

Lengthy sojourn at The Granary, my eating place of choice for the duration.  After antipasti, scone and lots of tea, felt sufficiently restored to venture as far as the next bookshop…

8.30 PM saw me comfy in plush armchair inside The Ring (a yurt) at the fringe festival site,  listening to George Formby’s If You Don’t Want the Goods, Don’t Maul ‘Em, prior to Luke Wright’s show.  Slick delivery, excellent rapport with the audience, lots of laughs.  Poems included Jean Claude Gendarme, The Paunch, Barry versus The Blonde and, in a change of mood, The Ballad of Raoul Moat.  Wright finished with ‘a poem about tits’ – his dream woman – ‘like Supernanny, but northern and drunker’ (his words), Bloody Hell, it’s Barbara.

Earl Grey nightcap at The Granary (open till 10 during the festival), then back to B & B for much-needed night’s sleep.

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