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Hay 3 to 5

June 1, 2010

What a lot we’ve packed into the last 3 days, a sensory overload of culture!  My favourite event so far, was Jeanette Winterson. For a hermit she can really talk! She smiled and laughed and inspired us all during an hour-long chat (for it wasn’t a talk at all, it felt as intimate as having a chat with her). She reminded us all how man was born to be creative, after all, he took time out from hunting and keeping warm to draw on cave walls pictures of himself and his family. This creativity seems to gradually escape us as we grow older, if we let it. The Arts are important, they should not become so elitist that they are beyond the reach of most of us. We are all faced with decisions in life. Say “No” and we remain safe. Say “Yes” and there is chaos. But with chaos comes excitement and an opportunity to reach our true potential. This was a timely reminder for me as I reach a crossroads in my own life, I know I am making the right decision to pursue my own creativity. She spoke about her mother and her deep religious beliefs, which saw books banned from her house – imagine that!

Another surprise was Andrea Levy, author of Small Island and her new novel, The Long Song. She read extracts from the latter, in a beautiful Jamaican accent, comic timed to perfection. Although born in England, Andrea visited the Caribbean in order to research her book, a slave narrative of the early nineteenth century. Don’t be fooled though, the angle she approaches it from is a refreshing surprise. I can’t wait to read it. Later on, we saw Jo Brand, being interviewed by Peter Florence. She toyed with him gently, as he enquired into her autobiography. Funny, dry, sarcastic, yet warm, Jo explained how she made the transition from psychiatric nurse to a “ball breaker feminist comedienne” – although visually she puts herself at the softer end of the feminist spectrum.  Pete was stewarding outside, and had a quick chat with her – very friendly and approachable, somewhat different to her stage persona!!

Jane & I then rushed off to see our favourite poet, Simon Armitage. he was interviewed by someone called Sarah – she was not introduced. Was this a bit of arrogance on the part of the Guardian organisers perhaps, were we expected to know who she was? Sadly, Simon is at his best when talking to the audience and reading his poems. This seemed a little stilted, he seemed almost insulted by some of the questioning, especially when Sarah admitted to finding his poems very funny. Clearly, this was not his intention – Certainly, he has superb comic timing when he delivers those lines, but this is balanced by the poignancy and sadness of their underlying message and truths.  I agreed with his comment that poets are sadly lacking at Hay. In the four years we’ve been going, this year is the most barren. Listen up Mr Florence!

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