This year I attended the Hay Festival for the first time. I only made it to the second weekend, so I can’t really comment on anything that happened before Friday, 31st. May. So here are my highlights:
I attended a marvelous talk by David Crystal, a linguist who talked about his book Spell It Out, The Singular Story of English Spelling. He covered questions such as why is there an ‘h’ in ghost and similar English spelling phenomena. Absolutely fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable to listen to. Who would have thought I can get excited about spelling?
There was also Alexander McCall Smith, the author of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, talking to Paul Blezard. Again, an absolute joy to watch and listen. Mr McCall Smith talks so warmly about his characters and their lives, as a father would about his children. He has a lovely sense of humour and was simply charming. As a result, I went out the next day to buy two of his books, as I hadn’t read any of his work previously.
Another interesting event was Abigail Brundin’s “Only a Pen Can Ease My Pain” – the tragic history of 17th century Italy where 75 % of all higher class women were sent to convents because of changes in dowry laws. Amazing what people throughout history have thought would be good ideas.
Then there was Nick Ross’ talk about Crime. His premise is that a lot of what we’re told about it, and think we know, is wrong. Very interesting concepts and results of research. His book is another on my list to get.
And finally there was Miranda Hart. Her conversation with Claudia Winkelman had been sold out on the day the tickets first came out, but persistence prevailed. I went many times to the ticket counter, asking for returns and finally, an hour before the show was going to start the lady behind the counter took pity on me and I was able to buy 2 returned tickets. Word cannot describe my joy. And we were definitely in for a treat. Ms Hart is such a joy to watch and listen to, whether she does stand up or an interview in this case. She seems very modest and real and she is definitely on the top of my list of people to invite to a dinner party. (You know the one where people ask: “If you could invite anyone dead or alive to a dinner party, who would it be?”.
All in all, a great event and I’ll definitely be back another year.
- Hay Festival 2013: ‘Irritating’ silent letters could become obsolete (telegraph.co.uk)