Party Of The Week: Making Hay while the sun shines

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The Independent Culture

There was a party atmosphere as well as a party at the Hay-on-Wye Festival of Literature and the Arts over the bank holiday weekend. Record temperatures brought a record crowd – more than 20,000 in one day – to hear speakers ranging from the great historian Eric Hobsbawm to a great piece of cultural history, Jane Birkin.

The tradition at Hay of presenting each speaker with a rose at the end of their talk was seized upon by Stephen Fry, who stuck the rose in his mouth, Carmen-style. The annual party's Oxfam Emerging Writer of the Year award for most promising young novelist was given to Fflur Dafydd for Twenty Thousand Saints. The party was preceded by a reception held outside and was attended by luminaries well beyond literature, including the Chapman Brothers, Stephen Daldry and Joan Bakewell. Much of the chat centred on the Oxford Professor of Poetry scandal, which proved prescient as less than 48 hours later Ruth Padel chose the festival as the venue to confirm her resignation from the post.