Luke Blackall: Hay-makers united by love of books and dislike of rain

Man About Town: You can throw your pint at the stage for AC/DC, but not for AC Grayling

I've often thought how nice it would be to go to the literary festival in Hay-on-Wye, but my June weekends kept getting filled up with other summer parties and music festivals. This year, however, I'm at my first book festival. I wasn't sure how to deal with the rain as it poured down, turning all uncovered areas to marsh.

Of course, you expect rain at a music festival, and the reveller's response to it is usually to go and sit in a music tent and drink cider until you forget the fact that your clothes are wetter inside than out. But at a literary festival you can't do that.

I also realised that you can throw your pint and its plastic cup at the stage for AC/DC, but do that to AC Grayling, and it's a different matter.

Having said that, after watching Professor Grayling outlast the other literary luminaries on the dancefloor at the GQ/Soho House party, he could be more of a rock star than people give him credit for.

Hay attracts both wordsmith superstars (such as Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan) and those commentators who inhabit the arts pages of the papers. You are never sure exactly what they do, but they always have a book to sell.

And it is also an out-of-the-capital meeting point for the Establishment. Indeed, there were rumours that London's mayor Boris Johnson had stood up Alan Yentob, the BBC's creative director, for an early-morning swim. But after reading that Johnson apparently chose to go skinny-dipping, I think it was a lucky escape for the BBC man.

Before I went, I wondered if it might be all Bloomsbury Set parties where stylish, bookish types drew on long cigarette-holders before spending the evening swinging. I spotted a few of these, but the average festival-goer was refreshingly normal.

Apart from the types who rush to ask long questions after talks to show off to the author and audience (is this a form of sexual frustration?), most are just united in their love of literature, and their dislike of the rain.

Before you worry, it wasn't all debates about Joyce and the future of publishing. I was also invited to charge around the countryside in a four-wheel drive at the Land Rover Experience at Eastnor. Research suggests women buy more books than men, and I would hazard a guess men buy more four-wheel-drives than women. Now, if someone could create a festival that combined cars and books (but no reading while driving), they could be on to a winner.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism