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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home