A week or so ago I got the chance to go with a group of friends to Hay on Wye for the Hay Festival and wow it was amazing! And so much bigger and more impressive then I had expected! I had an amazing day! And went to some really really interesting talks.
First up we had Ian Goldin talking about is the planet full. I will admit that before the talk I tended to say yes it is and I don’t know how we’re going to cope, but he made some very interesting points suggesting otherwise and that we just need to be smarter about how we distribute resources and space. He also pointed out; which really stuck with me, that if we say the planet is full, we are pretty much saying that all the people still to be born shouldn’t be and that in a way they don’t deserve to be, and really that’s pretty awful!…I’ll be looking to see if the book is in the library to have a read.
His talk was at the main festival and I’m told the Q&A was very good but I had to run out to make my way to my next talk which was on the other side of the very very pretty town in the Philosophy festival; How the light gets in festival. Fortunately this was my only quick dash, and I’d left enough time between other talks, but for this one I just about made it to “The New Inquisition” by Frank Furedi. I wasn’t so taken with this talk, he drew a lot of comparisons betweem the inquisition of olden days, and today and there was definitely some valid points in his argument. I 100% agree that if someone says a thought/conversation makes them uncomfortable, so what, but I felt a little like he had no real point to make, and was bordering a little on being an anarchist, which isn’t my cup of tea.
After his talk I had a break and time to grab a bag of chips and see some of the very very pretty town, I wandered into some amazing galleries, and was blown away by the uber realistic porcelain conkers and this very cool hare with attitude! And wow the stained glass!
The it was back to How the light gets in, for a serious talk on the Snowdon affair by David Omand, a former director of GCHQ. I still don’t know how I feel about this talk. He wasn’t a very good speaker, he was sat in an arm chair in a not tiered room, I was listening to a voice not watching a person at all, but he was one of those people that can make anything seem reasonable. In general my feeling about the whole Snowdon situation, is good on him for whistle blowing, but I wasn’t really shocked I expected stuff like that was happening already. David Omand mostly pointed out that in the UK what was done was legal, he didn’t say much about the US, and gave reasons why he thought it was right, and that the words necessity and proportional were in the legislation so it’s only necessary and proportional the snooping that’s being done. And he spoke about the judge that recently investigated and said it was all ok. Everything he said was logical and reasonable, but so much of it is dependant on no one over stepping bounds or having an agenda, and maybe I’m just a cynic, but I don’t have that sort of faith in people!
From there I headed back to the main festival for an economy talk, this was the only talk of the day I went to alone and I was very happy when someone sat beside me asked if I was an economics student. Yay I still look young enough to be a student! The lecture was titled ” What threatens capitalism now” and given by Craig Cahoun, and he was a great speaker! It was a fantastic lecture, it went over time and the Q & A was very good too. He went through what capitalism is actually meant to be, and that he believes we are using a version of it, but not following all the parts, for example politics should be completely separate from the economy. And he summed it up that capitalism is the best way we know of to make growth happen, but that there are costs associated with it and that often these are not paid for by the same people that stand to make the profits, ie corporation makes the money, government/population deal with the bad air/water quality and damage to roads etc. This even more made me mad at those huge corporations that are using every loop hole they can to get out of paying taxes. I don’t care if these things are often legal, they are still wrong!
For the rest of the evening I had booked slightly less serious talks; I had a feeling my brain would be a little fried by then, and I was right! So on to a chat with Carrie Fisher, who was hilariuos! I knew practically nothing about the woman and wow she sounds to have has a life! She was just lovely and silly and funny and I was raging when I couldn’t find any of her books in the shop!
Then dinner and the best way to end a night, a comedy gig! We went to see Robin Ince and he was brilliant! I did that thing where you laugh so much you almost cry and your insides hurt so so much. He was fantastic, really really funny and I think I shall be looking up to see when he’s in the area again to bring the boy since he missed the whole day!
There was so much happening there it was a but intimidating and I really wish I could have gone for the rest of the week, I did go for a wander around and spotted amongst other things a Before I die wall, which I’ve always wanted to put up somewhere, and a giant chess set. I think I’m up for going again next year 🙂
2 thoughts on “Hay Festival”
I am a PhD researcher at Monash University, Australia, doing a project on audience experience at literature festivals and events. I am looking for people who attended this years’ Hay Festival and might be interested in answering a few questions via email about their expectations and their experience at the Festival.
I enjoyed reading your blog post, and I was wondering if you would be able to answer a few questions for my project? These comprise 12 short answer questions, asking about your background with reading and writing, your expectations and experiences at the festival, and your opinion about literature festivals more generally.
If you’re happy to do this, that would be amazing. If you email me at maweb5 [at] student [dot] monash [dot] edu I can send you the questions – and answer any questions about the project that you might have!
I’d be happy to help 🙂