Wednesday, 6 June 2018


Hay Festival.
I love it.
People don’t only read and talk about books, they inhale them.

Each year as I infiltrate the lively enchanted throng, my imagination takes flight and I am transported to castles on the green hills beyond. Brightly coloured fluttering flags form a welcome to the heroine in an amazing dress, shimmering in the light. She is bright and bold and knows no fear. Valiantly, she dispels evil from the land, the sun shines and…

Well, you get the picture. This flight of fancy isn’t very original and will never make the cut, but most of my musings don’t, they simply evaporate into the mists of time.

When I return to certain places, the surroundings can trigger old imaginings and Hay Festival is no different. I expect to conjure up something bright and lively with colour and happiness.

Each year as I arrive, I look down the tunnel of canvas into the vibrant world of books, their readers and writers. Fluttering flags, bright colours, and the hum of expectation and excitement consume me. My heart beats faster and I am transported to that place where only Hay Festival can take me.

This year was different. For a start, I went on my own. I’d never done that before. Seeing policemen with submachine guns is always a shock, but they’d been around last year too and I am thankful that precautions are taken to protect us.

I was arriving at a time when the children had mostly been taken home. Their parents and other adults who were coming to the 7 o’clocks hadn’t yet arrived. As my bag was searched and I looked down the tunnel of canvas, I was greeted with… well… nothing really. No buzz, only faded colours and, above all, few people.

Hay Festival was deserted.

In its defence, I must tell you there had just been a rainstorm and people had fled in their droves, leaving a festival I’d never experienced before. It was like walking through a ghost town. Few people had braved the conditions. The Festival I knew and loved had been washed away.

As I waited in the queue, I was in a dark place. Hushed tones of bedraggled people transformed in my world to folks full of fear and deception. Someone coughed. Eyes darted towards him apprehensively. A brolly dropped. We dived for cover. Dark shadows seeped from the tent behind us. Men in black uniforms with heavy guns huddled us together. In fear, we shuffled into the marquee, anxious faces, fearful eyes, trembling hands.

A woman shouted ‘Back off’, holding her hand towards us and we cringed into our seats as...

…everyone burst out laughing. Ruth Jones had just slipped into the character of Nessa from Gavin and Stacey. We applauded.

My imagination runs away with me some times.


Anne Booth said...

I'd love to go to Hay and I'd love to see Ruth Jones! I'm glad the drama was 'only' in your imagination and I hope you had a good time in spite of the rain.

Val said...

I did, thanks, Anne.