I've had quite a long day :) I decided in the last couple of days that I'd pop along to the Hay Festival to cheer on Tom Hollander who was one of the actors performing at Letters Live, which is a lovely thing that I missed in London this year (though have managed to go to a one a year or so ago). And also see the Hay Festival for the first time.
My first surprise was how busy the Jubilee Line is at 7 in the morning on a Sunday. More packed than it is on a weekday, surely. I missed the 8 and 8.07 train from Paddington with ease (it didn't help that the Bakerloo line from Baker Street won't be stopping there until August, wish I'd paid more attention to that!) and so I risked the later, but direct, 8.42 train, arriving in Hereford at ~noon. Paddington didn't have that many trains today - normally when I'm there as you walk up the stairs there's a sort of whum-whum-whum of lots of engines all echoing around that beautiful hall, but today it was much quieter.
The train journey to Hereford was lovely, then it was a random shared taxi to the Hay Festival - another 40m journey. Unhelpfully the taxi driver dropped us off at 'How the Light Gets In' festival which is about a 15min walk from the main festival so I arrived just after the event began and found a rare seat. A word to people on pavements - get into single file people. Also you always walk facing the direction of oncoming traffic so if I'm on the outside keeping an eye on the cars don't crowd me off the kerb please. A massive 'thrrrppp' to everyone who got in my way today.
Holy crap Hereford and Hay are pretty though. I spent the entire taxi journey smiling at trees (top faves - ash with their lovely little leaves), hedges, wild flowers, some sheep, meadows, great big hills over there in the distance, fields and general countryside accoutrements (tractors, adverts for potatoes). Then as we approached Hay on Wye - bunting! I love bunting. They had great big white marquees, and oodles of bunting and flags. Perfect.
The Letters Live event was heaving and for some reason I'd been expecting a much quieter and smaller affair. It was a huge venue and of course, being late, I was at the back and couldn't see much so was grateful for the big relay screens. It was all very lovely with a range of letters (funny, poignant, frivolous, devastating) read by different people. Benedict Cumberbatch (unbilled) did four of them!
Apart from lovely Tom, who could probably entertain just by reading the yellow pages ("not much of a plot, but what a cast" *ba-dum-tish*), possibly the audience favourite was Bruce Robinson who managed to misread the word 'flunk' for a word less suitable for the 1pm family-friendly slot. He then got the giggles which made it all the funnier.
Toby Jones (go and watch him in Berberian Sound Studio, he's brilliant) did one of my favourite letters - that from Evelyn Waugh to his wife about a subaltern who made an out-by-10 error in clearing away a tree stump. My mum used to read it to me and we'd fall about laughing at it, so it was lovely to hear it read, and all in different voices. Tom read a couple, including the rather sweet 'Love what you love' from Ray Bradbury.
Anyway, I'll sleep well tonight after all that travelling ;)
Enjoyed @LettersLive at Hay. Bruce Robinson hilarious. Needed much more Tom Hollander though :-) Hay also v pretty. pic.twitter.com/ZKFsGPaIuS— Jo Brodie (@JoBrodie) May 29, 2016