Make Hay not war! …A tribute to Hay, Ray and Sir Terry!

I’ll admit that my expectations of the Hay Festival were high…and I was NOT disappointed!

Returning home last night, at nearly 11pm, utterly exhausted and elated with a boot full of books, I found myself in a blissful state of delirium. What an experience! Not just the festival itself, with its Tibetan-like rainbow flags (perhaps fluttering in homage to the God of Books), its eco credentials and bohemian artsy feel, but the whole town and how each compliments the other. The entire vibe of the place…this little idyll, this heaven for book lovers nestled amongst the most breathtaking landscapes. Just bliss!

In a time of grim realities, economic meltdown, political confusion, conflict and war, to be immersed in such a haven is nothing short of magical. There are so few places where the written word is so celebrated. The minute my writer friend and I stepped foot in the town, you could almost feel a palpable tingle in the air. Everyone was there for the same reason…an unbridled love of books.

The rain, thankfully not as heavy as predicted, couldn’t dampen our spirits. So with twitching debit cards we started our foray into Hay’s wonderfully eclectic bookshops.

My advice for any visiting Hay-On-Wye? Bring a backpack…you can squeeze more books into it and leave your hands free to hold more!

Heading from one bookshop to another, via a cappuccino and slice of coffee cake, my growing rucksack and I quickly learned the ‘squeeze-squeeze-side shuffle’ needed in tight spaces and stacked shelves.

Amongst my prized buys of the day – a beautiful first edition 1866 green leather-bound collection of Lord Tennyson poems with gold-edged hand cut pages, gold ‘Arts & Crafts’ embossing on the front and back AND…(discovered only this morning as I took delight in placing all my books on the correct bookcases)…gorgeous illustrations by Hunt, Millais & Gabriel Dante Rossetti, the founders and geniuses of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement!

Wow! I can’t believe I’ve found such a treat for the senses for a mere £6.50! What a find…now you don’t get that from a kindle!

My other highlight? Well, after some serious trawling round Hay, we headed back to the festival and its billowing tents for the main event, an hour-long talk from Sir Terry Pratchett! What a thrill! We jostled our way into the Barclays Pavillion and settled down to watch and listen to a master of the fantasy genre. A real privilege.

Terry spoke candidly about his work and life. Poignant but always humourous and sharply witted, the hour regrettably flew past, despite the continuous munching of the man mountain sitting in front of me and the irritating fidgeting of the teeny girls next to me whose constant moving kept rocking my chair and making me sea-sick!

Of course, during the course of day, the news also broke of the sad passing of another great author, the astonishing Ray Bradbury, whose seminal novels including Fahrenheit 451, have been incredibly influential and inspiring to readers and writers alike. Terry Pratchett himself commented on the sad event, saying what a wonderful writer and what a lovely person he was.

Together with the loss of Anne McCaffrey earlier in the year, it has been a time of literary loss, particularly in the fantasy and science fiction genres, but the legacy such writers and their astonishing body of work leaves behind, ensures their immortality in the pantheon of great writers and artists.

After the fabulous talk, we inevitably took the shuttle back into town for some more book grazing. Hay, rather splendidly, leaves many of the bookshops open into the evening.

We wandered over to the castle, a beautiful ruin of a place, and poured over yet more shelves of delights before reluctantly having to say goodbye to a truly wondrous little place.

May the sun never set on you Hay. I shall definitely be returning for a longer stay!

I raise a glass to the glory of Hay, Ray and Sir Terry…marvels all!

See you next year! 😀

****

Tragically, Sir Terry Pratchett lost his long struggle against Alzheimer’s on the 12th March 2015, he will be greatly missed by all. I for one, shall think of him when I visit the Hay Festival again this year. A literary giant in his own life time, one of our brightest lights has been extinguished, may he shine on in the heavens and give Death a run for his money! xxx

😦

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8 thoughts on “Make Hay not war! …A tribute to Hay, Ray and Sir Terry!

  1. Sophie, the imagery here is wonderful, it feels as though I was there with you 🙂

    You’ve made me very jealous, and determined to get there as soon as I can, when I hope to see Darkling Chronicles (amongst others we know) on the shelves too!

  2. Oh thank you, Rose! That’s very VERY kind of you honey.

    Well, in my vision of the future, there’s a group of us AWBer’s strolling through Hay on a sunny afternoon, after having had successful talks and signings at the festival! My book will NOT be alone methinks! 😀 xx

  3. What a beautiful post Sophie, well done 🙂 I’m definitely going to put this in my diary for next year! The amount of times I’ve driven past Hay and never stopped to look around! I feel ashamed of myself.
    I love your AWB vision too!

  4. Thank you, Lindsey! But honey, don’t feel guilty, Cheltenham is only half an hour from where I live and do I go to the Festival every year? Nope!

    Wouldn’t that be great? I’ll tell you what, we should definitely arrange to go next year, you, me, Will & as many others as we can. Besides…you’ll need to go anyway to promote Vortex during your whirlwind tour of the country!! 😀 xx

  5. kimatsafkhet says:

    Ah! Delightful post, as always, Sophie and thank you for taking us publishers along with you virtually 🙂 we appreciate it. If only being a publisher was having time to float from one festival to the next, that’d make it even more of a dream job than it already is because we get to work with you and your author friends 🙂

    • Thank you, Kim. Well, you know it’s a dream job for me too :D.

      The only problem about Hay and other festivals, is having to stop buying every book you see! So many wonderful novels…poor Will had to hold me back at one point! 😀

  6. Reblogged this on Sophie E Tallis and commented:

    This post I wrote two years ago, is particularly poignant today, given the tragic news that Sir Terry Pratchett has lost his long fight with Alzheimer’s. He was a colossus of the fantasy genre and one of our brightest literary lights. He will be sadly missed by those who knew him and the millions of fans worldwide that wish they did. RIP Terry, you’re one in a billion! 😦 xxxx

  7. […] P.S. For other Hay Festival experiences, including the amazing Sir Terry Pratchett event, see previous posts: https://sophieetallis.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/make-hay-not-war-a-tribute-to-hay-ray-and-sir-terry/ […]

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