Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Leaving Hay while the sun shines

And finally today the sun came out. Hay is glorious in the sunshine, and the countryside is beautiful under a big blue bowl of sky with fat fluffy white clouds.

My last couple of days involved fewer talks and more Sally. Yesterday I saw Orlando Figes talking about the Crimean war, including his take on how Russia's view of a 'near-abroad' coloured and still colours its self image and foreign policy.

Then off to the countryside to see Sally, Mr Sally and the small humans and animals. And back to Hay for Barry Cryer and Colin Sell - astoundingly old fashioned in format but done with bags of style and really funny. I particularly enjoyed a very up-to-the-minute version of 'Birds do it, bees do it...'.

And this morning Jim al Khalili blew my mind talking about Arabic Science. I studied the European C17 scientific revolution at Uni and knew we had learnt a huge amount from Arabic scholars who took up the baton when Europe went into the Dark Ages. The talk got my brain buzzing - fascinating content and delivered with humour, insight, perspective. This - with Adam Nicholson on King James Bible - is my Hay highlight.

My last Hay session was Roy Foster talking about Yeats and his inheritances. In essence, Yeats was one of a number of people to collect, anthologise and publish semi-forgotten and overlooked Irish stories and writers. He then went on to explicitly align himself with their work at the same time as creating new forms and new approaches himself. Made me long to reread my 6th form Yeats and to think again about writers of the time -including Le Fanu - with the benefit of wider context about ideas of vampires, evil fairies, and heaven and he'll being part of our world.

I've had a fantastic time in Hay, only wish I'd been able to see more because there are soooo many events I'd have liked to attend. I'm looking forward to getting home to a hot shower and comfy bed, to tidying up my blogging and seeing what other people saw, thought etc. And I'm really looking forward to next year...

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