If you are looking for a tweed jacket or trilby hat, go to Hay Festival. It’s not that there are very many tweed-and-trilby shops, but almost everyone there is wearing them. So you’ll get lots of ideas, and can go home and make a Pinterest board.
There are other reasons to love Hay Festival than trilbies, and I’ve written about them in enthusiastic detail here and here. Short version: books and talks and old stuff. This didn’t feel like our year for Hay: we are on absolute spending lockdown till all our house-moving bills are paid, I was full – nose-drippingly, smoker’s-coughingly full – of cold, and as I’m away in the States next week we’ve already used up all our babysitting favours for a lifetime. Still. It’s a tradition, and we love it with a passion: when a Jeffcoat is tired of Hay, s/he is tired of life, etc. We already had tickets for Steven Fry and Tony Fadell. We went.
(On the subject of colds, may we all, as a human race, take an unbroken vow of silence about the fact that I looked up to find Teddy eating one of my nose-soaked tissues today. Eating. I am shuddering as I type. HE MUST NEVER KNOW (until he’s old enough to read this blog. In which case, sorry Teds; and heck yes to your immune system).)
In sad contrast to last year’s enamelled blue sky, a raincloud descended somewhere around Bristol and didn’t lift all day. So no sunning ourselves in the quad over newspapers this time. But that left plenty of time for wandering round the little stands, taking photos and breaking our sugar fast with a hot chocolate so sweet we were buzzing for hours afterwards. I also ate an almond croissant, filled with almond-flavoured custard, that was seriously as large as my face. I might as well stop eating now, because nothing will ever be as good again. We sat in the food court making little whimpering sounds of joy, opposite two Germans making serious work of a ploughman’s lunch. They sat down with plates of salad and chutney, and I thought ‘this lunch seems a little slight’, and then they took out an enormous venison Scotch egg from a paper bag. Our eyes met across the table, and I hope I managed to communicate my respect for you is as the vastness of the universe, good madams with a look. Because, a venison Scotch egg as big as an adult fist? That is the business.
We love Stephen Fry, although we did think that when you’re interviewing someone, they’re probably supposed to speak more than you. Tony Fadell invented the iPod, Stephen. Let him finish a sentence.
‘I had a question for him that was much better than any of those’, lamented Timothy, as we filed out at the end of the Q&A session. It was, too. Isn’t that always the way. Perhaps he can write a fan letter.
We didn’t have time to go into Hay itself this year, alas – though touring twenty book and antique shops with an empty purse would probably have been more painful than otherwise – but we got the Hay 2014 bag and utilised the photo booth, so left feeling like it was a job very well done. And our car reversed first time out of the soggy field we’d parked in.
Even a rained-out Hay day comes up trumps.