Sunday, 25 May 2008

Hay blog - it's sunny... and rainy. Very rainy

First day - get to Hereford at six and get to Hay via a Neil Diamond-loving taxi driver. The new ablbum's good and we have a "Name That Tune" moment as he runs though his CD sorter seeing if we know our Green Day from our Squeeze.

The Sky studio at Hay is very impressive. Everyone's working hard having recorded the first Hay On Sky programme and now it's gearing up for the pilot of our new cultural quiz show What the Dickens? A full house to see Sandi Toksvig work her comedy magic on the audeince and panel alike. My favourite bit was her story about being asked to interview Benny from ABBA, getting up at the crack of dawn to schlep over to Sweden only to press the buzzer at Chez Benny to hear a voice say "oh, I forgot you were coming". Sandi's reply isn't repeatable here but watch the show. Dan, Alyssa and I then get to slope off to see the cult Touareg rockers Tinariwen - as mixed an audience as you can imagine - 7 to 70 - Sahara-rock obviously more popular than you'd imagine.

The lovely Annalisa then drops us at our accomodation, 5 miles outside of Hay, a lovely farmhouse. City boys that we are Dan and I recieve minor head trauma courtesy of the ceilings/beams.

Saturday - up at the crack of dawn (well 8am) as Dan and Alyssa have tickets for a 9am session. I realise that my first session is 4.30pm but hey (or "Hay"?) time to go exploring. Well, after breakfast. Hay's an amazing place - bookshops everywhere, very laid back and, for one day only, the sun's out! Spend the morning taking photos for Sinead for the website and the blog. Chat with Jon Burgerman who's creating art in the Sky Arts experiential area - hugely popular with festival goers who can grab pens and colour in the work and add their own embelishments. Nice guy, lives in Nottingham so we chat about the place (we both went to Nottingham Trent Uni and he lives near where I used to in Sneinton). A brief trip ito Hay and spot a jazz Xylophone player - only in Hay (or possibly as an accompany to Ron Burgundy).

Off to see Gore Vidal is interviewed by Adam Boulton. Vidal's witty but prickly but very entertaining (a medla to Adam Boulton though for such a great job hosting and keepign things going). Vidal's a star though and this audience obviously are in awe as he gives his views on politics, art, history and, in response to an audience question, the young. "What advice would you give to yong people today?". "Grow up!". Book Show recording goes well - top guests too with Salman Rushdie, Christopher Hitchins and Fey Weldon. Make note to buy Hitchins' book.

Food! Go for dinner at the Black Lion pub. Rory McGrath and a couple of the editors are at the bar. Naomi Kline's looking to get somethign to eat (I think it's her) and we're in the quiet restaurant at the back. Relax. A bottle of wine and great meal later we have a slight hitch. How the hell do we get home? All the cabs in the area are booked for hours and we're five miles away. Oh yeah, we don't have a map either. Throw ourselves at the mercy of Annalisa who's at the other Sky house in Hay itself. Annalisa and Sinead are watching Eurovision. A small price to pay for getting home. A glass of wine, some chocolate, the ice dancing Michael Flatley and an argument over whetehr the sequel to "Pot Luck" is any good later, we're home.


This is more like it - rain. In Biblical proportions. More photos for the web - slight contrast to yesterday. Jimmy Carter's in for a pre-recorded segment for today's show. Trusty camera in hand I wait with a Guardian photographer for Tony the floor manager to give us the nod for 2mins to grab some pics. Off with the wellies and up on stage to grab some shots of Mariella and Jimmy on the sofa. Crap photographer that I am 2 are usuable but that's all we need.

Cross paths with Mr Carter later when Dan, Alyssa and I are walking around to grab some tea and Dan is donning a free festival ponchos. Just as the wind catches it and he inflates like a giant smurf, Jimmy Carter (cluthcing a Pimms?) and his small entourage turn the corner. Spot Jimmy doing a double take as Dan inflates.

Buy my son some books by Julia Donaldson of "Gruffalo" fame - Dan says he saw the Gruffalo walking around earlier (part of an earlier session or Dan's losing it?).

Book Show recording this afternoon - Rory McGrath, A L Kennedy and Nina Conti are the guests. Very funny show with all on good form. Nina Conti and Monk win over the team here with people who saw her performance vowing to see her on tour. Tony the floor manager moves some of us in to the seats vacated by the guests. Get e-mail afterwards from colleague back in London taking in the live feed saying "I can see you on the telly".

Brave the pouring rain to venture back into Hay to buy essesentials - milk, paracetamol and fags ready for tonight's party.

Adrian, slightly damp but unable to spell

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