Thursday, 29 May 2008

Wellies? Ready. Sunnies? Ready. Waterproof gear?... Doh!

Last year on my first visit to Hay, I managed to avoid all the rain. I remember hearing the horror stories of it raining constantly, it being so cold that they had to buy jumpers and socks and that it was just wet, wet, wet (I don't know they played here last year?! - Ed). I came down on the last weekend of the festival and would you believe it - the sun was out! I didn't understand what the team were going on about. I brought clothes for all types of weather as advised.

This year though, I could tell that it wasn't going to be great. The drive down from London was grey and grim (unlike last year when the sun was blazing down). Then when we arrived, it was cloudy and grey (but no rain - a plus point indeed). When we arrived, I parked the car in a pool of mud. So, wellies were definitely needed. After announcing our arrival at Hay, we went into town to get Carla some wellies and we could well and truly then start our Hay 21 experience.

First up, the most important thing was to get some lunch down us. I'd been driving since 7.45am (this was Tuesday) and so was very hungry and worn out from the drive. After lunch, it was time to attend the Hay-On-Sky filming. Guests were Nick Broomfield, Jo Wood and Jasper Fforde. I'd been watching the show at home and enjoying it so far so it's always exciting to see it being filmed live.

After the filming I went to my first event. It was about the fact that every single one of us has multiple and competing selves. This is different from multiple personality disorder. Rita Carter, the author, talked about how we all have many selves that we bring out dependant on who we are with. Apparently, women have more multiple selves than men because of something that connects the two lobes of our brains together (it's bigger apparently!). It was very interesting and made me think that that is quite true. Tracy at home is different from Tracy at work and Tracy with family is different from Tracy with friends. I won't go into the science of it (mainly cos I can't remember it) but let me tell you that it was very enjoyable.

On the way back I bumped into the Dom Joly team recording one of the pieces for the show. I just heard drumming and thought, what's going on here? I missed most of it but you can see what I managed to catch below.

In the evening, I had a dilemma. I wanted to attend the What The Dickens? recording as I'd been hearing through the week how funny it was and how it was going very well. But Jeremy Clarkson was also on at the same time. I'm not a huge fan of cars (I go by colour: that green car over there, that small blue car, that ugly one over there etc.) but I love watching Top Gear. I just think that they are a fab trio of presenters who just bounce off each other. It's funny and the reports they do are just crazy. So I compromised. I went to the first half of Jeremy Clarkson and then left in time for the recording of What The Dickens? Jeremy Clarkson was very good. He was very funny. He talked about how by driving a 500cc car, he's actually saving his children from sniffing glue. As he's able to drive home faster, he'll be there to tuck in his children and therefore they would grow up to be better people. So driving a fast car is a good thing. He also got the full support from the audience to take on the role of Prime Minister. He poo-pooed this idea by saying that he's so inconsistent he'd be changing the policies all the time! He also talked about how he first started out in journalism. Was it because he's always wanted to write about cars? No, he found out that he could get to drive a different car each week.

I enjoyed this session so much, I had to tear myself away. This meant that I got to the Sky Arts tent too late and wasn't able to get a seat in the studio. But not to fear, I sat in the Sky Arts production office and watched it there and played along and didn't get quite as much as I did in the online quiz (11 out of 12 for those who ask) but enjoyed it nonetheless.

After the quiz, we went out for a drink in town and ended up talking into the late hours. My first day at Hay was full and tiring.... and there was no rain!

Oh, but then day 2 arrived and I woke up to rain, rain and more rain. Hmm, maybe I should have got some waterproofs. Everyone was asking me why I didn't come prepared. Well, the optimist in me was thinking that it would all be OK like last year. Well..... hmmm.... I was then asked why I didn't bring any waterproofs. I have a car and that's my waterproof. I don't get wet. Also, I don't go outside when it rains. Problem solved. Except that on this day, I had organised to follow the Dom Joly team around, led by the lovely Marina. It was pouring down and it didn't look like it was going to let up at all.

I attended the Marcus Brigstocke 'The Early Edition' session where he goes through the daily papers with some guests. It was good fun although he clearly doesn't like Jeremy Clarkson. Some of the stories covered in the paper? A ship called HMS Lusty (though mind you, that was the nickname, they couldn't find out what the official name was), how to cook squirrels (with 2 recipes), and some others that I can't think of at the moment.

After this event, it stopped raining (hurrah!) and I walked into town to browse the shops and meet the production team outside Pemberton's Book Store. I then met the team of Marina (producer), Colin (soundman), Paul (cameraman and driver) and Dom Joly (talent). I'd never been on a location shoot before (unless you count my attempts at making my own films when I was at uni) and it was really interesting. I learned more about sound and cameras and was there at first hand to see how Dom is able to come up with things on the spot. It was great. They filmed the piece where Dom is looking for his own book. I met Dave Gorman too but after he did his bit, he went off.

Then it started again.... the rain...... and it was getting worse and worse. As I said before, I don't go out in the rain normally but when you're at Hay, you have to. I got completely soaked at one stage where Dom goes to see a fortune teller and I was standing at the side watching. That piece was the longest that they'd shot in one go. The rain was dripping from my hat and at this point I thought, hmmm, maybe I should invest in waterproofs. I thought it was hilarious though and how funny we must've looked and so got a quick video of it. I was then sent inside as I was probably looking pretty miserable. But it was really interesting to follow the crew around and to see how they work together. Dom is a very funny man and the crew seemed to have got used to the torrential rain by now. Shooting on location is very challenging though and I admire them for having been doing this day in day out since Hay started (especially as there was thunder and lightning at one point).

After drying up (but only a little mind), I sat in the audience this time for What The Dickens? And to my surprise, found none other than Kathleen Turner sitting a seat away from me. At one point, she turned to me and said, I don't know where my friends have gone. How surreal is that? But only at Hay.... The set for the show is brilliant and I have no idea how they will be able to cut everything into a half hour programme. Sandi Toksvig is a brilliant quiz host. I can't wait to see the other shows.

In the evening, it was Jools Holland. I'd been looking forward to this ever since I got the Hay brochure. Again, dilemma: it was the What The Dickens? wrap party and Jools at the same time. But as I'd wanted to see Jools, I thought I'd go to the party afterwards. Jools Holland was on top form and had his band there and some guest singers, one of them being Marc Almond. At first people were all seated but by the end of it almost everyone was standing up dancing away. I'm so glad I didn't miss it. He played the piano (of course) and also the guitar (I didn't realise he played other instruments). It was good fun and went on longer than the earlier show he played.

After Jools, we went to the wrap party to find that it had already finished :( Apparently there were balloons, party food and drinks, oh and Kathleen Turner turned up too. How glam is that? I did manage to get some of the party food before heading off back home where we played Who's In The Bag? before heading off to bed.

I'm a bit sad that today is my last day. The sun has come out finally! I had one more session to go to which was The World Without Us where we had to imagine what the world would be like if humans were to disappear tomorrow. Nature would take over completely and a lot of the structures that humans have erected would come down. Alan Weisman also pointed out that a decade ago there were 1.1 billion people in the world, then 6.5 billion (I could be slightly wrong here so please don't quote me on it) and now there are 9 billion people on this planet. He suggested that if we (as in the whole world) were to adopt the 1 child policy of China, the population would go down again to 1.1 billion. That's an interesting thought. Alan is not saying that we should but just poses the question. He's not saying that he wants to get rid of humans but that we need to find a better way of making humans and nature live together. I was very interested in learning more and went to get his book in the book shop here where he was also signing but it was sold out!

And that was my time at Hay. I've had a wonderful time here and can't wait to come back next year (where I will be more prepared).

Tracy, Waterproofless Person

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