Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hay Fever

The Hay Festival celebrates its twenty first anniversary this year, a cause for some celebration.
Envisaged as a get together for the folks who write books and those that read them, it has been an admirable venue for all those that value literature and the arts.
This year has been no exception with the appearance of many literary lions to talk about and read excerpts from their works. This is what the fair was all about, I thought.
So why, oh why, did the organisers feel it was necessary to inject ‘personalities’ into the mix?
The former president Jimmy Carter for instance. An admirable man in many ways but his presence seems to have been solely to put the boot in to poor old George Bush and have little to do with literature or the arts.
Then there was Jamie Oliver, a cook, I understand but one whose literary abilities I had not recognised. And I suspect that my mum cooked just as well.
Next the obnoxious blowhard, Jeremy Clarkson, whose proud boast of having exceeded the speed limit by a substantial margin on a public road should surely result in his having his collar felt by the local fuzz.
Arthur Scargill made a cameo appearance but what artistic value he brought to the event escapes me – and a good many others.
No doubt Cherie Blair mounted the podium to explain just how hard it was to make ends meet with four mortgages now that her husband was no longer being subsidised by the British taxpayer.
And last but not least, the walrus moustachioed John Bolton was wheeled out for reasons best known to the organisers. Here the high spot must have been the attempted citizen’s arrest by the Guardian newspaper’s resident loony, George Monbiot. Not that I disagree with his motives but assassination might have been more dramatic and effective.
For all the above personalities, none of whom have any real connection with literature or the arts, there is a corner of Hyde Park reserved for them. A literary festival is not the place for them to mount their personal soapboxes.
And it seems there is now something of a backlash from those who feel that the festival has lost its way.
No longer held in the town of Hay on Wye but at a spot well outside the town, it is being challenged by those who wish to return to the original format.
The ‘Real Hay Festival’ deserves the support of all those who are interested in literature – and not in the opinions of paid for celebrity guests.


Post a Comment

<< Home