The Hay Festival
is the Glastonbury of the book world; what the Chelsea Flower Show is to horticulture, the Proms to classical music. In this, its thirtieth anniversary year, it was bigger and bolder than ever. I’ve attended twice with previous books and came last year to participate in an EU referendum debate.
This year I was in Hay the day after my latest memoir, ‘The Long and Winding Road’, was published in paperback.
I was interviewed by Sarfraz Manzoor the Guardian journalist, documentary maker and broadcaster. Sarfraz was my interviewer when I first appeared at Hay in 2014 and we were back in the biggest venue, the Tata Tent, in front of an audience of well over a thousand. The success of these events depends on the skill of the interviewer and Sarfraz is one of the very best; sharp, funny and with the crucial ability to handle a big audience as if it were an intimate gathering.
Forty five minutes of conversation flew by leaving fifteen minutes for audience questions which unsurprisingly were mostly about the general election.
I then spent forty minutes in the booksellers tent signing copies of my book and talking to those wonderful people who were prepared to spend money on the fruits of my labour.
It was a quick visit to Hay. My wife and I drove their from London, arriving at 11am, half an hour before my appearance, and leaving at 2.30pm – so no time to wander round Hay, which I suspect has more book shops per square mile than any where else in the world. I usually indulge my hobby of buying old Penguin paperbacks with those by PG Wodehouse of particular interest. Now that I’ve stepped down from Parliament I should have more time to indulge myself but that doesn’t look like happening for a while.