Xalapan Haylights

I heard one audience member compare Harvard economist Niall Ferguson to watching a magician, and indeed he did do a lot of conjuring as he took us on a whistle stop tour of the world of finance, The Market, bonds, debt and sub-prime mortgage lending.  But what struck me about him was the uber-confidence with which he made every utterance. He only said ‘um’ once and that was for dramatic effect.  Not a Scottish trait you might suggest, living as the Scots do to a powerful and dominant neighbour.  A bit like Mexico.

So what does it take to empower a country?  Education is the answer, so said the good professor.  And there is plentiful evidence of that kind of empowerment here.  One is simply humbled by the young people helping out at Hay – deeply cultured, multilingual and collectively a portrait of how things can be, given a chance or a break.  Each one an ambassador for his or her innately creative country.

Forget the images of drug cartel related violence.  This is a country that can teach us a lot, not least because they have boundless respect for education, and believe that the opinion of writers matter.  Very different from the UK where as Martin Amis pointed out the writer’s opinion seems to matter less than the man in the street.