HAY-DREAMING | NATALIE HAYNES

HAY-DREAMING | NATALIE HAYNES

 

Hay has always had a dream-like quality for me: the way it appears overnight in a field, like a bookish Brigadoon; the need for sunglasses, wellies, and a winter coat all in one day; and the unsettling combination of familiar and exotic.

The last time I was here (as a comedian in those days, not yet an author), I wandered past a man who reminded me of my granddad, only later realising that it was David Attenborough and I had missed my one chance to thank him for Monty Python and the snooker.

And this year was dreamier than ever. This was partly due to jet-lag: I boarded the train to Hay 26 hours after I flew home from Sydney Writers Festival. And arriving on the final Saturday, just in time for the Gala dinner celebrating Hay’s 30th birthday, is clearly the best way to see off sleep. I caught up with Anita Anand and Gabrielle Walker in the Green Room, then spent dinner talking bats and sea eagles with Isaac Florence. I bailed at 11pm, pleading the need for sleep against the undeniable draw of Malian music. I’m still not sure this was the right choice but I am still upright, so I suppose it probably was.

Sunday began with torrential rain (winter coat wins again, though I really should learn that walking isn’t always the best way to get somewhere) and ended in a blaze of sunshine. I talked Epicurus with Liz Hyder, then Oedipus and free will with Daniel Hahn. I’m writing this on the train back to reality, only my still-damp socks convincing me that any of it happened at all. I’ll dream you again next year.