For years I’d been aware of the Hay Festival, and always thought I’d like to go. You know, one day, just to say I’d been. Oh, yes, I went to Hay, once… But I lived too far away, and the distance, the expense, and 2 young children… It just didn’t happen.
Then we moved to South Wales, and Hay is about an hour’s drive away – and I still had youngish children, and a very limited budget – so I still didn’t go. There was that constant nagging feeling that Hay was maybe not for me, that I’m not a Hay type of person. That, I’m somehow not good enough to be there. Hay is a festival for literature, for the academic, the intellectual. Not for me.
Two years ago Cerys Matthews was there – and I had no idea what she was doing, only that I wanted to see whatever it was. So, I got tickets, and went. Just on a whim, on impulse, just because. She was part of a panel reading Dylan Thomas poetry. She read poetry, she talked, she sang, and I surprised myself in how much I enjoyed it. While waiting for the show, I wandered the festival, soaked in the atmosphere, wandered into Hay-on-Wye town and ambled about a bit. I didn’t not fit.
This year I spotted Amy MacDonald was playing. I first came across her when she sang for the returning athletes after the Olympics in 2012, and I’ve liked her music ever since.
So, as 2017 seems to be a year of, sod it, let’s do it, and I had a teenager and friend who wanted to see her too – we went. After a long day in work, we made it to Hay in plenty of time and had a little wander. It was quiet, security was tighter than before, but we were expecting that after Manchester. But the atmosphere was alive with creativity. Amy was brilliant live – a show packed with old favourites and new material, some politics, plenty of laughter, and some joining in.
We had a great time, and both teens wanted to go back for more of a mooch around the books, the stalls. Today we gathered a car full, and we went back.
It was packed, crowded, buzzing with people. There were armed police among the crowds but no-one seemed bothered. We wandered for a couple of hours, and it may sound silly, but I can almost feel the creativity starting to spark again. I’m starting to wonder, what’s next?