Posts Tagged ‘hay-on-wye’

Remember that they can see you

Yesterday I had a bit of a shock.

A week or so ago I wrote a post about the Hay festival in which I discussed the talks we went to see. Imagine my suprise when one of the givers of those talks replied to my post! Argh! I’d forgotten that this is connected to the magical ‘Internet’ and that anyone can read it. Including the people I’m writing about.

It was like Mr. Beale was watching me through the computer screen. I’m sure there’s some literary essay just waiting in the wings on this circle of realisation. I actually felt embarrassed. I don’t know why, I just was. The thought that people can actually find and read what I write on here was just a bit of a shock.

Let it be a warning to all – the internet is huge, and anyone with access to a computer (with a connection) can see you. Especially people on a hunt for reviews of their public speaking.

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Hay-on-Wye is the Promised Land to book lovers. My knees are still trembling with unabashed lust. It’s nestled in Powys, Wales and according to the town website has approximately 30 official bookshops. The majority of these are second-hand and the browsing opportunities are endless.

It’s a cute town made up of quaint cottages and Georgian houses. To be honest it’s so small I would have called it a village. There are a series of small interweaving streets packed, crammed with bookshops. I showed AMAZING restraint by only going into one. One! That’s practically a miracle in itself. Even more astounding is that I only bought ONE book and two prints. I’m sure the Gods swooned to see it. I limited myself to the Castle Bookshop (oh yes, located inside the castle). It was fabulous. My favourite part was the wall of cubby holes filled with sketches and prints cut out of old books. I bought two, both of gothic landscapes, which I shall frame and hang somewhere in my mythical flat.


For 11 years now Hay-on-Wye has been hosting the Hay Literary Festival where authors, poets, comedians, musicians and generally artsy interesting people gather. The Independent describes it as ‘…a smorgasbord of heterogeneity, a mixumgatherum of creativity and gravitas…an excellent festival’. I have to agree.

C and I drove for about 2 and a half hours (I am not the world’s best DSC02311navigator, regularly getting us lost and then sinking into gloom crying ‘We’re doomed, we’re going to be eaten by dragons/lost forever/die) through Wales to get there. Note: if you need to cross the Severn Bridge into Wales you have to pay a toll (£5.40 for a car. Interestingly it’s free to leave Wales) and they don’t take cards. We’d bought tickets to see four shows. In order I shall discuss them below.

2.30pm :

John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale – Questions of Truth. 51 Responses to Questions about God, Science and Belief.

Polkinghorne was described by Beale as ‘very prudently not connected to the internet’ and this probably accurately demonstrates the differences between the two talkers. I found Polkinghorne the more interesting although he didn’t go deeply enough into his ideas. His arguments were weak due to his liberalism. His wish not to offend meant that his arguments didn’t really go anywhere. He talked of similarities between the quest for truth in science and religion.

Beale kept annoyingly drawing conclusions based mainly on what he wanted them to be. He tried to prove that determinism was false but his proof was inconclusive to my mind. His reasoning basically went along the lines of ‘the brain can’t be deterministic unless the whole universe is, which is impossible’. Is it impossible? Actually impossible? I don’t think so. Not just because you say it is Mr. Beale. His proof of this was to use a computer program showing balls bouncing off each other. Change the velocity of one and they all end up after 5 seconds in different places. Apparently this proves chaos. But are the two (chaos and determinism) mutually exclusive? I’m pretty sure the same experiment can be used to also prove determinism.

They both spoke well though and the Guardian Stage was full.

(Note inserted at a later date: Mr. Beale has kindly commented that he was discussing neuro-determinism specifically, NOT determinism as a whole. I may have misrepresented his ideas due to misunderstanding. However I am leaving the above as a representation of my impression from the lecture)



Adam WorkowskiJohn Paul II’s Philosophy of Love and Lust

For such a promisingly exciting title this event was a little disappointing. Workowski wasn’t confident enough about his English ability to talk without notes. Well, actually they weren’t notes. He basically just read out an essay. It was interesting but the delivery ruined it really.



John Micklethwait – God is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith Will Change the World

Very very interesting. Mickletwait discussed with Sarfraz Manzoor how his study shows global religion is having a revival. He made an interesting comparison between the UK and America saying that different religions are more successful in America because if the separation of church and state. This creates a free-market for religion and they battle it out with each other to win souls. Whereas in the UK they have the problem that if they criticize the COE it can seem they are also criticizing the government. It gave me lots to think about.



Anthony Horowitz talks to Paul Blezard on screenwriting

This was my favourite! Horowitz is so enthusiastic he was a joy to listen to. It’s like he sits at home building up great energy by writing stories which he then exploded all over the audience. It was juicy and I loved it.

He’s a fabulous storyteller. He told us wonderful anecdotes. He genuinely seems to love what he does and that was so refreshing and lovely to see. At one point he stressed he never considered himself an artist, all he wants to do is entertain. Which is lucky for us because he’s very good at it. As well as writing the Alex Rider books he’s also written Foyles War, Poirot, Midsommer Murders, Robin of Sherwood and many many other things. I’m in awe of him.

(the photo is blurry but I think it gives a good impression of the interview. Horowitz expressively used his hands the whole time and Blezard, as well as everyone else spent most of it laughing)

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