Desmond Tutu is supposed to be the headline ‘act’ at this year’s Hay Festival but I’m not convinced that Stephen Fry is not the bigger draw. Tickets were sold out weeks in advance and there was a real sense of anticipation on the site as the hour of his homage to America approached.
Fry did not disappoint. He fulfilled the role of chat show guest to Festival founder Peter Florence’s genial host. The session was richer in anecdote than in structure but no worse for that. With the voice of Billy Wilder, Fry reported that Agatha Christie had been a poor writer of dialogue but in the mind of the great Director “plots like a fucking angel”. We were told of the Kenyan view that ‘Obama’ could have been their first “white” president and heard tales of Alistair Cooke’s charm, generosity and brushes with Hitler and Bertrand Russell.
Stephen Fry is rapidly turning into a national treasure and it is events like this that will help to seal the deal.