Review: William Boot Interviews Tina Brown

Discussing The Daily BeastThere are certain experiences that are exclusive to Hay. Settling down to watch Tina Brown, the legendary journalist and editor, Harold Evans (who also happens to be Mr Tina Brown) sat down in front of me, their son grabbed the seat next to me with his sister in front. James Naughtie then strolled past and shook Harry’s hand before re-emerging on stage in the role of William Boot.

Watching one of the world’s greatest live interviewers in full flow is pleasure enough but when the interviewee is someone with the experience, intelligence and foresight of Tina Brown then it is an hour to be cherished. Nothing disappointed.  The  journalist, author of The Diana Chronicles, and former editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair and  The New Yorker was there in the main to talk about ‘The Daily Beast’ her online news and opinion site.  As a digital immigrant, as her husband’s nemesis Rupert Murdoch might have put it, she is fluent in the language.  Though on the subject of  News International she cast doubt over the current pay wall experiment because of the fact that newspapers have for so long allowed their content to be consumed for free.  “The horse has bolted”.

Brown is a genuine champion of online.  The web she says gives writers the direct feedback that print never offered “there is nothing worse for writers than cranking it out and getting no response”.  She is also an Apple fan girl or mores specifically an iPad advocate “it’s really seductive and magical.  It’s a Harry Potter device”.  Brown also made the case for the iPad changing the way that news is consumed and produced; resurrecting elements of the art “the iPad will be terrific for narrative journalism.”

The iPad is on order and ‘The Daily Beast” will be added to my favourites.

Record Crowds Flock to Hay

The crowds descended upon the Hay Festival site in what will be the busiest Bank Holiday weekend in the twenty three year history of the festival.  Two and a half thousand more people attended on Saturday than on any previous day and the sunshine brought even more people on Sunday.

Making Hay Whilst the Sun Shines

The Hay Festival site is truly wonderful when bathed in sunshine.  After several heavy downpours yesterday the clouds opened this morning and the heavens smiled.  The forecast for the rest of the week is one of steady improvement.  We’ll keep the weather reports posted on this blog  (top right) but fingers are crossed that we will be blessed by sunshine and clemency.

Quote of the Day – Christopher Hitchens

This morning, during the Sky News broadcast of Sunday Live, Christopher Hitchens made what must be quote of the day. It was uttered in response to the assertion made by a member of the audience that the Taliban might have welcolmed the invasion and handed over Bin Laden if they had known a restructure of Afghanistan was on offer.

“The suggestion… has some way to go before it could be considered naiive” opined the great ‘Hitch’.

Review: Jerry Hall and Alain de Botton

This had to be one of the most unlikely pairings on offer at Hay this year.  It was  clear from the outset however that Hall was an aficionado of de Botton’s oeuvre and she challenged him on the nature of the philosophy he espouses.  He readily confessed that populist insight and interpretation rather than academic philosophy was the furrow that he chooses to plough, a furrow he followed unswervingly for the next 45 minutes.

There is no doubt that de Botton is a vastly intelligent man who thinks very deeply but he wants us to know that, something he underscored by discussing his intellectual disappointment with Cambridge University.  Apart from a series of scripted questions Hall left the stage to de Botton who treated us to a a stream of self conscious sound bites.  For example he is clearly aware that you catch people’s attention if you mention pornography which he did twice, first in relation to self help books, which are regarded as a lower form, and then to social media which is apparently a bit like pornography  (a similarity which as a blogger and tweeter has so far passed me by).  He told us that his parents were very intelligent people who were psychologically disturbed, happiness is a state which washes over us and  lasts about ten minutes and that he uses Paxman on Newsnight as a way of getting off to sleep.

Alain de Botton is a master at holding the attention of an audience but this session was broad rather than deep, a little like the Chinese banquet with a profusion of dishes that still leaves you at the end, feeling a just a little bit hungry.

Record Attendances at Hay

According to staff at the box office today (Saturday 29th May) has been the busiest day ever in the 23 year history of the Hay Festival. It’s not hard to believe as the site set in fields a short walk from the town is heaving.

A couple of heavy downpours have meant that the tents housing cafes, bars and dining venues are packed out. The de rigour festival wellies are also out in force. Happily the forecast for tomorrow is dry and sunny, which begs the question; will the crowds tomorrow be even greater?

Twitter Directory for the 2010 Festival

It may not have turned out to be the social media election but it may be the year when social media enters the mainstream at the Hay Festival. We were blogging and tweeting last year but there are simply more doing the same in 2010 and we are not alone. ‘Mostly Reading YA‘ will be there, blogging and tweeting, Cambridge at Hay has a blog, and the twittersphere is alive with comments about the events. That’s why we have created a directory of speakers who are on twitter. We need your help though – speakers especially. Message @Making_Hay, and we’ll add you to the list.

Ten Top Tips for the Hay Festival

1. Bring  your wellies.

It doesn’t rain every year and it ain’t Glastonbury but if you do get a downpour, the walkways around the site can get wet (and a bit soapy!)  The sections in between get muddy quickly, no good for your gladiator sandals or cuban heels.

2. Locate the box office

Get there early to avoid the queues and ask about returns for sold out tickets.  They quite often have them.

3.  Don’t dither on booking

One of the classic Hay experiences is to deliberate too long about a particular event and then when you have decided to go you find it has sold out.  As they always say book early to avoid disappointment.  

4.  Cover your options clothing wise

This is the time of year when it can feel like winter or summer and that’s exacerbated because you’ll be outside or close to the elements for a lot of the time.  The weather can turn on a six pence in May and June so take a bigger bag and pack for every outcome.

5.  Park and ride

Park in one of the car parks in or on the outskirts of the town.  You avoid traffic close to the site and there are shuttle buses that take you to the site.  On foot its a nice stroll and only takes about 10 minutes.

6.  Make time for the town

Hay-on-Wye is world-famous for its secondhand and antiquarian bookshops. There are about thirty major bookshops in the town.  There are also several cafes, other interesting shops and some great ice cream.

7. Reset your body clock 

At least with regard to meal times and if you want to eat on site.  Avoid eating at lunch time as it is incredibly busy especially at the weekends.  It’s a little pricey too so make it a mid-week treat if you can.

8.  Eavesdrop

Listen to what people are saying in the bars an on the walk ways.  You can find out which events are ‘hot’ and get hints and ideas about who to see.

9.  Keep your eyes peeled.

One of the real beauties about the Hay Festival is that the writers, artists, politicians et al wander round the site.  You might just see Jerry Hall gliding past Ed Miliband.

10. Buy a Book at Pembertons

Whether you are into signed copies or not buy something from the on site bookshop, find a deck chair and read it on site.  There is nothing quite like looking up from text to see the author striding past.    

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to Appear at Hay Festival

My guarantee to deliver fairness

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is the latest addition to an exciting programme at this year’s Hay Festival. The Liberal Democrat leader is a last-minute booking and he will appear on the last day of the festival, Sunday 6 June, discussing the new coalition government, the rule of law and constitutional reform with Philippe Sands.

Clegg is by no means the only politician appearing in the small Wesh town.  The former President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf (2001–2008) will discuss conflict and volatility in the region with Carey Schofield and Labour leadership candidate Ed   will be appearing on both the opening Saturday and Sunday of the festival.  Alastair Campbell will be there too.

Nick Clegg’s appearance will be his first public interview since taking office.