On the basis that Hay is best when you have those wonderful serendipitous moments that surprise you, then do try and go to a live recording of a radio programme, or a TV show.
It’s good fun, professionally run by excellent broadcasters, and as it has a multitude of guests from all around the festival you get a compressed view of what you may have missed and what you might want a little more of later.
I did two this year, both Radio 3 programmes.
On Suzie Klein’s Radio 3 Drivetime programme, recorded live, we had Peter Florence, the founder of Hay; maths guru Marcus du Sautoy, psychologist Oliver James, historian and writer of a new book on 1913 Charles Emmerson and my favourite of them all, Amit Chaudhuri who was talking about his new tome on Calcutta. It’s a two hour show, and like the guests the audience were dipping in and out.
We also bought tickets for the recording of the brilliant The Verb with Barnsley bard Ian McMillan. That too had a ripe old mixture, lots of good things about Hay. A band called Wora, writers Rupert Thomson and Tiffany Murray and a Welsh language poet Menna Elfyn. Would I have bought a ticket to any of these individually? Possibly Thomson, but not a poet in any language, let alone a foreign one. But she was great. A real powerful discourse about her language and of the traditions of RS Thomas. And a lovely mixed reading, bouncing from one to the other.
A word on McMillan: he lined up at the end like a vicar on a Sunday, thanking his parishioners, conversing and cajoling. What a lovely chap. What a national treasure.