It’s seems that this year more than ever people are tweeting from and about the Hay Festival. For me this is a fabulous thing, not least because this year I’m not there. There has been tweeting from Hay for several years but the volume and number of people tweeting seems to have increased significantly.
Social media and the Hay Festival may not be most comfortable of bedfellows. There’s the location to start with. Phone signals are poor and the site is “several mountains away from the nearest fibre-optic cabling” so the wifi has never been particularly reliable. It’s fairly difficult to use social channels if you can’t connect in the first place. Robin Lustig the journalist and radio broadcaster described the Hay Festival this week as a “digital black hole”.
The Festival has a very traditional flavour, maybe even more so since the Telegraph became the headline sponsor. There are those that think tweeting from an event is a little ‘infra dig’. I’ve experienced several looks askance from fellow audience members in the past when I’ve been tweeting from events. Tweeting and texting look pretty much the same and one Hay-goer posted this week if “Simon Schama keeps texting during other writers interviews gonna chuck a well-aimed Malteser at him”.
There is no doubt that social media can create enormous buzz around an event and publishers and authors have been embracing its potential. Some also enjoy the freedom of being “off-line”. So which is it to be?
It’s an important question. The wifi was only free this year through the intervention of a benefactor (for the first time it was being charged out at £5 a day at the start of the Festival).
I’d be interested in your thoughts – should the wifi at Hay be as vital and free as the fresh country air or should the Festival be liberated from digital distractions. Your comments please.
Rupert Everett is one of our most feted actors but he’s a great essaying too having been compared to Evelyn Waugh, Noel Coward and even Lord Byron. His new memoir ‘Vanished Years’ is brim full of vividly described escapades with friends, family and A list celebrities. On paper Everett is hilarious, self deprecating, captivating, comic and reflective. He is all those things in person too.
The audience is packed and expectant, we spot Jeremy Irons, who will later be reading from T.S Elliot’s Four Quartets, in the crowd. Everett takes the stage, glass of wine in hand. His writing is candid, so much so her tells us that he fell out with Madonna over a previous book, though he adds he still adores her. He is also a big fan of Oscar Wilde about whom he speaks intensely and of his importance to the gay cause.
Everett is generous with his advice to young aspiring actors “if you want to get a head, get a life first” and don’t be afraid of failing; “failure is the manure” that’s keeps you going and brings success in the end. At the end of the hour the applause is resounding and a longs queue springs up at the festival bookshop to buy the new memoir .