@StewartPurvis Sitting behind Sir Brian Leveson watching a Hay Festival panel debating …Leveson@bellaperry On a train back from Hay festival with Jeremy Paxman and a group of kids singing Disney songs. Even weirder when J-pax gets off at Newport!?@GR_Morgan Toumani and Sidiki are the 71st and 72nd generation kora players in their family. Think about that for a moment.
The inimitable Jung Chang shared with us the story of Empress Dowager Cixi the subject of her latest book and the most important woman in Chinese history.
Under her rule China advanced immeasurably, moving from an ancient state of civilisation to becoming a modern nation with most of its attributes: industry, rail, and electricity, mass communication for the first time with the introduction of the telegraph, plus an army and navy with up-to-date weaponry.
Empress Cixi abolished the barbaric punishment of ‘death by a thousand cuts’ and put an end to foot-binding. She advanced the rights of women in China and and embarked on the path to parliamentary elections.
However she was much feared and was responsible on the eve of her death in 1908 for the murder of her own adopted son the Chinese Emperor Guangxu. “The day before Cixi died, when she knew she was going to die, she had the emperor poisoned” said Jung Chang. “This was definitively established in 2008, when the emperor’s body was exhumed and subject to forensic examination.” The body contained 2400 times the normal level of arsenic. She believed that if she had not assassinated Guangxu that China would have fallen to Japan.
In questions Jung Chang talked about the fact that her most famous book Wild Swans is popular in China despite the fact that it is banned because tourists take copies in and it is shared online. Razia also asked about the stunning dress she was wearing and the writer confirmed it was from the period in which Cixi lived. “This thing is from her time and at that time women wore these kinds of clothes. It comes from an Italian lady. She gave me this robe becasuse she loved Wild Swans”.
Back by popular demand we give you our selection of the best tweets from the Hay Festival. Here’s our round up from Saturday.
@kahkc Definitely feel more intelligent after a day of talks at the Hay Festival, especially when faced with drunk rugby folk back in Cardiff!@intlifemag “Did Shakespeare write the works of Shakespeare?” @stephenfry asks himself. “Not just yes, but oh fuck, yes.” http://bit.ly/1m7X3Xh@anitathetweeter Carrie Fisher on Star Wars: “We all look a little melted. I don’t suppose they have a 30-year reunion for Gone With The Wind” #hayfestival@sophiefullerlov The rain has stopped, I have champagne and clean fluffy socks @hayfestival just got even better.@simon_schama eagerly looking forward to appearing @hayfestival tomorrow; the supersmart audiences; my gabfest pals, the welcoming mud, the anointing rain
If you’ve got time this week, amongst the plethora of literary events, try and take an hour one morning to do a tour of Hay Castle, as I did in a very peaceful and sunny Hay on Wye today. Our tour today was led by Mark Baker, the author of Lost Houses in Wales who is doing a PhD in Architectual History at Cardiff University.
He took us around the fascinating grounds and interior of the 400 year old castle and it’s adjacent Jacobean house. Little of the original castle remains, but with Mark’s help we were able to map out where the walls, gardens and staircases once were. It has endured several fires in it’s history, two of them in the twentieth century, and it was recently announced that a £4.5 million heritage fund lottery grant had been secured for the continuing restoration of the building.
Richard Booth has already ploughed £2 million into the place, and so it is fantastic news that the future of the castle is safe in the hands of the castle trust. As Mark pointed out, there are around 3000 historical buildings ‘at risk’ in Wales, so it is very reassuring that there exists a public will to save this very important building in Hay on Wye.
Tours cost £4 – tickets from the Hay Festival box office. They start at 9am and 10am each morning for the rest of the week, meet outside the front of the castle where you will be met by one of the Hay Festival volunteer stewards.
The Macmillan Car Park adjacent to the festival site will be open from 8.30am on Monday 26 May. It’s muddy, so wellies are advised.
Parking in Clyro
The hard standing car park at Baskerville Hall Hotel in Clyro will also open at 8.30am. There will be extra shuttle buses running from Clyro to the festival site via Glasbury, avoiding the congestion in town. Journey time is approximately 15 minutes.
Baskerville Hall Hotel is on the A438 at Clyro, HR3 5LE, 150 yards west of the Texaco garage. The shuttle bus stop is by the main gate by the road.
In case of traffic congestion, please allow an extra hour to reach the festival site in good time for your event(s)
All events will start 15 minutes later an advertised today!
Thanks to Hay Festival website for the above information.