Last year Hay sponsors the Guardian had a House of Hay…literally a house, made of hay, at Hay. Genious. Actually it was very good, it doubled as a base for journalists and as a host venue to intimate chats with said same. Last year I sheltered from the rain and had a very fine organised natter with Emily Bell.
This year there is a Yurt instead and it troubles me for a variety of reasons:
- It’s not really a Yurt it’s a bell tent with scatter cushions.*
- There are no events – seemingly no possibility of engagement with the august organ.
- It is ambiguous, the inviting carpets and cushions suggest relaxation but can anyone go in or is it just for Guardianistas?
- Even Sarfraz Manzoor appears to prefer Ascaris.
- C’est un peu pretentious, non?
* Wikipedia – A yurt is a portable, felt-covered, wood lattice-framed dwelling structure used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia.
Consultant psychologist interviews infamous politico turned psychotherapist; perhaps this should have prepared us for what was one of the most uncomfortable sessions I have attended.
Psychologist Benna Waites, with a combination of natural poise and the wit of her craft was rapier like. She began with the recent e-mail scandal that cost both Draper and Number 10 spinmeister Damien McBride their roles in the Labour media machine. Draper volunteered that he hadn’t “worked through” or processed his recent experiences and his discomfort was palpable throughout. His discomfort turned to annoyance when Benna questioned his qualification to practise by hinting he was no more qualified than the late Bernard Manning who had duped the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy into admitting him as a member with a particular interest in race and gender. Draper reacted saying “actually you are out of date” and defended his qualifications. A piqued Waites brought the interview to a close after little more that 25 minutes of awkwardness.
The questions from the audience were no less penetrating. Draper was challenged on his decision to continue as a psychotherapist when he left his Labour Party role. Journalist Sarfraz Manzoor interogated Draper’s faith who bizarrely responded that he had toyed with eastern religions before turning to Christianity, partly because it was easier. He drew some sympathy when he explained that the recent shenanigans coming at the time of publication had in his eyes “spoilt the book”, he lost it when he described his detractors in an earlier scandal as “cunts”. What was already an unusual session entered the realms of the bizarre when at the end Waites addressed Derek briefly as “Damien'”. Hay may surprise but it seldom disappoints. Oh and the book is called ‘Life Support’.