Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Tour Part 1: Shieldwall and the Hay-on-Wye Festival

Arrived in London, and drove down to Hay with Charlie Viney, and his son, Tom, and had a great time: seeing England again, and talking all the way from London to the Welsh border.

When we were almost there, we passed through Ewyas Harold, which has one of the few pre-Conquest Motte and Bailie castles in England: built by Ralph the Timid during Edward the Confessor's reign, to protect against the Welsh.

Stayed here: The Swan Inn, and expected it to be full of writers and intellectuals, but was strangely quiet.

Walked along the river, which must have been the border between the Welsh and English, and found a post-Conquest Motte and Baile castle in the field across the road, and after dinner in the long summer twilight, conducted a little tour for the London literary types.

A fine castle:

Talking to a whiskey soaked audience, courtesy of Highland Park.

And then my big talk - going head to head against a double act of The Archbishop of Canterbury and Simon Russel-Beale - and delighted to have a fine turn out. First talk on Shieldwall went very well: and a quick signing, before heading back to London via Hereforth: where the Welsh burnt the cathedral down in 1056, after a vigorous resistance in which 7 canons were killed.

Remembered how Bishops of Hereford seem to have been the military type, with responsibility for leading the local resistance. Like Bishop Leofgar, once chaplain to Harold Godwinson, who died in battle in 1056.

Thoughts on Hay:
I was very impressed with Hay, not having been there before, and hearing that it was more corporate than literary. Peter Florence was delightful, the audience diverse and interested, and what impressed me most of all was the number of school kids. I've never seen so many at a festival, and thought this was an excellent feature.

As an author: the volunteers were excellent and helpful; the carrot cake and coffee generously distributed, and the tech support as smooth as it gets.

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