Tuesday, 27 June 2017

New Cabinet

One of the last things that Paul Harris left outside for anyone to take away was a glass fronted cabinet, which I thought would look very nice in my front room.
Then I tried to lift it.
Fortunately, my neighbour The Welsh Girl was outside the front of her house potting geraniums to put up the steps to her shop over St John's Place. She sells ponchos made of Welsh tweed. She did have lavender, but in the heat wave it went all crispy.
She helped me into the house with the cabinet - and it does, indeed, look very nice in my front room.
I saw Paul this evening - the house is empty, everything is packed, and he's off to Spain early tomorrow morning.

Monday, 26 June 2017

The Doomed Bench

I was standing at the counter at the Cinema Bookshop when I heard the bang. It wasn't particularly loud, but when I looked up, I saw a car up on the pavement across the road, and another car stopped in the road. The drivers were getting out to talk to each other and inspect the damage.
Later, it became clear that the car on the pavement had driven right into the new bench next to the BT cabinets, and demolished it.
The new bench had only just been put in a week or so ago - to replace the one that BT took away and then put back, much lower than the original. There had been a length of concrete under each leg, which made the seat up to a reasonable height, and those pieces never made it back. There was a lot of correspondence between the Town Council and BT on the subject.
And finally, there was the new bench, with the brass plaque commemorating Arnold Wesker.... and now it's gone again.
Gareth Ratcliffe is looking for a replacement - I hope it lasts a bit longer than this one!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Valerie Singleton - National Treasure!

I had thought that I wouldn't be able to go to Llyswen to see Valerie Singleton, but then a friend said she wanted to go and offered me a lift.
We arrived a bit early, and popped into the Bridge End for a swift half. I don't think I've ever been in there before, though I've been past plenty of times. There was Butty Bach on the hand pump, and a pretty extensive menu chalked on the wall, and a few locals playing darts at the back.
The village hall is just a few yards along the main road (we moved the car from the pub car park), and they have a plaque on the wall saying that the hall got a grant from the EU for improvements.
She was in the area to stay with a friend, who was up on stage interviewing her - his name was James something, and he'd gone to Finland with her some years ago for some filming work, where he crashed a snow mobile into a snow drift. She also called out to a lady in the audience who runs the B&B where she's stayed on previous visits to the area.
I've met quite a few famous people over the years, and sold books to some of them - thanks to the Hay Festival, mostly - but this was something different. I grew up watching Blue Peter twice a week, like millions of other children, and I found myself in awe to be sitting only a few yards away from Valerie, who certainly doesn't look as if she's just celebrated her 80th birthday. She was very eloquent, and had some amusing stories to tell about her life. One of her first friends, for instance, at the convent school where they practiced archery along a long corridor, was the daughter of Odette, the World War Two spy, and another friend was the daughter of Mary Norton, who wrote the Borrowers. Then she went to RADA, along with several very famous people, including Albert Finney, who she rather fancied at the time.
Video clips interspersed through the evening included some of the adverts she was in before Blue Peter, including one where she's spring cleaning a house with Flash. She was taken on by the BBC as a continuity announcer, which stopped the advertising work, and then auditioned for Blue Peter, which at the time was a fifteen minute slot once a week, mostly about model trains. After a while, she was told she had to choose between Blue Peter and continuity announcing, and thought Blue Peter sounded more interesting. She had no idea what a phenomenon it was going to be - and then came Biddy Baxter, and they went twice weekly, and started the Blue Peter Appeals, and so on.
Another video clip was the famous one showing her walking a young lion and taking him into a corner shop.
Then she was chosen to go to Kenya with Princess Ann, to film around a school for street boys. Over the years she's done a lot of travelling and travel writing, starting with the Blue Peter Special Assignments. She talked about going to Hong Kong when the first fleet of Vietnamese boat people arrived in the harbour - and how she was given a script, but ended up describing the scene in her own words, only referring to the script occasionally. She said she never had any training as a journalist, but she was proud of that piece of work, and got quite a bit of praise for it when she got back to London.
When she left Blue Peter, she moved to Nationwide, and other news programmes like Tonight (another video clip showed her interviewing Bryan Ferry and David Bowie). She also worked on PM and The Money Programme, on radio.
The most recent video clip showed her as a guest (coming out of a time capsule) on the Graham Norton show, where she made something very rude with a serviette! She said she'd been shown how to do it on a cruise she'd been on, and it seemed just the thing for Graham Norton!
She's still doing a bit of TV work - she's been filming for one of those antique programmes, where you're given £300 and have to go out and buy something with an expert, and try to make more money when it goes to auction.
The last thing she did, though, was to attend John Noakes' funeral. She said that, over the years, they'd lost touch (partly because he lived in Majorca), though Peter Purves remained good friends with him, and gave a speech at the funeral which told her a lot about him that she'd never known, like what a good actor he had been.
To finish the evening Rev Charlesworth stood up to thank Valerie for such an entertaining evening - she said that she'd been described as an "icon", which she didn't really like, though someone had once described her as being like a listed building, which she liked better - and Rev Charlesworth said that she ought to be a National Treasure!
At the end of the evening, my friend brought out her Blue Peter Book of Teddy's Clothes, which she'd had since she was eight, and got Valerie to sign it for her, and we ended up having a nice chat about what the shops in Hay were like (and I spoke to Valerie Singleton, and managed to stay coherent, even though I felt that I'd regressed to being eight years old!)
It really was a fantastic evening, and the light supper they put on in the interval was really nice, with all sorts of tasty nibbles included in the ticket price. We were slightly surprised that there weren't more people there, but I don't think it was terribly well advertised. Some of us, certainly, were of exactly the right age to be complete fan-worshippers!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

The University of Cusop Dingle Talks About Self-Publishing

Self-published authors were invited to bring along their books to show. I have self-published several Young Adult Fantasies online, on a site called Smashwords, so there aren't any physical copies. I did think of taking my laptop along to show, but decided against it in the end. I haven't used it yet outside the house, and I'd rather practice getting onto a wifi system quietly first, rather than in front of a crowd of people! (I'm sure it's very easy - it's just that I haven't done it yet).
The first part of the evening was King Richard holding court, and talking about writing pamphlets exposing political corruption and the evils of the Welsh Tourist Board. Here's a sample from the flyer he passed round:

"Brexiting BREXIT the King of Hay knew that only in his 400 pamphlets could the truth be told, and that the University of Cusop Dingle, headed by an Oxford Don, could show how a 'Renaissance of the Book and Reformation of the Tourist Industry' was possible with a 1000 book-towns worldwide.
"Hay and Hay Festival clearly showed that the pseudo-democracy of enormous wealth, and the debasement of information for commercial self-interest, was the beginning of a fascist state and totally unsuitable for the 21st century where Global Warming made continents more important than countries."

Among the pamphlets he intends to write is "12 CORRUPT MAYORS OF HAY", starting in the 1960s with a Mr Like, and Dorothy Birch (who I think must have been the mother of Nigel Birch, long time Hay councillor who died fairly recently). Also proposed are: HOW A COMMUNITY ECONOMY CAN CREATE A MILLION JOBS, MUSIC IS THE GREATEST INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE, and SQUEAL, which will be about local corruption.

He finishes, in the flyer, by saying: "For a semi-senile 78 year old, writing pamphlets is the perfect occupation... he can change his mind, repeat himself, adapt to new information, and perhaps above all offer his opponents limitless space to refute his arguments...!"

Richard's sister was also there, in the 1812 Bar of the Swan (didn't it used to be called the Cygnet Bar?), and she is putting on art exhibitions in London, including one of art by Sidney Nolan.

And then it was time for the self-published authors to talk about their work. Chris the Bookbinder was there, with a paperback copy of The Green Book of Olwen Ellis (he used to read out passages from the book at open mic nights at Kilvert's, and later, the Globe - I don't know if he still does that). He also edits the occasional poetry magazine Quirk, copies of which are available from his shop.
Another chap (his name escapes me, I'm afraid) is a teacher in Hereford, but lives in Hay. He has written a utopian SF novel called Sweden, which begins in the distinctly dystopian period of Thatcher's Britain. He said that he'd seen the sort of books his teenage daughter was reading - things like The Hunger Games and other dystopias, and felt that there should be more fiction depicting a hopeful view of the future that we can aim towards. He went into it aware that a utopia for one person might be a dystopia for another, and that fictional utopias are often quite narrow views of possible futures, but hopes he has got round that in his version.
There was some discussion about the difficulties of promoting self-published work, and finding outlets which will sell self-published books, and how promoting self-publishing would fit with the second hand book economy of Hay, which was interesting, but it was difficult to come to any conclusions.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Something Missing at Kilverts

"What do you mean, there's no Bacardi?"
I was sitting outside Kilverts, still warm even as twilight fell (and the swifts were screaming overhead), and one of my friends had just discovered that the bar doesn't stock her favourite drink. I don't know what she ended up drinking (another friend went for vodka with Fentimans rose lemonade, so they do sell some spirits). As I always go for the real ale (Gold Beacons that evening) I hadn't noticed the lack of choice in spirits.
They don't sell Guinness either - Brian was sitting rather unhappily with a glass of Chocy-wocky, which is a bit of an acquired taste, and not much like Guinness at all. I ended up drinking that, and getting him some of the Gold Beacons (which is also not much like Guinness at all, being a pale beer).
What the Hay Tap does, it does very well - local ingredients for the food, local beers and ciders - but they do specialise. Where other pubs might want to offer the broadest range of drinks possible, Hay Tap at Kilverts have decided on their core range, and don't stray far beyond that.
So there's no Bacardi, and no Guinness - but the beer and cider they do stock are excellent (I have yet to try one of the pies there, but if they're anything like the ones at Brecon Tap, the first pub the brewery started, they will be delicious!).

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Last Post

I came to the cenotaph just as the Last Post began, and Gareth Ratcliffe dipped the British Legion banner. The British Legion have been commemorating Hay soldiers who died in the Great War, on the anniversaries of their deaths 100 years ago - I missed the name of the soldier being commemorated tonight.
The moment was somewhat spoiled by a grey car coming down Castle Street, which ran over a racing pigeon which was walking across the road. It died, of course, and not instantly. Rob Golesworthy cleared the body away when the ceremony was over.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Valerie Singleton

The Blue Peter legend is coming to Llyswen Village Hall to talk about her life (and she did much more than Blue Peter, of course) on 23rd June, at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £12 to include a light supper, and there will be video clips of moments throughout her career. She's now 80, and she was one of the three presenters back when I started watching Blue Peter in the 1960s, along with John Noakes and Peter Purves. Actually, I just about remember her with Christopher Trace, the first main presenter. I also remember her voice on Radio 4 as a presenter.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Costumes for Hay Theatre Group

Sue from Hay Theatre noticed my post where I mentioned I had some medieval costumes for sale, and yesterday she came round to have a look at them. They haven't got anything planned in the near future set in the Middle Ages, but she took about half of what I had on the grounds that it would be useful in due course.
It was quite fun getting them all out and talking about the costumes - how silk dresses were made out of rectangles, so as not to waste any of the precious fabric (I made a linen copy of a 13th century silk dress), and were medieval clothes really that brightly coloured? The linen dress is a bright Turkey red, a genuine medieval colour made with all sorts of disgusting ingredients like sheep poo and lamb's blood! (Mine uses modern dye!).
And then there's the blue velvet surcoat, which I made before I discovered that, in the 13th century, velvet hadn't been invented yet - but I kept for occasions when I didn't need to be completely authentic.
And then there's the All Purpose Peasant Dress - which I've used for every period from the Iron Age to the 15th century!
It's nice to see the costumes going to a good home, where they'll get good use out of them.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Seen in a Hay Window

It's not easy to see, but if the picture is enlarged, there's a Famous Politician looking out (in cardboard effigy!).

Friday, 16 June 2017

Technical Problems - and Shelving Solutions

I've been having a bit of trouble with my broadband connection over the last few days, but Tim Pugh came round this morning - and I think he's fixed it (touch wood!).
It seems to be my week for problems with electrickery (to quote Catweazle). My hoover stopped working as well - the engine was working, but nothing was getting sucked in. I'd done pretty well with it - I was given it when someone at work was upgrading to a Dyson, and it's lasted quite a long time. Fortunately, I am a woman of means now, and I was able to go down to the electrical shop by the Drill Hall and pick up a brand new hoover (or Bosch, in this case) straight away. I shall be playing with that this afternoon.
It's time for a good clean round, anyway, as I also picked up a set of shelves from Paul Harris this morning. As he's clearing out Oxford House, where he had his bookshop until just after the Festival, he's been piling shelves and other bits and pieces outside for anyone to take. Broad Street Books has had a nice pair of chairs and a stool for the shop, and several people up and down the road have had shelf units. Mark Westwood came a couple of days ago to take a lot of the books that Paul isn't taking with him - he's off to Spain at the end of the month, and there's a lot to sort out in the next couple of weeks.
So this morning I happened to pass just as a shelf unit had been put out - not too big, so I could carry it home, and I've been re-arranging the bedroom to fit it in. It should also give me a bit of extra space for more books!


When I was looking at events that were coming up soon, I didn't know that there would be another Mallyfest in the near future.
Then yesterday I saw the banner go up at the end of Castle Street, and today I saw the first posters.
This summer's Mallyfest will be at Baskerville Hall on 1st July, with lots of live music. Tickets are £10, with teenagers £5 and children free.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Up-coming Events

I've been gathering together a few flyers of events that look interesting.
Last week at the acoustic session at the Baskie, Valeryan brought in a poster for an event she's appearing at - A Night of Acoustic Music presented by the Friends of the Crown, Dilwyn. The Crown is owned by the parish council, who bought it when it was threatened with closure a few years ago. It's now run as a tenanted free house, with real ale, and it was built as a coaching inn in the seventeenth century. It's also very much a community pub, in the heart of the village.
Performing there on Thursday 22nd June will be Autistry (Gracie and Gelan Swift), Dan Nichol (folk and American traditional music), Mice in a Matchbox (Sally Stamford and Jim Rolt, recently back from sailing round the Caribbean) and Valeryan (former lead singer with the Settlers). Mice in a Matchbox and Valeryan regularly come to the Baskerville acoustic sessions, so if the two performers I don't know are up to those standards, it's going to be a good night.

Then on Saturday 24th June there's the Stoked Summer Feast at Lower House Farm, Longtown. It's billed as a celebration of farming, food and fire, with wood fired cookery, cocktails, and local ale and cider bar as well as the feast - and they have overnight camping with breakfast available.

I probably won't be able to get to either of those, but I will be able to get to Hereford on 1st July for the annual Hereford History Day on Castle Green. This year Historia Normannis will be there, so lots of medieval stuff going on (what a pity I've grown out of my medieval costumes!)

Some years, Hereford History Day is on the same weekend as Beer on the Wye, but this year Beer on the Wye is on the weekend of the 8th July - so I won't be turning up at the bar in any sort of odd costume this year!
I just hope the weather is good.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Uprooted by Nina Lyon

Last year I went to an evening organised at Addyman's bookshop, where half a dozen local authors read from their works. Oliver Balch read from Under the Tump, another chap read from his book about a huge refugee camp in Africa - and I picked up a book called Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man, by Nina Lyon.
I've had an interest in the Green Man for a long time, and Herefordshire is particularly rich in images, mostly in medieval churches, so I was interested in seeing what Nina Lyon had to say.
Nina Lyon chronicles her interest in the Green Man, even toying with the idea of creating a new cult around the mythological figure - only to find that he is already being celebrated in all sorts of ways already. She goes to the Clun Green Man festival, meets a shaman to talk about trees, decorates a wild corner of her garden in an attempt to make it into a sacred grove. She goes to Germany, where medieval images of Green Men are as common as they are in the UK - but the modern pagan revival of interest in them just doesn't seem to have happened. She goes in search of the Green Chapel from the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and meets the Bedlam Wild Hunt Morris men in a pub.
She also talks quite a bit about philosophy - it turns out that she has been involved in the running of the How the Light Gets In festival at the Globe in Hay. In fact, the owner of the Globe, who she refers to only as H, is the father of her children. Throughout the book, she only ever refers to the people she meets by initials - but I recognised some of the local ones, such as G, who lives in a gypsy caravan and has made a Green Man maze at Penpont - he used to run Hay on Fire, a wonderfully anarchic Hallowe'en celebration when I first came to Hay.
So I learned a bit more about the Green Man, and had the enjoyment of recognising local places and people in the search for him, so it was well worth the cover price!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Jumble Sales and Ladies who Lunch

I had quite a bit of stuff that I had intended to sell outside the house, over the Festival. Rain stopped play for that, so I loaded up the Islaymobile - and filled it to the top. This is the shopping trolley I used to wheel my dog around in, when she got too old and arthritic to walk far. It still comes in useful now and again.
I was heading up the road to the church to leave the jumble when I saw Em and Roz coming down. They were off to have lunch at the Old Electric Shop. So I trundled up to the church, unloaded my jumble, dropped the trolley off at home, and joined them for coffee.
After a bit, they started thinking about dessert. "Shall we stay here, or shall we move on?" they mused - eventually opting for scones at Booths Café.
It was a wise choice. The scones at Booths are superb, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, with a choice of three different jams and cream. We ate them with a pot of Earl Grey tea - a lovely way to spend lunchtime for a change.

And today it was the jumble sale, in the Parish Hall, in aid of St Michael's Hospice and doing improvements to the church. It was a real old-fashioned jumble sale, with clothes piled high on tables for customers to rummage through, and toys, bric a brac, books, and (of course) refreshments in the corner. And a raffle, at the door! Hardly anything was priced, and most things seemed to be 50p when you asked.
I got a lid for my wok, a cardigan, a denim shirt and a picture of the harbour at Mousehole, Cornwall which is now hanging in my bathroom.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Living in Interesting Times

So, I woke up this morning to find that Chris Davies, the Conservative candidate, had retained Brecon and Radnor, with James Gibson-Watt, the Lib Dem, in second place. From the figures, it looks as if the UKIP vote in the area pretty much transferred entirely to the Conservatives. Across the country, the UKIP vote collapsed almost entirely, but it wasn't as simple as UKIP voters transferring to the Conservatives in other areas.
Over the border in Herefordshire, both Conservative MPs have kept their seats, which was pretty much the expected result.
Elsewhere in the country, Nick Clegg and Alex Salmond both lost their seats - and Nick Clegg was replaced by Jared O'Mara, a new MP who has been campaigning for disability rights in Sheffield. Another disability campaigner was elected in Battersea, Marsha de Cordova, who is visually impaired. Both the new MPs are Labour.
Also elected last night were two Sikh MPs, Preet Kaur Gill and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, also both Labour.
So now we just have to wait and see if a working government can be formed from the new intake of MPs....

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Polling Day

Don't forget to vote tomorrow!
The bowling club will be open from 7am to 10pm.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Codlins and Cream visits Hay

The lovely Codlinsandcream2 blog has pictures of a walk round Hay, on 25th and 30th May. I mention this because she takes far better photos than I can!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Last Day of the Festival

It seems to have come round really fast this year! As I walked down through town after closing up at the Cinema, I saw the people on the food stalls in the Castle Gardens packing up. The lovely people at Bain & Murrin had organised a little party for the shop keepers and traders around town, and the sun was shining so we could all spread out across the street with our glasses of bubbly (or beer/lager/fruit juice). It was a lovely end to the Festival, and I only came away because I needed to have my tea!
Down at the Festival site, of course, things are still going on, ending this evening with Bill Bailey.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Artisans at Hay

Today the Artisans in Hay are in the Buttermarket, including one lady who has an impressive array of animal skulls, painted with flowers and butterflies. There's also a monumental blacksmith, a regular to the Festival, with giant metal flowers, jewellery, wooden apples and pears, pottery, and a chap who was sculpting a chicken out of clay. He had several finished sculptures behind him, of chickens doing amusing things (one, entitled "Chick Flick", was holding an old camera), and hares - "Mincing my Words" had the hare turning the handle of an old fashioned mincing machine, with pages of old books being fed into it.
Up by the old HSBC bank there was a man playing a didgeridoo.
And it's Paul Harris's last day opening Oxford House bookshop today - he's going to spend the next three weeks frantically packing before he moves to Spain. I saw him dashing down the street with an arm full of packing materials to pack his pictures.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Festival Friday - Waterways of China and more

So today I've been acting like a Festival-goer, and thoroughly enjoying myself. The weather hasn't been brilliant, unlike yesterday, but I managed to dodge the showers - though I did make the mistake of heading into the Festival Bar for a swift half while I waited for the rain to stop, which ended up being Doombar at an eye-wateringly high price!
I was booked in to see Philip Ball talk about the waterways of China, and how the control of the two great rivers that run across China, the Yellow River and the Yangtse River, have influenced the rise and fall of dynasties right up to the present day. First, I wandered round the stalls again, bought a few postcards, and sat in one of the yellow deckchairs dotted about the grass to drink my frappe.
The talk had been moved from the Wales Stage to the Good Energy stage, so I sat in just about the same seat (in a packed tent) as I had for the Astronomer Royal's talk. I wanted to see what Philip Ball would say about the Grand Canal, which stretches something like 1,000 miles from the south of China to Beijing in the north. I first found out about the existence of the canal when I was writing a Steampunk fantasy story, and needed to get my Victorian lady adventurers from Shanghai to Peking - the Grand Canal was the perfect mode of transport for them. I had no idea that the building of the canal had caused enough unrest to unseat a dynasty - though the following dynasty was perfectly happy to take advantage of the canal for itself. Later European observers talk about vast fleets of ships using the canal to bring tribute to the Emperor.
I also had vague memories of Chairman Mao swimming in the Yangtse River back in the 1960s - I had no idea then just how politically motivated that swim was (and he did it several times), to show that he had control of the rivers and therefore of the country. Although no-one in the Communist State now believed in Heaven, Philip Ball said, the idea of the Mandate of Heaven by which leaders ruled was firmly entrenched in the national psyche - and the immense floods that could happen along the great rivers were a sign that Heaven was not on the side of the present ruler, and often led to protest and unrest. And the floods really were immense - one in the 19th century killed 170,000 people when a dam burst.
The history, shading into myth, of water management in China goes back to before 2000BC, to a hero/emperor called Yu, who was the first to successfully manage the water flow with engineering works. After that, there were two schools of thought about flood management - the Daoist engineers thought that the water should find its own equilibrium and the Confucian engineers thought that the waters should be forced to go where humans wanted it to go. One of the irrigation canals dug early in China's history was so well-designed that it is still being used now.
He also talked about the Three Gorges Dam, which has been surrounded by controversy - and which he's visited, on a very well-regulated tour that only let the tourists see what the authorities wanted them to see.
He said a little about Chinese art involving water, too, and how it could be subtly subversive. Those scenic views of a certain province alluded to a place known as an area of internal exile for Court officials who were out of favour. Those high mountains showed the overshadowing presence of the State - and more recently Chinese artists have used water to protest about pollution and, by trying to stamp the symbol for water onto the surface of a Tibetan river, making a comment about the impossibility of imposing Han Chinese culture on Tibet.
There is, of course, much more in his book, including the great voyages made by Chinese fleets - but I couldn't really justify spending £25 on the hardback.
I did head back to the Festival Bookshop after the talk, though. There was an immensely long queue outside waiting to have their books signed by Anthony Horowitz. Once inside, I spotted a few things that I'd missed the first time round, and treated myself to the paperback version of The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman, What Nature Does for Britain by Tony Juniper, and How Did We Get into This Mess? by George Monbiot. Lots of food for thought there.
Coming back into town, I noticed that the Rum Shack, presently open in the basement under La Maison by the Clock Tower, now has a hammock slung between two poles outside it, as well as a couple of deckchairs. And there's reggae music tonight at the Old Electric Shop.
I also wandered by the Post Office, where the letter box has been replaced by a new ATM machine - though it wasn't working when I saw it yesterday. The nearest post box is now the gold pillar box opposite the Blue Boar corner.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Photo Opportunities - and More on the Festival

I've been having my picture taken. I was serving in the shop when a chap asked for the photography section. When he'd had a look, he came back to the desk and asked to take my picture. He was using an old Leica - I think from the 1970s - with black and white film, just as it would have been used when it was new, and he was taking pictures of staff in every bookshop he could find which had a photography section. The camera had been a retirement present to his father, which was then passed down to him. His name is John Briggs, and he has a photography book out, of pictures around Newport, called Newportrait.
Later, I met Billie Charity on the edge of the last day of Fair on the Square. She also took my picture, which is up on her Facebook page now (also in black and white).
I went to look round the Festival site on Monday afternoon. There are a varied selection of stalls in the front gardens of houses along Brecon Road, as in previous years. The RAFA have a tea stall, and there are two stalls selling welshcakes. One of them also has crafts and wood turning. Then there are vintage clothes, and an ice cream cart, and more crafts in a tent on the corner of Forest Road. Further up Forest Road, Drover Cycles are running a café. The Swan gardens were also open with a beer stall and barbeque, and one of the cottages opposite the Swan had baskets and leather slippers outside.
On the Festival site itself, there were all the usual stalls set out - the Woodland Trust is giving away saplings all week (the first one went to the Duchess of Cornwall when she arrived to look round and to cut the cake celebrating 30 years of Hay Festival). Hay Does Vintage is there, and Athene English with her blankets and vintage clothes. The Oxfam bookshop was packed when I passed, and I treated myself to the latest Phil Rickman Merrily Watkins mystery in the Festival Bookshop, and a slim volume by Ta-Nehisi Coates called Between the World and Me, about what it means to be black in the United States. I picked it up because I recognised his name from discussions about graphic novels on various SF websites, especially the character Black Panther.
I also had a lovely chat with the lady on the Quaker stall. They were giving away postcards of panels which were part of the Quaker Tapestry - a history of the Friends done in embroidery. I remember the tapestry being done - there was a good article in one of the embroidery magazines I was reading at the time, and after the initial exhibition, the panels were scattered among Friends' Meeting Houses all over the country. There's one at Hereford Meeting House (it's down a little alleyway near the pub which is now called Firefly, and used to be the Orange Tree, near the Cathedral). It seems the panels are due to be reunited soon for a new exhibition. I came away with a badge saying "Quakers for Peace" and a couple of booklets on Quaker worship by a chap who calls himself Ben Pink Dandelion.
On the way back into town, I came upon the aftermath of a traffic accident. It seems that a shuttle bus hit a pedestrian outside the Blue Boar - I don't know how badly hurt the pedestrian was. All I saw was the bus pulled up with two police cars in front of it.
On Monday evening, Alan Cooper was playing at the Old Electric Shop, with Di Esplin on cello and Simon Newcomb. They're always good to listen to, but I finished work that night at 9pm, so all I wanted to do was crawl home and go to bed with a mug of cocoa!
Wednesday was the usual acoustic session at the Baskerville - some of the regulars, like Toby Parker, were off performing elsewhere, but Speedgums came along, swelled from their usual double bass and ukulele or banjo with the addition of Thomasin on harmonica and a chap playing the fiddle. Because Craig Charles was DJ at the Baskerville on Monday night, there was only one TV theme tune I could sing - Red Dwarf! And there were enough performers that it took about an hour to get round everyone. Two new faces (half the age of the rest of us, though they were playing Dylan and Johnny B Goode) had come from Builth, and seemed to enjoy themselves. One of them even played ragtime on the piano. And we finished off the evening with Phil leading us in a rousing version of "Sad Old Bastards with Guitars". "Hi, ho, silver lining!"