On the coat-tails of The Etherington Brothers (my husband and his little bro Lorenzo) I went to the Hay Festival this weekend. The boys performed three Comic Capers shows in as many days, introducing 1,000 children to the joys of creativity - particularly the magic that happens when words meet pictures. I was so proud to sit in the crowd and watch them do their thing with such aplomb.
Afterwards, as the boys signed books, I did a little browsing. Earlier I'd discovered the joys of Richard Booth's Bookshop and picked up a couple of second-hand gems, but was soon drawn to the shiny-new delights in the Festival Bookshop. I wish I read more slowly, as I'm afraid I'll zip through this little pile in no time at all...
I've started with Diamond Star Halo by Tiffany Murray and I couldn't be enjoying it more. Owen Sheers describes it as 'a beautiful, pitch-perfect harmony of Wuthering Heights and your favourite mix tape,' and the Guardian, 'heart-felt writing from the glam-rock Dodie Smith.' I'm half-way through and so far, so utterly perfect. The writing is sensual and pops from the page. And it makes me want to listen to T. Rex, which is never a bad thing.
My other find of the weekend was deep in the stacks of the aforementioned Richard Booth's. A Terrace In The Sun by Cecil Roberts. I'd not heard of either the book or its author, but the title spoke to me, as did the whimsy little sketch of villa and Cypress trees on the cover. The blurb - written in 1951 - sealed the deal: Stephen May, at the height of a distinguished career as an artist, looks at his life one New Year's Eve in Monte Carlo and finds he has nothing left to live for. I'm imagining it as a darker sort of An Enchanted April.
It was amazing to be in Hay as a WAG along with Lorenzo's wife Esther, cheering on the boys from the sidelines. But as I watched them on stage, gulping down water and adjusting their mics, by stomach flipped a little, as next time I go to a festival with The Etherington Brothers I'll be appearing too. I suspect my audience will be less prone to giggling and I'll be doling out fewer knuckle bumps, but then again, you never know.