Saturday at the Festival . Literary festivals are what some do between the end of paid work and the nursing home. Women out number men ten to one and that can’t be just because of mortality rates. There are women who lunch and there are women who belong to book clubs. For those that do both, Hay is the Mecca.
Five authors-two best selling, two scientists and a thespian. The best selling authors- Victoria Hislop who writes saga romances based in beloved Greece. Elizabeth Strout whose books have a beauty,humour and humanity writes of characters who she sadly reports might well have voted for Trump. Something she a New Yorker out of Maine would/could never have done.
Easy on the eye Hislop gushes about how the Greek style is so attractive ,outgoing and captivating. Zorba,Shirley V,Mama Mia,Never on a Sunday, My Fat Greek Wedding-the tradition of getting your end away in laid back Greece is well established .As is the hatred/despite that the Anglo liberal establishment have for their own country.
How superior is the life balanced, emotionally liberated Southern Euro(for Greece read Italy, Prov ence,Spain etc) to the cold and fucked up Saxons, they left behind. And what a dull cliché all that is.
Elizabeth Strout writes about the most buttoned up WASPs that ever went to church on Sunday. Those from Maine. But use intelligence, wit and real imagination and great novels like Olive Kitteridge and Lucy Burton appear. She does not need to hang her characters on a history tree. While foreigners can romanticise their new homes ,those that write of what they know and have lived go much deeper into the human condition. And produce books that last longer than the summer holiday.
Professor Theresa Marteau looked like a mad scientist, tall, Bloomsbury dressed, bespectacled with wild hair. Like most behavioural scientists she came up with the most obvious conclusions. Why we eat and drink too much-portions and plates are too big. Oh really?
Helen Czerski is an alpha lady, looked good, spoke well and left this poor soldier for dead. Physics, I got the O Level but it was not enough to keep up.
And so we come to Charlotte Rampling.OMG. Who can forget her in Nazi kit in the Night Porter?(see link) She has made something of her pensioner status in geezer flicks like 45 Years and A[i] Sense of Ending. But her performance at Hay felt more like 450 years, The End. Oh the Lovey.The Dovey. The Pain ,the downright mediocrity.
“ I only do parts that have risk, I am not going to talk about my life. I did not want to write the book. I wanted to write poetry.I write after meditation. My father went to boarding school,they all did in those days. It was that easy. My parts all have a moral purpose.” She couldnt ,wouldnt speak, time and again the interviewer was left stranded.. When she did, she spoke lovey twaddle of the deepest pig’s manure. She grinned defiantly at the audience. She had the insight of a flea, the poetry of a throw away nappy, the fluency of a blocked drain. She didn’t think. Maybe she can’t.
Some dared ask why she was there, who this non book was aimed at, and how watching her was like seeing someone tear strips of skin off. She is another one I don’t have to dream about any more. Actors should steer clear of real life. That is not their point.