Two early starts in a row and the long journey from Edinburgh to Hay Festival to promote The Dog Who Came in From the Cold (Alexander McCall Smith’s latest novel) proved well worth while this weekend. A 4.30am start on Friday to pick up Alexander and head to the airport, a hugely long security line but an event-free Easy-Jet flight down to Bristol. And then a delightful drive over to Hay, arriving in the picturesque village which straddles the English/Welsh border at 9.30am. Book-tourists, authors, the famous and the infamous were in town, enjoying the early summer sunshine and relaxed atmosphere that accompanies this festival. Alexander’s events both went well. The first was a recording of the Sky Arts Book Show presented by Mariella Frostrup. Alexander’s fellow guests on the sofa were the actress Virginia McKenna (remember Born Free?) and rock legend, Queen guitarist Brian May. You can only imagine the thrill for a mere publicist to find herself in the greenroom sitting with these three greats. Thank you to Brian for patiently listening to me witter on about We Will Rock You and the delightful experience I had in Edinburgh last year as a mother taking her fourteen year old son to this show and getting the opportunity to introduce him to the music of one of the world’s greatest bands. (And then having to fork out for another ticket the following night because he’d loved it so much!)
The second event of the day was Alexander McCall Smith in conversation with his dear friend, Paul Blezard. Both were in fine form and entertained the capacity crowd for just over an hour in the biggest Hay tented theatre. I’m not sure of the exact capacity but it is certainly over 1000. Those walking by outside must have wondered what on earth was going on as the audience was reduced to tears of laughter as Alexander read to the audience about Oedipus Snark, the only nasty LibDem MP and the exploits of Freddie de la Hay, a Pimlico terrier, enlisted by MI6 to spy upon suspect Russian businessmen. A signing queue that lasted over and hour followed before we retired to the main green room for a well-earned glass of chilled white wine.
4.15 on Saturday morning for the return journey home but the driver was very late and we made it to Bristol airport at 6.30am for a 7.10 flight. But the queue for security! Snaking right around the airport. We ran for fast-track, paid £10 for the privilege of getting to a shorter queue and made it to the flight.
Remember – add more time to the schedule for security queues at British airports this summer!
And don’t miss Alexander talking about The Dog Who Came in From the Cold on BBC Radio 5 today. Find it on iplayer.
JAN RUTHERFORD (Publicity and Marketing Director)