Just got back from Hay-on-Wye having decided with S – at two in the morning whilst she was drunk and I was suffering from sleep deprivation – it didn’t matter that we had missed out on tickets. If Neil G was going to be there then we were going to.

So. Bleary eyed, and with more coffee in my system than any man should, I jumped in the car with S. The weather here has been glorious and as a result I had a fantastic drive through the Beacons that reminded me of how much I miss Wales; Abbey Wood just doesn’t compare.

We arrived with only one minor incident on route where I nearly ran over the parking assistant as we pulled into Hay-on-Wye – did I mention I was tired?

Promptly we spotted our first “name”, Paddy Ashdown, whom I offended immediately by pointing and saying “look it’s Paddy Ashdown”. The answering bushy-eyed glare convinced me to move on as S pointed out she was not old enough to know who that was – sigh – thanks Sis.

Next up, Rory McGrath. Rory was trying very hard to do his piece to camera in the central green and failing miserably due to the number of people milling around including – no prizes for guessing – yours truly. If the hand gestures were anything to go by I think it had been nearly as long a week for him as it was for me.

Anyway our task was to find Neil G and to – if possible – sneak into the tent. In this we failed, between S shaking from her hangover and me tripping over my own feet with fatigue we weren’t so much cunning as foxes as blunt as a pair of rusty spoons.

When we realised the tent we had diligently been waiting outside was not in fact hosting the Neil G event and had exhausted every café in sight we decided to go into town. I refrained even though I saw a beautiful antique leather-bound copy of Gulliver’s Travels, S sensibly opted for a cheaper copy she could carry round without fear of damage.

Which is a really long-winded way of saying: I saw him. Having returned to the tents area to top up my caffeine levels I caught – out of the corner of my eye – a tall, bearded man, dressed in black waving a laptop around with a look of intense concentration up on his familiar face.

I suspect this peculiar mime show was the result of the problems of getting an Internet connection as I had similar problems with my PDA.

Anyway I digress. Did I go up to him? Did I thank him for writing several novels that made me smile? Did I mention how his blog keeps me writing when I have occasional moments of doubt? Did I bollocks. Instead I stood frozen to the spot (in my bright red t-shirt that probably made me stand out like a stalker) poking S and saying “It’s him, it’s him.”

Then we left. Shyness, it seems, is not just a habit with me it’s practically an art form.

You can check out Neil G’s blog for yourself here:


The Hay-on-Wye festival is pretty cool, some days more so than others, check out the site for this year’s event here: