Saturday, 30 May 2009

Morning and Evening

Events at both ends of the day today, leaving plenty of time to lie around in the sun and complain about it being too hot. Never thought I'd be doing that this year.

Started the day with Deyan Sudjic talking about The Language of Things. Sudjic is the Director of the Design Museum and his talk was essentially about design. Never let it be said that we don't try different topics here at Hay. I quite enjoyed this one. It made us think about the impact of design vs fashion vs utility. He covered a lot of ground and it was interesting stuff.

But then came Alain de Botton, the novelist/philosopher. His topic was The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work. This is a topic close to my heart, especially as the clock is ticking and our last day in Hay approaches. Soon the sorrows of work will be all too evident. Alain de Botton manages to look at everyday simple things and make them fascinating, funny and entertaining. He looked at jobs that don't get the publicity in fiction that they deserve. How many shows do we see about Police officers, criminals, news reporters? They are well represented occupations in fiction. Aliens might look at book shops and conclude that we spend all our days fighting, murdering or solving crimes. There are other jobs. He looked at Logistics, in particular tracking the lowly Tuna fish on its long journey from ocean to plate. He looked at the biscuit factory worker, and one that is especially on my mind at the moment, the Accountant. (Although, if the accountant is poorly represented in fiction this may soon be addressed as I have just passed 75k words on my novel – watch this space)

This accountant felt real resonance with the picture Alain de Botton painted of this overlooked vocation. Not always in a good way. It was a terrific talk, one of the best so far. I'll probably buy the book, but I'll have to work through the pending stack first because I really am beginning to suffer from books-I-really-have-to-read-but can't-find-the-time anxiety.

This evening we have Jeremy Paxman on The Victorians and an illustrious panel under the heading Dark Matter: Poems from Space. I'll let you know.

No comments: