Tuesday, May 26, 2009

no hay fiesta, amigos

Once upon a time, I went to the Hay Festival, did my event, was presented with a white rose and, much later, the crate of champagne that is Hay's wondrous tax-free payment for services rendered. I stayed in Laura Ashley's old home - now a hotel of deep beeswax and buttonback leather luxury, and dined and breakfasted with authors far more famous and celebrated than myself. 

Two things stood out of that time - one was the morning I had breakfast with a mortally hungover author who was, for reasons that I shan't go into here, giving a wind-up paper bat its trial flight over her porridge bowl ( porridge - with a hangover? yeeeearrrrghhhh) while giving every indication that she was about to throw up into her linen napkin. 

The other thing was that after dinner the night before - also with famous authors and harrassed publicists - I sat down in a deep sofa - actually collapsed would be more accurate - and felt a chill breath all down my spine. This proved to be the zip of my dress giving way in its entirety, and effectively reducing my frock to something more like the kind of gown one slips into prior to serious surgery. Crossing the acreage of Aubusson on my way back to my room to effect a quick change was a journey I have no desire to repeat.

So why do I always feel like a geriatric version of the Little Matchgirl when Hay comes and goes and I'm not invited, again? Cool and hip festivals bring me out in hives, as a general rule. I've never felt cool or hip, and you can usually get a seat at any event I've ever done, right up until the doors close. Which is a nice way of saying that I rarely sell out. Any more. I did, once or twice, way back when, and once I'd stepped onto the podium and stopped shaking, I revelled in the buzz. My goodness - what a heady feeling it is to play to a packed auditorium. Whooooooo, it's not rock and roll, but it certainly comes close.

The de-zippered dress was never the same again, btw. Lacking the skills to insert a full-length zip in a linen dress, I employed a local seamstress to do the job for me. She, I am sorry to say, made a complete arse of the job, and the frock now languishes at the end of the wardrobe which is a scant black plastic bag's length away from being recycled.

However - the wind-up paper bat lives on. Two years ago, I found myself emailing the famous author and asking her if she would name her source of wind-up mammals. Being famous, and kind, she went one better - she sent me the remains of the same Bat at Hay Breakfast. Unfortunately, BaHB had suffered the ravages of time, and fell out of the envelope in its component parts. Undaunted ( I lie - I was deeply daunted, but not irrevocably so) I set about trying to find a substitute bat. Finally, after much purchasing of secondhand books on paper folding/ automata, I discovered a source of wind-up paper butterflies. Spent a merry week pulling the wings off the butterflies and trying to cut out and retro-fit all manner of black paper, plastic, tissue, cloth by way of substitute. In the end, after many, many doomed attempts, a high street retailer's January Sale plastic bags provided the perfect black plastic for my bat wings and the rest you can see for yourself on http://www.meettheauthor.co.uk/bookbites/1417.html 
At least, I hope you can, but being about as technologically capable as the bowl of porridge that the original bat nearly ended up in, you may perhaps encounter some difficulty accessing the link. You may have to, gasp, manually input it, which I guess is several keystrokes too many. Suffice to say, the bat, and several of his brothers and sisters, puts in an appearance. 


Mel said...

Now I want to know where I can find such a thing - or at least construct my own.

Debi Gliori said...

Mel - I trawled backwards through ancient emails and dug out a US link through which you can buy the flying butterflies, which you'll be able to adapt to suit.

www.flyingbutterfly.com was where I ordered some - before I discovered that the greetings card chain 'Birthdays' sold them.

Good luck :)

Cynthia said...

Lovely, lovely -- and the link worked just fine.

bookwitch said...

Coming to the end of PDM6, I feel you should be the next JKR. We'll have to get you to Hay and everywhere else, somehow.

At least you have answered my question about what people who don't sew, do to repair clothes. They pay someone else to fail for them...

Debi Gliori said...

Can't tell you how happy I am that you've made it almost to the end of the six book saga. I still cannot read that ending out loud without weeping - even though it is not sad. It's just...an ending.

artisfood said...

That was very cool - thanks for sharing.

Just finished the sixth book last week - loved all of them. The last paragraph blew me away. Utterly beautiful writing . . . I've read it aloud to my teenage daughter at least 4 times, and to myself many more.

I have no idea what to read now that I can't go back to Auchenlochtermuchty.