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Hay Festival: Michael Frayn, A A Gill, Alain de Botton
THE good fortune of having something as incredible as the Hay Festival right on our doorstep was encapsulated in a chance meeting in an event queue.
An American lady of mature years was waiting to see the talk by the celebrated writer Michael Frayn.
“I have come over for the week from Ohio,” she said. “We come every year.
“We have nothing like this in the States.”
The great playwright and novelist certainly would not have disappointed our new friend from across the Atlantic.
In conversation with Daily Telegraph arts editor Sarah Crompton, he spoke entertainingly and informatively about his new novel Skios, an exploration of a case of mistaken identity – an airline passenger gets in a cab met by a driver with a name-plate at the airport. But it’s not his name.
Frayn was the centre-point in a typically varied and enlightening Hay day.
It began with a talk by the journalist, columnist and writer A A Gill who, in conversation with John Mitchinson, the head of research for the TV programme QI, discussed about his new book The Golden Door – Letters to Americans.
In a talk, bizarrely interrupted by a mobile-phone call from Gill’s mother, the writer explained his enthusiasm for America and most, if not quite all, things American.
Next up was the philosopher Alain de Botton who explained some the thoughts behind his latest work Religion for Atheists.
Essentially, he was trying to convey that just because you might not believe in God, that should not exclude you from all of the other potentially life-enhancing things – art and culture, for example – which surround religion.
If this was thought-provoking if cerebral, then the day concluded with something equally thought-provoking but material.
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