A Hay-on-Wye bookseller has claimed he should be the next ‘King of Hay’.
Derek Addyman, born and bred in the border town and hereby known by the honorary title of Prince Derek Fitz Pitt Booth Addyman, believes he is the rightful heir to Richard Booth. His first royal decree would be to ban the Kindle from the book town – and stop supermarkets being built.
In a publicity stunt reminiscent of Richard’s 1977declaration that Hay was the world’s first ‘independent kingdom of books’ and his horse was the new Prime Minister, Derek is hoping his royal announcement on the day the 25th Hay Festival begins will promote Hay’s quirky spirit and ensure it remains an eccentric market town for years to come.
“I believe I am the natural-born successor,” said Derek, who certainly isn’t denying tongue-in-cheek rumour he is Richard’s secret son.
“It’s putting the kingdom in a safe pair of hands so we can continue our tradition of eccentricity.”
Derek’s bid for the crown surfaced when Tamara Gordon, who runs community video website Hay on TV, overheard a conversation about the would-be king’s plans to banish people reading Kindles.
“Kindles have no soul, they’re not sexy,” said 57-year-old Derek, who runs three shops in the town.
“Books can last a lifetime. The Kindle is just a toy and the best place for it is the bin.
“Hay needs to be seen as different and Richard has been getting that message out brilliantly for the past 50 years. I would like to do the same.”
Derek’s campaign might be light-hearted, but the rise of the e-books is a serious issue in Hay where six shops have ceased trading in recent months and businesses are currently fighting plans for a town centre supermarket.
“This is an important moment in Hay’s history”, said Tamara, an award-winning director.
“Hay is changing. The debate over a new supermarket has really divided people in the town.
“Now we have this debate about the Kindle and who should be the next King of Hay.
“All of it raises serious points about where Hay is going.”