chris hay blog 4 HAY IN SEGOVIA

The Man on stage in San Juan de los Caballeros

‘One starts as a poet and ends up as a travelling salesman. That is the tragedy of the writer.’ (Halldor Laxness)
On that note I’m just back from the Hay Literary Festival in Segovia. Halldor Laxness was right: it’s no longer enough just to sit down and write your book; you’ve got to get out there and strut your stuff with it, too. Now to the classier sort of writer this is obviously a nightmare. The writer tends to be on the timid side and inclined rather to the nerdish, the sort of chap who would much rather sit in a corner with a good book and a mug of Horlicks… or, for a wild night in, a glass of Sanatogen Tonic Wine. (You remember surely? ‘Fortifies the over forties’.)
There is another sort of writer though, the obnoxious prima-donna type who cannot wait to get out on the road, drink a little too much wine and make a lot of noise in front of the public. ‘Empty vessels make the most noise.’ I don’t like those kill-joy sayings… but you have to admit that there’s a lot of truth in them. Anyway, to cut to the chase: I fear I may be one of these. There’s nothing I like better than to get up on a stage and harangue my public. It keeps me on my toes and stops me getting too fusty and staid.
I think I am on record as saying that the only reason for writing a book is to have a good launch party – a thing oddly enough that no publisher seems willing to stump up for; you have to fork out yourself. Well, another good reason to write a book is to get invited to Hay on Wye, or wherever the festival happens to be having its current manifestation. I launched all four of my books at Hay in Wales, and then the Spanish versions in Granada and Segovia.
Granada doesn’t seem to be happening any more, but Segovia is wonderful. It’s the most beautiful city, set in the lovely countryside of Castilla y León. The Roman aqueduct is one of the most extraordinary things you will ever see in your life, and the food – largely pig and lamb, but they do a nice line in beans for the vegetarians – is worth the journey in itself. I don’t need to tell you all about Segovia; you can look it up in an encyclopaedia… but if you do go there, I recommend you eat at Narizotas – it means ‘big-nose’ – and that’s not because I have any vested interest at all in the place, but because I figure that if you have done me the kindness of reading this far into my first blog, then you deserve a good feed. And also, although they hardly need the publicity, it’s nice to see a thing done really superbly: the food, the wines, the ambience, the décor, the staff… it’s all just too good to miss.
To break up this turgid slab of text here’s a photo of me doing my thing in Segovia. Next week – assuming that nothing more interesting happens in the meantime –  I’ll tell you what I was droning on about.
Toodle pip

8 Responses to “HAY IN SEGOVIA”

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  1. Comment by Mike — October 11, 2010 at 11:41 pm   Reply

    So Hay is about half way between the places I live in (Rhayader and Stroud) and a great institution. Lynne and I have come to Grenada and think it’s great. I can’t see why it should have stopped happening after 800 years etc and it seems pretty good to me. Today we drove to Trevelez and though of you, at least Lynne did as she read your books and we looked you up on tinternet tonight. Magic country. We saw a fantastic double rainbow and some serious weather today.
    Hang in there

  2. Comment by Adrian — October 12, 2010 at 1:56 pm   Reply

    so Chris at last another entry! well done. I look forward to the next. Enjoyed v much driving over lemons and the sailing book too…


  3. Comment by Nigel — October 15, 2010 at 10:19 am   Reply

    Well blow me down…Mr Stewart has remembered he has a website & a duty to his adoring readers….me & my mum being right up there.Being an obnoxious primadonna type it’s amazing really that you find the time to sit & write. Good pic,like the hat,tho’ it looks like the gods are hurling bits of heavenly scaffolding at you.

  4. Comment by Wan — October 21, 2010 at 8:02 pm   Reply

    Hi there thanks for the quality post, i had a good read. :)

  5. Comment by glen braybrookeOctober 30, 2010 at 8:24 pm   Reply

    hi chris,
    reading this blog is like having an everlasting book. . . . so i suppose it’s like writing same. anyway, i tried to post a url to you in your comments section but there’s every chance i stuffed it up so here is a (probably better) picture of el valero under the fiery sunset; http://imgur.com/48zCY.jpg
    thanks for the book, i enjoyed this one most of all. warmest wishes, glen & nicky.

  6. Comment by Charlos (espanglish) — November 18, 2010 at 10:09 pm   Reply

    Further to Chris’ comments about the food, I’d like to add ‘ponche segoviano’ to the list of local delicacies… yum, yum, yum. I had some around 7 years ago at a pastelería called “Limón y Menta”, and I still remember it now…

  7. Comment by Dean Bisset (Perth,Australia) — January 26, 2011 at 5:14 am   Reply

    Chris, love your work, reminded me of when myself and fellow Aussie, long haired hippy, stumbled into Segovia in June89.We decamped from our trusty VW combi (1970 was a good year for them), to find ourselves in the midst of their fiesta. What a wonderful few nights we had, our Spanish extending to “Cerveza y Baño”, we were adopted by a crowd of locals. Thanks for reviving that memory. Just bored the wife senseless with long buried photos & stories. Been lucky to have returned to Spain most summers since, but never back to Segovia. Must remedy that. Cheers!!!

  8. Comment by Rhod Tibbles — August 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm   Reply

    Chris. Wasn’t aware that book no 4 had been published…. an interesting slant – nautical rather than Andelucia … look forward to reading it. I am a retired ex Civil Servant who has spent most of his spare time singing and playing guitar… sometimes it’s even appreciated!!. Altho my lovely wife of one year found that side of my life a shock.. and still does… !! We have both visited Spain on a number of occasions – always going for the cities and ignoring the poluted southern beaches. I’ve driven round most of Spain in two weeks, and seen most of the main cities on a separate occasion – but Seville always draws us back – spent my 60th walking the Al Hambra complex. Your pen pictures of Segovia brought it all back – hot sunny day, swallows swooping under the arch, Military pageant with battle scenes – and the wonderful castle… Have so much enjoyed all your previous books – really takes you into the real Spain…. Also prompts me about my biggest regret – have had around 10 guitars – but getting rid of a Ramirez in the early 1970’s – big mistake.. !!

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