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