Pretty much every May half term I have headed to Hay-on-Wye for the literature festival, and this year proved no different. The Hay festival is the largest literature festival in the world, and always features a huge range of talks from many different subject areas. This year was slightly less sunny than past years, in fact it was steady rain the entire 2.5 hr trip down, but once I arrived
miraculously the rain stopped.
I had tickets to four events, the first was a talk by the three female campaigners Franny Armstrong, Liz Crow, and Jasvinder Sanghera on their work and why they decided to become campaigners. Franny Armstrong campaigns for action against climate change, Liz Crow is a campaigner for equality for disabled people, and Jasvinder Sanghera campaigns against the legalisation of forced marriages, and the honour killings that occur as a result. The three women were very inspirational to listen to and Ms Sanghera asked if we could sign her petition. The petition seeks to get the government to create a day of remembrance for the victims of honour killings, in the hope it will raise awareness and thus help prevent recurrences. It is an issue many people do not realise is a problem in Britain, and so the remembrance day should help create awareness, and enable people in similar situations to seek help. The protest is http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/number10gov-david-cameron-introduce-a-day-to-remember-britainslostwomen#share
I then had some free time to wonder into town. For those of you who haven’t been to Hay, the town comprises almost entirely of independent book stores. I bought a collection of Tennyson’s poetry from the early 1900s.
I then had the privilege of hearing Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke reading their poetry with was rather cool. Carol Ann Duffy was amusing to listen to, especially when she discussed the ideas behind her poems based on myths. After that I went to a talk given by Jon Butterworth about the Higgs particle discovery, how it was made and what it showed. During the talk Butterworth showed some rather complex looking graphs of the results of the the ATLAS and CMS experiments, however by the end of the talk I could
easily kinda understand the graphs. Butterworth did a great job of explaining what actually goes on at CERN, something I certainly didn’t know due to the lack of media coverage of physics. The talk was really good, especially as I (someone lacking in physics knowledge) understood it. I ended up buying his book, and GOT IT SIGNED WOOO.
The day ended with a talk by Philip Ball about physics under the Reich, and how leading German physicists dealt with Nazi antisemitism. The information given was interesting, and I learned a lot about the general attitudes of the physicists. Ball presented this as the scientists would do ‘whatever is best for the future of physics, personal morality aside’. Despite Ball’s lack of engaging delivery,the content of the talk was good.
Overall it was a very fun day, and it’s great fun to be in a place where everyone just wants to learn for fun. I can’t wait till next year, but I guess I have my Tennyson to read first.:P