I remember her encouraging me to take part in athletics’ sessions at school, rather than using my asthma as an excuse to stay in the changing rooms, swimming endless widths across freezing cold outdoor swimming pools during the summer holidays and playing five sets of tennis at least twice a week at the local tennis club.
Her tactics paid off as here I am to tell the tale. Were she alive today I wonder if she would feel that her efforts had been worth it!!
At school I really loved sport, especially gymnastics, running and tennis, strangely I don’t remember much about the other subjects, and in fact don’t remember ever doing homework, though I must have done what was set otherwise I would have been expelled.
Many years after I had left school, around the age of thirty, I went to a gym in Oxford, where I was working at the time, and before planning a routine for me I had to do a fitness test which involved cycling on a static bicycle with various instruments attached to my body to monitor my response to the exercise. I did it once and the instructor said there was something wrong and could I do it again.
A second time produced the same error, and so I had to do it a third time. The instructor then told me the result was that expected from a professional athlete and for that reason he had assumed there was something wrong with the machine. He also told me it was too late to take advantage of this information as I was now too old to become a professional athlete. Maybe in my next life, though I am torn between being a sportsman, a botanist, a writer, a photographer and a rock guitarist As you can see I’m just a mixed up kid!
Anyway back to school and asthma. Due to my ailment I missed a lot of school, especially during primary. I remember having an asthma attack every ten days on average in those early days of the illness, and this meant I didn’t learn to read as quickly as my classmates. I remember once going to Sunday school in Cardiff, not my favourite activity neither then nor now,
Churches are very often architecturally beautiful and pleasant places to meditate in when virtually empty, but my appreciation of them ends there. Anyway, the lady in charge of the Sunday school, took us into the main church to watch the service and she gave us all a copy of the Hymnbook, and I have to admit my level of reading at that time was so bad I hardly knew which way up the book should be, and certainly had no chance of following along to the hymns.
My family doctor was great, and he gave me some books to read at home to help me learn to read. They were from a series called Janet and John.
If I had to choose between having books or a television, I would not hesitate in choosing books, as Groucho Marx said,
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
Here in Colombia, I know of two book fairs which take place every year, one is, La Fiesta del Libro y la Cultura in Medellin, and the other is FIBRO, Feria Nacional del Libro de Bogotá which as the name implies, takes place in Bogotá.
A friend of mine went to the one in Bogotá just last month and bought a suitcase of books back with her. She now has one arm longer than the other.
She said they paid homage at the fair to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, affectionately known as Gabo, who died earlier this year and was the author of many books including, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, Chronicle of a Death Foretold and No One Writes to the Colonel among others.
Hay-on-Wye, or just Hay as it is commonly called, is a quaint and very beautiful, market town in Wales with a population of around 2,000 inhabitants. It situated on the border with England in the county of Powys. The Welsh name is Y Gelli Gandryll. Hay is the National Book Town of Wales and is often referred to as the town of books.
The name is first referred to between 1135 and 1147 as Haya, then later; in 1299 the name of La Haye is used. By the 16th century it is simply called Hay and then later the addition of the river’s name. In 1215, a Welsh name, Gelli was recorded, and Gelli Gandrell in 1614, the two names may have been used concurrently as in 1625. The English name, Hay, is derived from the Old English word haeg, possibly meaning a "fenced area" and a noun used in late Saxon and Norman times for an enclosure in a forest. The Welsh Gelli has a range of meanings including wooded areas.
The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts is an annual literature festival which lasts for ten days taking place in May and June. The Festival was started by Norman and Peter Florence in 1988, and was described by Bill Clinton in 2001 as "The Woodstock of the mind".
The festival has expanded in recent years and now includes musical performances and film previews. A children's festival, "Hay Fever", runs alongside the main festival. It has also expanded internationally and sister festivals take place in various cities around the world including, Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. In 2009 Hay Festival also took on the ailing Brecon Jazz Festival.
The tongue-in-cheek prank has over time developed a healthy tourism industry based on literary interests for which some people credit Booth. In 2005, Booth announced plans to sell his bookshop and move to Germany and local Member of Parliament Roger Williams was quoted as saying "His legacy will be that Hay changed from a small market town into a Mecca for second-hand book lovers and this transformed the local economy"
If you are ever near Hay on Wye, take the time to visit, even if the festival is not on, as it is a lovely market town, but if you are into books and the arts in general then plan your trip to coincide with the festival, you’ll not be disappointed.
If you would like to receive email notifications of updates to this site click here, fill in the relevant details and press submit.