Making Hay with Honno

'In Her Element', Honno's featured book for June.

May’s seen Hotel H heaving; we’ve had the Fat Boys (five days), Lily and Boyf (long weekend), Rose and New Man (Five days. Very nice, Rose. You can keep him. Yes, Lily, Rusty is lovely too) and Stepson One and Girlf (six days). It’s wonderful to see everyone but I was very glad to have the chance of an outing last week.

When I received an invitation from the lovely people at Honno asking me to join them at the Hay Festival to celebrate 21 years of publishing, I was thrilled but a bit apprehensive about my credentials for mixing with the hip and happening. As a Hay novice, the event was smaller than I’d anticipated, even, at first, a tad disappointing; I wandered round in a bit of daze worrying that I wasn’t ‘getting’ it. But once I’d parked myself on a bench to absorb the atmosphere I started to see beyond the clichés, the Boden catalogue families, and designer wellies, organic chocolate and worthy ice creams. Look a little closer, listen to snatches of conversation and Hay’s simply about folks enjoying books.

Naturally, the highlight for me was the Honno event. I couldn’t find it at first and stood around where I thought I was supposed to be wondering where to go until someone spotted my invitation and directed me to the VIP section! Do they mean me? They surely did! Even better, they were expecting me and by the time I’d been given a name badge and a glass of wine my VIPness had gone straight to my head and I couldn’t stop grinning. After all the hours spent alone applying bum to seat in my study it was a complete contrast and a real joy to be celebrating with everyone involved with Honno.

Honno was started in 1986 by volunteer founder members working from their homes and supported by people keen to see publishing opportunities for women in Wales. It was a real privilege to hear founder members Rosanne Reeves and Luned Meredith and long-standing member Eurwen Booth talking about those early days. Thanks to their efforts I can now hold a book in my hand with my work in it and my daughter, Rose, who worked as a summer volunteer with Honno, went on that same year, to fulfil her aim of a job in publishing; we’re just two of the many women who have benefited from what they begun.

I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to meet other Honno authors like Paula Brackston and Carol King who, like me, contributed to ‘Strange Days Indeed’. Lindsay Ashford, who has had four books published in five years, and was short-listed for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year 2006 still sounded as thrilled about her success as new writer, Lorraine Jenkin, who is enjoying accolades from her fellow dog walkers for the publication of her novel, ‘Chocolate Mousse and Two Spoons’. Do check them out at the Honno site, in fact, do have a look anyway; there’s a wide variety of beautifully produced, inexpensive books to choose from.

I left the Honno party feeling exhilarated and inspired and as I walked through the crowds something strange was happening. People got out my way and kept giving me speculative glances. I wondered what was going on until I remembered I was still wearing my name badge. No, sorry folks, I’m not a real VIP but I certainly enjoyed pretending to be one for an afternoon.

On the subject of books, I bought a slim volume of poetry at Hay by another Welsh publisher, Pont Books, an imprint of Gomer Press. ‘Poems of Love and Longing’ has become an instant favourite, especially Chris Kinsey’s beautiful and moving sequence of poems about her greyhounds. There a couple of clouds on Hotel H’s horizon, bad and sad news, just part of life’s cycle, so this book’s been a bit of a comfort read lately, something to turn to before going to sleep. I’m glad that I didn’t resist the impulse that made me pick it up.


Sally's Chateau said…
Chris, I hope that the clouds over HotelH blow away and that you are all ok, written words are a great source of comfort.
Preseli Mags said…
Lovely to hear about your VIP trip to Hay - you certainly deserved it after all your hard work on FTT. Sorry to hear about clouds and sad and bad news. I hope the sun shines on you again soon. xxPM
Milla said…
what a fantastic sounding day, chris, let's hope it's just the first in a long line of VIPittyness
Milla said…
oh, I hit the wrong key part way through and it posted without letting me finish. No full stop, look. Anyway, where was I, yes, ditto to Mags and the fingers crossed that bad and sad news keeps at bay. Share what you need to or what you can and love and luck for the rest.
Goshde ar a celeb for a day! Well doen, fear not teh couds you need them every now and then to remind you how much you love the sunlight!
Oh dear I really should spak Englsih moer often it might help the writing..what I should ahve said was
Gosh dear a celeb for a day! Well done, fear not the clouds you need them every now and then to remind you how much you love the sunlight!

on second thoughts first version had quite A WELSH POETIC RING!
elizabethm said…
sounds a fab day out and just what you need after all that self discipline. I know just what you mean about visitors. We have had various of the children passing through. It is great to see them but I am knackered and could really do with a quiet and calm weekend.
We have a bit of the sad and bad news here too. Hope yours passes and the sun shines.
Anonymous said…
I'm sure you looked just the part and good on you for making the most of it, Your VIPness-ship.

CJ xx
Elizabethd said…
Sounds like a super day. Well done for being a very important person.
I hope the not so good will fade away quietly.
Lane said…
Loved hearing about the Hay and your VIPness. I bet you could get used to that!

Hope the clouds are not too dark. If they are ... ((hugs)) x
Cait O'Connor said…
I had a day in Hay (in torrential rain) with my daughter but not as a VIP!
Very best wishes that your clouds may lift a little for you soon.
Frances said…
Ever since I heard of the Hay festival (some years ago) I have always hoped to visit there. Thank you for your view of your visit.

VIP bit is very cool and very much deserved,Chris. You are such a fine writer.

Also hope that your bruise bits have stopped changing through the color wheel and have returned to normal appearance and feeling.

Keep on writing! xo
Flowerpot said…
Chris I hope life starts improving soon - that VIP trip sounds much deserved and hopefully will encourage you and make ou feel better too. Take care.
Fennie said…
I love Hay - was there twice this year. UNESCO were sponsoring Tinariwen, the band from Mali,on the opening weekend. We then had tickets for Will Hutton last Sunday.
Wisewebwoman said…
I hope the fog clears and the sun comes out for you Chris!
Delighted you had such an 'important' day, celebrating such good stuff!
Inthemud said…
How exciting to hear about your VIP Honno day at Hay. I love going to Hay and mooching around all the books. Never been at festival time though.

Gosh you've been busy at home, all those friends and family to feed, you must be as exhausted as me,(maybe more so as your guests stayed for much longer!!) after my weekend of running "hotel" facilities!!
Fern said…
A belated thanks for the comment on my blog and asking about my shoulder, I am about 6 months in and am now a fully paid up member of the bingo wing club, it's very frustrating as I am sure you know. I certainly hope your own shoulder is back to normal by now.
Your VIP day at Hay Festival sound really good fun and very well deserved.
I do hope the sun chases away the clouds and you feel better soon.
Debs said…
I've visited Hay-on-Wye but not during the festival unfortunately and intend getting there in the next year or so. I'm so glad that you had such a lovely day as a VIP, it sounds wonderful.

Sorry to hear you've had bad/sad things happening.

Expatmum said…
We call our place Hotel H! And with being so far away, our guests are often here for two weeks. Knackering.
What about the writer who's banged out four books in five years. Wow. I can't believe it. Must get back to work, must get back to work.
Zinnia Cyclamen said…
Glad you had fun at Hay, I hope to get to the festival one day (very much doubt I'll be going as a VIP though). Hope the bad sadness runs its course with as little associated trauma as possible.
My apologies for being a tad late here Chris. I have just commented on your above post, wonderful about you beginning another new Novel, best of luck with it.

Your day at VIP sounds lovely, hoping that many more will follow for you to enjoy too.

Sorry to hear you have had some sad new Chris, hoping that the clouds will lift a little for you soon.

Fennie said…
Not sure about the compost - we just throw everything into our Council subsidised big green bin and it disappears - like a magic porridge pot in reverse. Some smell but containable.

On the title - it's a comma thing. isn't it? Make, do and mend not being the same as make-do and mend.
But no doubt you have positioned the comma deliberately.

I understand the expression is naval. The sailors mended their clothes on a MDAM day and when they had finished they had to find (make)something else to do. But there may be other explanations.

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