Imagine the world was something I could resonate with; here I sat in the Coffee Corner of the Friends’ Café in the Hay Festival imagining the thoughts of those around me. Diverse images mulling around in the minds of the gentle folk sipping their particular coffee brew. My literature and creative mind was thrilled to be observing the thinkers and the book devotees whiling away a half hour or so. There were people milling everywhere here including a presenter whom I recognised. I left him to his group perhaps discussing old and ancient objects. The eyes darting everywhere; this was one person only half listening to his friends. There was a seam of good looks about him, his face determined and as sharp as the curios he may have handled in his time.
Two young ladies sitting nearby were speaking Welsh one to another, keeping alive the language of the principality despite being close to the border of England. My daughter, a journalist; shuffling her papers and finding her notes. Is she writing a story?
What are people thinking about when they are here? A white haired elderly guy, his short, but bouncy, locks brushed neatly over his ears and with shiny white eyebrows atop his tanned face, is reading the Telegraph. It is Saturday, and so a lot of people are engrossed in reading the paper of the day, the paper of the place. Of course, it is the Daily Telegraph, what else! They have sponsored the event since 2011. He is obviously a seasoned Festival goer, as he has the Friends’ lanyard adorning his cream summer jacket. He pushes his jacket aside as he makes room for his paper. I cannot help but admire him and with his purple shirt, he is on trend for this event. I am unable to describe the lady he has with him as she has her back to me. She nods now and then, as he looks up to give her some vital news.
I am blessed by the simple things as I am sitting at this silver topped table, adorned with a flowery jug imprinted with snowdrops. In the jug, is a display of flowers of Sweet William and Gypsophila spreading their heavenly tiny petals across the table.
A young group are chatting amongst themselves; not one is reading a newspaper. Instead, they are tuned into their iPhones or laughing at something that only they can understand. Lots of auburn plaits and fudge-coloured pony tails in this chattering gang.
An Italian football fan with his sun-drenched face is wearing a blue t-shirt that is evidently his country’s colour. He, too, is deep into the Daily Telegraph perhaps studying the teams for the up and coming EURO 2016 Football Tournament! On the edge, a lonesome guy, rucksack backed, looks around obviously scanning for someone. But no, he doesn’t see the friend and turns around. No coffee for him yet.
I spot more Friends with their tickets enclosed Kangaroo style in their laminated pouches. The newspaper is being read avidly amongst this group, passing supplements along to their friends, “Have you seen this?”
A man, grey braised, trips over the lip of the entrance, smiles and whispers to his companion. A young man stares into the distance while the energetic waiters and waitresses bustle about, collecting the fallout of the coffee liaisons. I am scratching to ask which interesting folk they have already bumped into today, but I question not!
Palm fronds reach high over dipped heads and up to the glamorous sparkled curtain that is ribboning above the coffee beakers. There is indeed a calm and inspiring atmosphere blossoming, definitely here, as well as all over the festival site.
Chatting away on his glossy, green mobile is a guy in his mid fifties. He is wearing a striped green and black shirt to match his phone. His glasses are moving around as he crinkles his face with the conversation. He is so animated that he is oblivious to what is happening, even when his coffee cools before him.
It may be a coffee meeting place, but the champagne flows here too. There is a giant bottle cooling, and the orange sloping bucket tempts the viewer to come forward. But perhaps it is too early for this tipple?
There are ladies walking by, sharp blouses peeping from under their tailored jackets. They walk in, two by two, smiling and heading straight for the baristas. I notice a navy jacket above an expensive navy chintzy shirt with creamy hearts. Her friend has a neat short jacket too, but more of a curtain fabric, sprigged with herbs, leaves and ferns trailing off into a beige background. Her hair, being bobbed, seems to match the curtained look.
Some middle aged ladies, lattes in hand, approach the table next to me, and sit down. Out comes their A4 notebooks and they begin to discuss something very important. Could they be journalists, I mused? Again, very stylishly dressed; one with a navy and white striped top with a blood red side-buttoned skirt. Her companion sports a navy cotton summer dress with black sandals.
A tall girl, in her 20s, weaves through the tables, wearing black converse shoes, red a-flared short skirt and a black long sleeved t shirt. Her brown, shiny hair sails to her waist. With her sunnies on her head, she picks up her phone to text a friend.
My latte has been drunk, I have made my notes, and I am packing up and moving onto the next stage of my day. My listening ear will be tuned into Bryony Gordon who is a writer for the Telegraph, and she proves to be wildly enthusiastic in her presentation of her latest book “Mad Girl” and passionate about her subject. I have enjoyed my time Imagining the World in Hay.