It has taken me a while to think what to say about Hay Festival.
It is always wonderful to be invited to Hay, and this year for the first time I was there with Graffeg, in the adult part of the festival. Although not in the program, as I was unsure because of work commitments as to whether Ffion would be with me, I was on stage with Ffi. We tell the story so much better together. And we went up a day early and on the way Ffi was flicking through the program and spotted that helen MacDonald was on. So we booked tickets and went to see both Helen and Robert MacFarlane.
Both were astonishing speakers. I’ve never heard anyone read so well from their book, and Helen spoke so movingly about her crazy wild madness of grief. And Robert announced to the world that he and I are beginning a book together. What a place to do this. His talk was astonishing, over too soon. There’s a magic in his words I love.
After hearing them both Ffi and I decided that we had best just go home really.
And we saw Cathy Cassidy who had been on stage singing the praises of the lovely Erin Keen, who is behind the art on Cathy’s latest books. My Erin, my best friend from school’s daughter. I’m not sure it was wise to say, “ah, Erin, I knew her when she was a foetus. Infact I introduced her mum to her dad.” But I did say that, yes, in the bookshop and the festival.
Ffi had her eye on The Bloody Oyster.
Anyway, having stayed with the wonderful Tamsin Abbott, sitting in the garden listening to owls hoot, watching flames dance in a firepit we both woke and decided we had best go home and I apologised to Ffion for dragging her into Hay Festival and we had breakfast and then tried to behave like grownups.
First I went to Booths to sign books. An amazing shop, soon I hope to have an exhibition there, maybe do an event, or just sit quietly painting in the shop.
At the festival we found friends, including Karin (Celestine and the Hare) and Matthew (Graffeg) who were busy discussing weasels in the green room.
And we did our event. To about 200 or so people. And I loved the way afterwards people came up to congratulate Ffi on what she had done with the falcon. So wonderful. So proud of her, again.
Then back home and back to reality. Work to catch up with. 3 more library cards to do.
Going away has been hard of late. I have a 16 year old dog and had a 16 year old cat who was very ill.
Max. Beautiful Max, who I got as a kitten when I thought my husband was having an affair, because sometimes we do strange things in difficult circumstances. Max, who never really liked kittens apart from Pixie who he was a little in love with so much so that he caught her a rat who was bigger than her. Max, stripy tabby who kept himself to himself but if he chose to sit on you then you stayed where you were and stroked him and felt lucky. Max, camera shy, slightly aloof.
He had been so sick and gone from a big Easter egg shaped cat to skin and bone and wasted muscle. He couldn’t keep his food down, sometimes wouldn’t eat and still would be sick.
So, yesterday the sun shone and Max was sat in the garden and I called Kath and she came to the house and we sat together and talked and I held him while she checked him over and then we decided it was time, because to see him starve to death was too painful. And so I held him while Kath shaved his paw and gave him the injection that put him to sleep. And then I sat with him curled dead in my lap in the sunshine. And eventually I remembered where the spade was and dug a hole, and Tom helped me make it deeper and we put his body to rest in the earth. And some days are like this. Some days.
It is difficult to find words and best to lose yourself in paint, and the beauty of trees, and thought.
I never spend enough time drawing the cats who share my days, but I did remember one time, drawing Max.
Indeed, Max did have ears like velvet. Dark.