Friday morning surprise from the Hay Festival

Driving to work this morning, we ware listening to the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show with Chris Evans. I realised they were live from the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts (must remember to go there in the future) when Alex Jones (the Welsh lady on The One Show) was reading a story as the radio was switched on, and I remembered they’d been talking about going to the Hay Festival on yesterday’s show. They were reading out the stories of the runners up in the under 9’s 500 word writing competition, and Alex read a story about a knicker-pinching dog – didn’t realise at first that it was written from a dog’s perspective, so someone hiding a little girl’s knickers in their bed was slightly confusing, as you can imagine!

“Stop looking at me like that!”

A bit later on, when we were coming up to turning off the A52, the next reader was introduced … Ben Willbond, a.k.a. Henry VIII (and others) from Horrible Histories. In my head, I went bouncing up and down going “Oooh oooh oooh!!” like an overexcited monkey, but outwards I just had to stop myself from grinning too excitedly.

As it turns out, he’s an avid reader, and has been since childhood, when the local library used to be his haunt. He’s just got a Kindle and sounded very enthusiastic about it too (“You can download all your books on it, it’s brilliant!”) and has recently re-read his childhood favourite, The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall, winner of the 1975 Carnegie Medal. Apparently, it’s a novel about a group of kids in the North East, set during the height of World War II.

He went on to read the story from the runner up in question – it was very good, although the Squeeze joked and said “it’s no Lord of the Rings“. I was quickly running out of road leading to work, but pulled up outside just as he read the last few sentences, so managed to catch it all, luckily. And now I’m here, telling you about it, because it just couldn’t wait.

So in conclusion, Ben Willbond:

  • loves books
  • has a Kindle
  • reads historical fiction
  • has a sense of humour
  • is terribly funny
  • can sing
  • is darn handsome
  • looks fab in a cravat (Q.E.D. →)
  • and is my latest celebrity crush, so there

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