Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Hay Festival's very pretty, but very very far from London

Hay Festival 2016 - Sunday 29 May

I've had quite a long day :) I decided in the last couple of days that I'd pop along to the Hay Festival to cheer on Tom Hollander who was one of the actors performing at Letters Live, which is a lovely thing that I missed in London this year (though have managed to go to a one a year or so ago). And also see the Hay Festival for the first time.

My first surprise was how busy the Jubilee Line is at 7 in the morning on a Sunday. More packed than it is on a weekday, surely. I missed the 8 and 8.07 train from Paddington with ease (it didn't help that the Bakerloo line from Baker Street won't be stopping there until August, wish I'd paid more attention to that!) and so I risked the later, but direct, 8.42 train, arriving in Hereford at ~noon. Paddington didn't have that many trains today - normally when I'm there as you walk up the stairs there's a sort of whum-whum-whum of lots of engines all echoing around that beautiful hall, but today it was much quieter.

The train journey to Hereford was lovely, then it was a random shared taxi to the Hay Festival - another 40m journey. Unhelpfully the taxi driver dropped us off at 'How the Light Gets In' festival which is about a 15min walk from the main festival so I arrived just after the event began and found a rare seat. A word to people on pavements - get into single file people. Also you always walk facing the direction of oncoming traffic so if I'm on the outside keeping an eye on the cars don't crowd me off the kerb please. A massive 'thrrrppp' to everyone who got in my way today.

Holy crap Hereford and Hay are pretty though. I spent the entire taxi journey smiling at trees (top faves - ash with their lovely little leaves), hedges, wild flowers, some sheep, meadows, great big hills over there in the distance, fields and general countryside accoutrements (tractors, adverts for potatoes). Then as we approached Hay on Wye - bunting! I love bunting. They had great big white marquees, and oodles of bunting and flags. Perfect.

The Letters Live event was heaving and for some reason I'd been expecting a much quieter and smaller affair. It was a huge venue and of course, being late, I was at the back and couldn't see much so was grateful for the big relay screens. It was all very lovely with a range of letters (funny, poignant, frivolous, devastating) read by different people. Benedict Cumberbatch (unbilled) did four of them!

Apart from lovely Tom, who could probably entertain just by reading the yellow pages ("not much of a plot, but what a cast" *ba-dum-tish*), possibly the audience favourite was Bruce Robinson who managed to misread the word 'flunk' for a word less suitable for the 1pm family-friendly slot. He then got the giggles which made it all the funnier.

Toby Jones (go and watch him in Berberian Sound Studio, he's brilliant) did one of my favourite letters - that from Evelyn Waugh to his wife about a subaltern who made an out-by-10 error in clearing away a tree stump. My mum used to read it to me and we'd fall about laughing at it, so it was lovely to hear it read, and all in different voices. Tom read a couple, including the rather sweet 'Love what you love' from Ray Bradbury.

Anyway, I'll sleep well tonight after all that travelling ;)

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Everyone loves Tom Hollander - I've only just realised quite how talented he is

Edit 16 May 2016: Things he has coming up include a role in the film Tulip Fever and he's doing a BBC Radio 4 play from Wed 18 to Thur 21 May at 2.15pm, called School Drama which gets a nice write-up in The Guardian. He's also appearing at Letters Live at the Hay Festival on Sat 28th (sold out) and Sun 29th (tickets).

I've always liked Tom Hollander. I remember really noticing him in 'The Lost Prince' (in which he was brilliant as King George V). Loved him in Rev. and In The Loop too, among others.

Last week I discovered that he's also a very good writer and has had a column in The Spectator for years. I'd completely failed to hear about this until he recently wrote about meeting Prince and the tweet below found its way into my timeline, piquing my curiosity. His back catalogue is funny, thoughtful and honest and I wondered what everyone else thought of his writing... so I had a look on Twitter and realised that liking Tom Hollander (as an actor or writer, or just people having met him) appears to be everyone's default position. Quite right.

I think this tweet's how I discovered that he'd written something.
Assuming this is real he's also rather good at whistling...

...and he was absolutely incredible as Patrick Moore in 'Far Side of the Moore'. My amazed face looked a bit like this :-O on hearing his 'impersonation' of him (I'm not sure that's quite the right word) though. He's bonkersly talented.

I collected a bunch of tweets in this Storify and have embedded it below. There are quite a few tweets so wait for it to fully load (or just view it at Storify).