You heard it here first. We said it on May 19, 2006, again on June 2, 2006, May 25, 2007 and again on June 3, 2008. (That’s not an editorial “we” – or even a Nintendo one – it’s “we” as in the DG and I). You will already have realised that this is about our second favouritest town in England – even if most of it isn’t: Hay-on-Wye.
Hay is in the news lately. There's this survey they do every year to find the happiest town in the country. This year the first place, at the top of the short list of 273, is none other than Hay-on-Wye in the county of Wopsy – whoops, I think that should be Powys. Good news and bad, of course: good that its qualities have been recognised at last, but bad in that this is probably the end of Hay as we know it. It was OK hidden in the total obscurity of the RW blog, but BBC1 did a feature on it the other morning and now its fame has spread throughout the whole English-speaking world and the USA. Things will never be the same.
This is to warn you about Hay. Don’t even think of going there – they speak a funny language with a consonant-to-vowel ratio of a thousand to one. It never stops raining; the spring lamb chops are inedible and nobody speaks to you – they’ve all got their noses stuck in books.
Don’t take my word for it, listen to Boubacar Touré. Who is Boubacar Touré? you ask. Only president of the Timbuktu Twinning Association, that’s who. Hay is twinned with Timbuktu. Why? Because every town in Britain is twinned with somewhere; because it provides excuses for exotic trips for overworked local councillors; and because, at least according to the twinocrats, both towns are interested in books and they’re both on rivers. But old Boubacar tells it like it is. He said on a recent visit to Hay that there are also some differences. "We have sand, Hay has mud and trees and it's cold," he said.
Hay for the hayseeds.