Steerpike

Steerpike at Hay: the ‘ay list

Steerpike at Hay: the ‘ay list
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Martin Amis is not appearing at Hay until next week, but his new novel was already getting the intelligentsia chattering this weekend. ‘Lionel Asbo: State of Britain’, a grim tale of a violent lottery winning criminal, is under strict embargo until it’s release on Thursday and the Telegraph has paid an undisclosed fortune for the serialisation rights. Numbered and unbound review copies have been kept under lock and key for weeks to protect the exclusive deal, so it was a little unfortunate that three copies of the novel were found in the festival's onsite bookshop on Saturday morning — the day the exclusive extract ran in the the paper.

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As the sun set on a wet Sunday evening, the ‘ay-list headed to home of the Revel Guest — the 'Queen of Hay' — whose farm had been taken over by GQ and Soho House. Guest, who bought to rights to ‘War Horse’ when it was just a little known children’s book, tells me she hoped she did the right thing with the play and film and that children would still be reading it when Mr Steerpike was her age.

Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan and ‘Withnail and I’ director Bruce Robinson held fort while AC Grayling, John Kampfner, super-agent Ed Victor and even the local Tory MP Jessie Norman tore up the dance floor. Despite being on site to promote his Murdoch tome, Labour’s Tom Watson was unable to make the party. His co-author Martin Hickman did though, claiming Watson did not want to come. Presumably accepting such media hospitality would clash with Watson’s new image, which is odd given he used to be famed as a guest at just this sort of event.

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While Boris spent his time at the festival denying he wanted to be Prime Minister, Labour MP David Lammy was optimistically asked to confirm rumours that he was seeking Labour’s nomination for Mayor of London in 2016. At Hay to promote his book about the riots, the Tottenham MP’s obfuscation was hardly convincing. If he wanted to stamp out the rumours, then Lammy probably should not have spent the entire GQ dinner bending the ear of of Guto Hari, the former City Hall director of communications. I spotted the two deep in conversation for a good hour with Lammy listening intently to the spinner’s words of wisdom.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from London and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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