Weeping at words.
In the courtyard the queue stand patiently waiting for the doors of the Great Hall to open.
Others recline in the eye-catching Penguin Books deckchairs.
Classic titles woven into the orange and white canvas.
A reminder to read, soon.
A nudge to elbow and a lean to ear.
'Look...he's coming !' one whispers.
Lord Hattersley, literary festival president strolling through the medieval courtyard with his new dog.
It says only guide dogs are allowed in the estate.
Perhaps special Parliamentary dispensation rules for lords with new dogs apply in this case.
New dog scents a row of lavender with a watery royal seal of authority as his master enters the Great Hall.
David Lloyd George - The Great Outsider the subject for discussion.
A pioneer on old age pensions, sickness pay and unemployment benefits.
I speculate if any of the Professors, the Sir's, all the Lords and Lady's plus Dames and Baronesses attending the festival have ever signed on to claim unemployment benefit.
'Now then, you haven't filled this form in correctly!'
'Did you lose your last job through misconduct?
' Refused an offer of suitable alternative employment or suitable training?'
Herbal teas are quickly quaffed as the crowd shuffle forward under the guidance of ticket checking ushers.
Sponsors newsprint carefully folded and politely placed to one side for others in line to read.
Ticket holders for the next event grapple with fallen Penguins and take their place in readiness for Penelope Lively and Lawrence Sail, novelist and poet.
Memories and Dreams.
Listen to delightful tales of childhood from Egypt and Exeter.
Elsewhere, Free Speech is on the agenda.
How the oppressed from around the world voice their dissent.
Another venue hosts talks with the former head of the Secret Intelligence Service.
Security and spies.
Shhh!...the room may be bugged.
On entering the bookshop we collide.
Her purchase falls on the ancient cobbles, my Big Issues follow with a flutter.
'Oops, sorry...my fault...I wasn't looking...let me...please....Of Love and Hope...looks an interesting read...?'
I said picking up her book.
'Yes...it is, thank you' she whispers leaning against the wall.
'...the cover illustration is Psyche entering Cupid's Garden...by JW Waterhouse...quite beautiful I would say...' came her sad reply.
"...Psyche, sick in body and wounded at heart, loathed her beauty
which the whole world admired...Why do beat those breasts so sacred to me..."
I try to avoid staring at her as she strokes the cover of the book.
I'm taken by her beauty and think how much she resembles Psyche.
She is wearing a similar off one shoulder full length pink dress.
Only the long lustrous red hair rolled to lie in a ball on her slender neck is missing.
What hair she has is concealed beneath a fine pink silk head scarf.
Her dark eyes deep set and red ringed as though she had been crying.
'And you...have you bought anything yet... ?'
'Not yet, but I sneaked a look at Simon Baron-Cohen's book...
The Science of Evil...all the tickets are sold out, but...I may catch him later and say to him... if you have any empathy...please autograph your article in my Big Issue...?'
I want to tell her more.
Empathy erosion, man's inhumanity to man.
Amnesty International who are in the West Wing, but she looks too frail and exhausted to listen.
'I may see you later...I'll let you know if I have bought anything'
She only smiled and walked off in the direct of the Zen garden.
I walk in awe amidst great authors sipping latte.
Drinking in every word I pass alongside the tiltyard and upwards towards the high meadow.
I catch sight of Ben Okri and a photographer who is trying to persuade him to pose beside a two thousand year old yew tree.
'Would you climb up here?' he asks me with a smile.
I look at the photographer, a young attractive sexy girl who flirts with him.
'Ahh...for her...I would climb to the very top...and...'
I gasp clutching my heart and stagger forward as though an arrow had pierced it.
'Excellent, that's just what I will do then...!' he beams.
'Are you coming to hear me read tonight?' he adds, weighing up the height of the tree.
'Sadly I'm only passing through and learning new words on the way, another time perhaps, but...please, would you kindly put your name on my programme...?'
'Passing through...and learning new words...I like that ' he said and put his mark on the page.
Click, click, click, the shutter whirs.
'Yeh, that's great..!' she squeals as he reaches up to catch a branch.
I come across her again quite by chance.
Psyche sitting on a log seat, lost in her thoughts.
Her hand inside her dress caressing a breast in lazy circles.
For a few minutes I just stand there entranced, like a voyeur watching a private intimate moment.
I cough and say hello again.
Startled she turns, her face wet with tears.
'Sorry, I didn't mean to...'
Sit beside me she gestures without a word spoken.
In silence we sit as though we were part of each other.
Nothing needs to said, the silence a pleasure shared.
A gaggle of geese swoop overhead breaking the quiet with noisy honks.
Abruptly she stood up and kissed my cheek.
'Thank you...for sitting with me...goodbye...'
'Please, please don't leave, I want to...!' I plead.
My plea went unheeded as she moved swiftly away towards the valley field.
'Your book...you have forgotten your...!' I shout.
Dried flowers mark the pages she had been reading.
"...the scar around my breast faded now..."
"...the invisible twin she rises to touch only to find skin over bone..."
"...the emptiness which will shout when I lose my left breast..."
"...your breast is enough for my heart..."
'Excuse me, this book belongs to a lady in a pink dress, she left it up at the high meadow '
'Ah, yes...Of Love and Hope...the lady in question insisted that whoever found the book, should read it and pass it on to another...'
I leave wondering if I will ever see her again.
An opportunist busker taking advantage of the Bob Dylan evening sings Where Teardrops Fall.
I drop loose change along with a Big Issue in the guitar case.
'Dylan is on page twelve, a good article...' I suggest.
My teardrops fall as I look at Psyche on the cover Of Love and Hope.
Of the million words uttered in the festival, these are the only two I fully understand.
Love and hope.