The Hay Festival programme is out. Details arrived by email on Saturday, which is fortunate as the next letter of the A-Z writing challenge is H.

The Hay Literature Festival is more than a book event. It is two weeks of stimulation and reflective entertainment. This year the dates are 26 May to 5 June

We are not going to make the trip to Wales, but that does not stop me looking through the programme and highlighting writers, drooling over books, and soaking up ideas.

Here are a few events, just in the history section, that caught my eye.

Sinclair McKay and Thomas Briggs
BLETCHLEY AND ENIGMA
Event 11 •  • Venue: Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

The historians reveal unknown secrets of Bletchley’s wartime operation and the Enigma.

Svetlana Alexievich talks to Bridget Kendall
SECOND-HAND TIME

Event 66 •  • Venue: Telegraph Stage
Swetlana Alexijewitsch 2013
The 2015 Nobel Literature Laureate talks about Russia and the USSR. Her Nobel citation was for “her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”

David Evans and Philippe Sands
WHAT OUR FATHERS DID: A NAZI LEGACY
Event 92 •  • Venue: Starlight Stage

The director and writer of this documentary introduce a special screening of the film in which Sands, a human rights lawyer, conducts conversations with two men, Niklas Frank and Horst von Wächter, whose fathers were indicted as war criminals for their roles in the Second World War.

Philippe Sands
THE ERIC HOBSBAWM LECTURE: EAST WEST STREET: ON THE ORIGINS OF GENOCIDE AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
Event 117 •  • Venue: Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage
Philippe Sands (Wikipedia)

The lawyer and writer explores how personal lives and history are interwoven. Drawing from his acclaimed new book – part historical detective story, part family history, part legal thriller – he explains the connections between his work on crimes against humanity and genocide, the events that overwhelmed his family during the Second World War, and an untold story at the heart of the Nuremberg Trial. Chaired by Helena Kennedy.

Maggie Andrews
THE ‘ACCEPTABLE FACE OF FEMINISM’: 100 YEARS OF THE WOMEN’S INSTITUTE – UNIVERSITY OF WORCESTER SERIES
Event 206 •  • Venue: Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

The WI is fondly thought of in terms of ‘jam and Jerusalem’, but its roots are intertwined with the women’s suffrage movement and the many campaigns that have sought to articulate the needs of women since the First World War. The Professor of Cultural History will explore the political and social initiatives that helped define the radical organisation.

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I won’t add any more; else I will end up with most of the history section.

We have not been to “Hay” for a few years. If we were in the UK, we would probably go, but the pull to travel is not great enough, which is our loss, I guess.

The last time we went Jim saw Alan Bennett from a distant seat in a large tent. I sat in the Festival Cafe with a couple of other people who had not paid £25 to hear and see the man in the flesh, present his funny and fabulous talk. Fortunately for them and me, the organisers broadcast an up-close presentation of what was happening in the main tent, onto a screen in the cafe. When Jim came out of the packed tent, he said, “you should have come, it was great.” I grinned and said, “I know.”

I do hope the organisers record more of the presentations, so the Hay sparkle is shared without the journey.