Tuesday 12 June 2012, 11:41
Ten days at the Hay Festival can be like living in that old TV series where everybody in the street is famous. After a while you become almost celeb-blind. If not exactly celeb-deaf.
The Artists' Green Room is a tent with sofas and a garden outside, where nobody seems to pay for a drink. I walked in there yesterday in search of Martin Amis, past a table where actor Tom Hollander of Rev was sitting on his own, apparently rehearsing a script - aloud.
The day before, we had to squeeze past Bettany Hughes, Simon Schama and Tony Robinson, deep in discussion over something historical - presumably.
You also pick up snippets of conversation, like this one from BBC arts boss Alan Yentob on his mobile: "Is Salman here yet?"
Sometimes, they can get right up your nose. Last Friday I interviewed Eva Gabrielsson, long-time partner of the late Stieg Larsson, of Dragon Tattoo fame, on stage in front of an audience of about 500. We'd also arranged to record a long interview with Eva for Radio Wales, and producer Tracy Cardwell had reserved a little relatively-soundproof shed known as the Shepherd's Hut which is there specifically for the likes of us radio people.
Except it was already in use.
'It's Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary,' were we told. 'He had to take an Important Phone Call in private.'
This was rumoured to be from David Cameron but, hell, Ed Davey could have gone anywhere to take it on his mobile. Eva Gabrielsson had flown from Chicago the previous night and hadn't had any lunch. Plus Ed was keeping his own audience waiting.
After 15 minutes, I was about to storm in and throw him out of the shed, but he'd locked the door from the inside.
And that's why, when you eventually hear our long interview with Eva Gabrielsson, you might detect the sounds of a crowd of celebs chatting and clinking glasses. We had to record in the Green Room, made even less radio-friendly by the tent frame clanging under the force of torrential rain and a rising wind.
As Ed Davey is also the minister for Climate Change, I'm blaming him for that, too.
Our next interview was with Bafta-winning screenwriter and director Bruce Robinson, so we took no chances. As Bruce only lives a few miles out of Hay, we went to his place.
This is a remote farmhouse where you have to cross a bridge over a rushing stream to get to the front door. A bridge which, according to local legend, was crossed by Johnny Depp, star of Bruce's latest movie, The Rum Diary, an adaptation of the first novel by the late Hunter S Thompson, author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Bruce wouldn't formally admit that Depp had actually come to Hay before they started shooting, but local people remain convinced that he did and I'm one of them, so you can count on it.
Either way, when we run the programme, you'll be able to hear some very amusing anecdotes about JD and the equally rich Keith Richards.
And later, on Phil the Shelf, you can hear Martin Amis. I did find him in the end. But guess what...
...the damn Shepherd's Hut was locked from the inside again.
So you can listen to Martin's erudite commentary on the writing of his very funny new novel Lionel Asbo over the clinking of wine-glasses, celebrity chat... and possibly Tom Hollander in rehearsal.