The Hay book festival is the highlight of my year. I love it. The sea of white tents, the colourful flags flapping in the breeze, the lamb burgers, Pimms and lemonade, the friendly people – all with a same purpose and, of course, the authors.
I’ve seen and heard so many people over the years. My best ever talk was an unexpected one. I went along not knowing I was about to have a life changing experience, in fact I only booked the tickets because there was a gap in my schedule. A Lucky Child is a memoir written by Thomas Buergenthal. A old man now, he is the most inspirational person i have ever had the honour to listen to. I’ve been to Hay and listened to many speakers and this was the only talk that has ever received an ovation that went on and on. He is a truly great man.
Thomas Buergenthal writes with a simplicity that is non-judgmental and the story of his youth, while horrific, tells you much about the man he will become. I felt, while reading this excellent book, that I personally would have raged against the unfair way I had been treated. I would have sought revenge. Not Mr Buergenthal’s way at all. After the harshness of his childhood he has used his experiences to help others in similar circumstances today and he is a former judge of the International Court of Justice.
I knew nothing about the inhumanities currently taking place in some parts of the world in the 21st century. I didn’t know that sex, religion and sect still matter and are the excuse for mass murder, acts of terrorism and oppression. I do know, I felt the need to research and find out for myself after listening to this mild mannered, quietly spoken man who dismisses his own terrible past while striving to help those who are suffering today. His memoir is a ‘must read’ book and I strongly recommend it.