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Literary Review - Guy Walters

Frankly, it was a triumph. Eight hundred people had gathered in the Barclays MegaCash Pavilion at the Hay Festival to hear me talk about my latest book. I was a little nervous, as I am accustomed to speaking to gatherings of about a tenth of that size. However, after a few minutes and a few laughs, I managed to relax, and the talk seemed to go pretty darn well. Afterwards, I signed about sixty books and then Tiggerishly bounced into the Green Room, where I was given six bottles of wine.

I approached the Artists' Reception desk to ask about expenses, explaining that my round trip was 250 miles. What was Hay's mileage rate? I can't recall if the woman's eyes bulged or narrowed, but they certainly expressed astonishment. Expenses? Mileage? She needed to ask somebody.

I watched her ask somebody. Somebody looked up to see who this nobody was. Somebody said a few words, and the woman came back and told me that I should email somebody else. I asked if there was a form, anything like that. A form? She didn't think so.

As I drove home, I did some maths. Those eight hundred people had each paid £7, earning Hay a tidy £5,600. Compared to Hay's turnover of £4 million and gross profit of £1 million, that's not a huge sum, but it is certainly greater than a homeopathic ratio. Hay had probably made around £1,400 from me and I had got, er, six bottles of wine. I googled the wine to see what it cost and found it for as little as £8 per bottle. So 48 quid all in, and I bet Hay paid a lot less for it than that...

Literary Review - Guy Walters

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