First off, if you don't know about Hay-on-Wye or the Hay Festival (which I expect is the case for most of my American readers), you can learn what you need to give this post context in fifteen seconds from this photo essay. If you don't linger over the pictures.
So I'll see you in ten minutes of so. Don't worry; I'll wait.
At this year's Hay Festival, two of Britain's finest finest writers, Neil Gaiman & Stephen Fry, spent an hour enjoying one-another's company. On stage in a packed hall. With a national television audience. While the UK Children's Laureate, the amazing illustrator Chris Riddell, set up stage right, illustrating both the speakers and the stories they were telling, with a camera on his easel to show us — and the house — what he's drawing.
In spite of starting with over five minutes of a card saying this live stream will start shortly and an introduction that was fine for the live audience but that you've more than covered by reading this far, the first hour was some remarkable television. Neil and Stephen engage one-another in the the kind of conversation that only two such brilliant artists — artists who genuinely admire one-another's work — can have; each reads us a story from his current book; they even take a few questions from the audience. All punctuated with occasional laughter and applause for what Chris is drawing real-time.
Then Amanda Palmer joins them. For only about their last eight minutes on stage. Most of it, Amanda reading one of Neil's poems. A poem about science. A poem — and a performance — that brought tears to my eyes.
If you watch none of the rest, do yourself a favor and watch the last 8m30. In those few minutes, Amanda Palmer gives one of the most compelling spoken-word performances ever. Seriously. I speak as a connoisseur of the form.
Or do yourself a bigger favor, and watch the whole thing, starting at 5m15.