A diary of the author's visit to the Byron Bay Writers' Festival in 2006. Despite being hundreds of kilometres from Sydney or Melbourne, this is one of the most popular festivals for authors, readers and publishers. Why is it so?
Byron Bay is a gorgeous place. It has a summer sky -- a bright, clear canopy of cloudless blue, which would not be out of place on the hottest day of the year. But at ground level, it is winter. A chill wind blows and people have their scarves and coats on.
It's rather an attractive mix -- the blue sky puts you in a good mood, and the cold breeze slaps your face and wakes you up.
Today is schools day at the festival, and I am sitting in an internet cafe, fortifying myself with strong coffee before heading off to face the hordes of youngsters.
I feel sorry for the kids -- how could you go to school on a glorious day like this? On the other hand, at least they get to leave the classroom and go and see a bit of a "show". I feel duty bound to entertain them with jokes and funny stories instead of trying to teach them anything! But shhh. don't tell the teachers!
At midnight last night, God opened his fridge door and slipped this part of Australia into it. This morning you could tell -- the air was chilled to freezing point. There was a queue outside every coffee house bright and early. No one was drinking the coffee they bought. They just wanted something hot to hold.
My hotel is just by the harbour. The air is clear, cold and bright like needles. The river surges along, shiny and energetic, like a well-groomed dog. The passers-by bury their heads into their shoulders, turtles in anoraks.
And I’m feeling very strange indeed. It’s not just jet-lag, it’s something else.
It’s not until noon that I work out what it is. It’s season-lag. In the last few days, I went, in short succession, from a summery London, to tropical Hong Kong, to winter in Australia. My body thinks a whole year has passed by. It’s had most of the seasons in a single week.
I guess it makes sense: flowers are sensitive enough to get confused about the seasons. It’s only right that human bodies should be as aware.
Tomorrow I do some press interviews to publicize my new books, and then head to Byron Bay on Wednesday. It should be great fun. But I still feel odd – I expect my body will expect spring to bloom tomorrow and summer to arrive by Tuesday. I suddenly feel a hankering for roast turkey and Christmas pudding. Ho ho ho and a merry Christmas to you too.
This blog has been selected as a special "festival blog" to be featured at the Byron Bay Writers' Festival in Australia -- one of the most colourful literary shindigs in the world. Click the continue button to see the festival version of his diary items or click this link to go to the writers' festival blogpage: