Stay off the grass

It’s time once again for the Hay Festival, which is filled with great lectures and discussions, many of which I download onto my iPod — and I actually pay for them. I just downloaded this: “WE-THINK: The power of mass creativity. Charles Leadbeater. The rise of YouTube, Linux, MySpace and Wikipedia defines a new society in which participation will be the key organising idea. Join us for a last chance to shape Leadbeater’s groundbreaking investigation before publication.”

In a buying mood, I wandered around the shop — not that I can afford anything with my depressed dollar — and was amused by the self-parodying European efforts to make everything virtuous and environmentally correct, even T-shirts, which are made by “independent ethical clothing label offering original designs on sweatshop-free ethically sourced, fairly traded and organic cotton.” Yes, but how do they look. And the books they publish for the event are equally ethical: “Cambridge University Press has strict environmental controls and uses only soy-based inks. The Dutch Simili Japon paper uses fibres regulated by Pan European Forestry Certification and the Forestry Stewardship Council. No elemental chlorine is used in the pulp preparation or paper making.” But how’s the grammar?

Do I have to offset the carbon emitted for generating the wattage it takes to download and play the lectures? Well, so be it. It’s worth it to hear Hitchens (who, by the way, I’m listening to — rather than reading — in his entertaining polemic against religion; it adds so much more to hear Hitchens himself talk about the Catholic policy of “no child’s behind left”).