Friday, 1 June 2007

The Woodstock of the Mind

This was Bill Clinton's description of the wonderful Hay Festival. It's held every year in the tiny Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye, packed with the kind of excellent second-hand bookshop that used to be so common 30 years ago.

Just like at Woodstock, heavy rain had turned the fields to mud. Fortunately, to keep our minds dry all the events took place under canvas. Darian and I spoke about our book to an audience of around 700 people for about an hour, including time for some very pertinent questions. An excellent event. And we got to stay in the same hotel as Tony Benn and Peter Falk!

Darian had spotted an interesting detail in the report on Roseto I mentioned a while ago. Remember that Roseto was the socially cohesive town of descendants of Italian immigrants, where early death from heart disease was non-existent. It turns out that an indication of the breakdown in this cohesion was "when the town's coronet band, founded in 1890, demanded for the first time to be paid for playing at the church's big festival". This was observed in The Power of Clan: The Influence of Human Relationships on Heart Disease (1992) by Stewart Wolf and John G. Bruhn, a follow up to their The Roseto Story—An Anatomy of Health (1979).

When will we learn that health and politics are inextricably linked, and act on this?

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