The King is dead. Long live the King of Hay-on-Wye.

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My new job, as a journalism lecturer at the University of Worcester, started in earnest on Friday with a field trip to Hay-On-Wye for our new cohort. We set the students the task of tracking down two well known faces in the town. Lucy Powell, (above, centre) the former landlady of the oldest pub in town and Richard Booth, (above, left and right) the self-proclaimed King of Hay.

It was great, in particular, to meet Richard Booth (my new colleague Claire Wolfe spent the more time with Lucy Powell), who is widely credited as being the instigator of the world-famous “book town”. Now well into his seventies the King is still in possession of a keen mind full of lively ideas. His latest is to give away over 200,000 books to anyone who fancies establishing a book town of their own. On Sunday the town staged a mock execution an proclaimed that the Independent Kingdom of Hay was now an independent commonwealth instead. And the King’s reaction to all this? He stayed away but was seen drinking with Royalist sympathisers in the Crown. Where else?