Being part of a book festival, we are often asked to measure things: how full are our theatres? How long is the signing queue? What is the total height of the participants of each event if they stood on each others shoulders? (Answer: results vary wildly. Frank Skinner, suprisingly diminutive, and Will Self who, armed with tiny dog, is a towering specimen of manhood, are living proof). Often we try to measure things well in advance, and to predict exactly what each measurement will mean.
But there are some things which, until they happen, you simply cannot predict: how many inches of rain will it take until the infamous EIBF ducks can be seen floating merrily in the puddles? How many hours of sunshine until the mud turns into lawn again, and becomes picnicable on? (Answer: not many. Book festival go-ers are very brave, and will picnic on even the swampiest lawns.)
And there are some things which it is most delightful not to measure. The joy, wisdom, and twinklings of genius which shine through in the portraits of authors hung around the site. The rapture of a happy audience member who has finally met an author. It is always magical for a reader to meet someone whose fictional worlds they enjoy. The laughter of the seemingly endless seas of children who pour through the doors. The amount of ice cream and cake you can eat in a day.
So while we might know how many tickets we've sold, and how many authors we've given sandwiches to, we don't know the details of every nice experience, every happy coincidence, every joyful picnic on our swampy lawn.
So do tell us. We are curious to know, even if we cannot ever truly measure it.