Festival madness.

July 6, 2009

Do you know what a state dependant memory is? You know when you are drunk, and you lose something, and then when you are in the same state, you remember where you put it. That is a state dependant memory, and  that is what happens with me and festivals.

My stomach sank on Friday morning. I looked out of the window, and after a week of glorious weather- I saw torrential rain, and  Lake Gallilee had formed outside my house. This was the first state dependant memory. The memory of every festival that I have ever been to. Waking up on the day of departure, to torrential rain- and the prospect of a weekend with trench foot, bad food, and cold.  I packed deeply unnatractive waterproofs(which i lost anyway, and never felt the benefit of..), my list of the bands/dj’s I intended to see, and off I went.

By the time I arrived- the torrential rain had dissapeared- left enough mud for the wellies to come out(pink candy striped wellies- clearly not an outdoors girl really..) and been replaced with glorious sunshine.

Unlike every other festival, I did not spend hours grappling with the intricate science of tent erection- instead arriving on site after my friends(actually one friend and her friends) had constructed a tent, laid it out with all things necessary for a great weekend, and already settled in.  This all boded well. As it was, I barely saw this tent, and not putting it up, meant I was not familiar enough with it, to actually find it without difficulty and luck, later on in the weekend… Her friends quickly became my friends, and off we went.

The initial forays to explore the lie of the land,  became entwined with the festivities, and I happily realised that the whole of Hebden Bridge had upped sticks to this collection of muddy fields for the weekend- with my neighbours, my stepson and his friends(trying desperately hard not to look like they were doing anything illegal at all..) and various acquaintances from different stages of my life- also there, in wellies-tentatively exploring this site of tents, marquees and sounds stages. After the first hour or so, of inhibitions falling, and decibels increasing- time began to lose all meaning.

Went from soundstage, to marquee, to tea shack, to a beautiful clearing in some very tall woods pounding with techno, and teeming with people. Many conversations with people, some strangers, some not, some already half recognised, and gotten to know in the time that elapsed between Friday evening, and Saturday afternoon(evening? Really not that sure). Had conversations with everyone, on topics as diverse as the meaning of life, the new Doctor Who, how to eat a twix correctly(you nibble the chocolate off the sides, then peel the toffee off the biscuit, then either eat the biscuit or chuck it..). It was dark, then it was light. Then I was lying on a sleeping mat, in a circle of tents, with some rather nice people- considering the awful choice that lay before me.

Lie there and fall happily asleep in the sun(which was already hot) and eventually be discovered as the toasted remains of me, or move and find the tent(which could have been green/red/blue, large or small, and possibly in a field with more tents…). As I did not at that point, have the capacity to move- my options became rather limited. THe porch of someones tent was offered- and I lay there, hoping for sleep, but actually listening to the competing decibels and beats, from the various soundstages- contemplating the fact that there was definitely a toothbrush and an unopened pack of cigarettes in the tent I had lost.

After being christened Bernard, and being part of a discussion about which animal we would prefer to be stampeded by(we came up with Meerkats-but realised it was impractical- as we would need about 15oo meerkats trained to stampede, possibly in pyjamas, and that might be difficult to locate)-the urge to pee, became stronger than the urge to sleep- and after a doze(it may have been sleep, it may not)- I went to look for the toilets.

This turned out to be a masterful stroke of planning. While I did not find the toilets- I did find my tent. Important rule- if you are looking for your tent at a festival, you will never find it, but kismet and serendipity mean you will always happen upon it eventually when you are looking for something else.

Saturday night at a festival is always different to Friday. The energy and the enthusiasm dissipates somewhat, and it is replaced by casualties from the night before, trying to rediscover the energy that they had the night before-without realising that the lack of sleep, adequate nutrition, and a shower- means it is lost till at least Sunday.

I valiantly gave up at 4am, and spent several hours asleep in a yurt.

Sunday was spent in a day of relative sobriety, looking about 30 years older than my years- eating cake, drinking tea, and contemplating going home. This placed me at odds with the rest of the gathered partygoers- but responsibility beckoned. They had found the energy to party with the same enthusiasm that they had arrived with- but this was my cue to leave. As the friend I had come with, was in no fit state to drive- I grabbed a lift to the station- and on Sunday evening, I managed to get myself home, albeit with filthy hair, a mouth that tasted like someone had died in it, and attire that might as well have been a neon sign  that said ‘I am on my way home from a festival’-(muddy wellies, denim cut offs, a bag with a sleeping mat sticking out- and hair that looked like it was on the verge of dreads).

Today, as I settled back into life watching Rachel, drinking tea, having clean hair, with techno replaced by Radio4, I was reassured by the friends that I had been with, that they had had a wicked time. State dependant memories of recovery from festivals, have appeared out of nowhere- . I didnt see any of the DJ’s or bands I intended to see(I may have caught 808 state, but really was unaware), but I did have a brilliant weekend. I have eaten terrible noodles, some things with chickpeas in it, and a very greasy burger, and paid way over the odds for the priveledge. I have peed in smelly portaloos, and I am quite sure that my stuff will remain in the bags I took for at least a week. I dont have trench foot, I do have sunburn, in a pattern which indicates it was earned while I was lay on that sleeping mat, procrastinating about finding my tent.

Rachel is now in bed. I am clean, my house is not, and I have decided that that is my festival fix for the summer. Unless Kendal Calling tickets fall ito my lap…


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