Thursday 6 September 2018

Festival memories

Every year at the end of the festival season Steve Lamacq asks listeners to his Six Music show to send in their festival experiences. He’s been kind enough to read a couple of mine out. So here they are, along with a few other memories.

A Trojan effort: read out 4 September 2018

Latitude this year – it was impossible to see get past the crowds to see the Killers. So I went with instinct and turned up to see an act called Trojan Sound System. Except there were only four of us in the tent. There were 40,000 watching the Killers. But soon three guys came to the microphones and started the sound system. Ten minutes later the tent had gone from four punters to 400, all celebrating 50 years of the Trojan record label. The Dad dancing was pretty bad. I include myself in this because I'm no dancer at the best of times; but when attempting to bop to the Trojan beat...well I'm glad that people were using their phones to video the Killers and not us. Yet it didn't matter. A man near me, probably in his late 60s, was doing a very-unreggae-ish Highland Fling.

I'm sorry but no! Read out 15 September 2014
My friend Rob and I went to a big top tent in the campsite bit of the Green Man. This band were and were awful. But they were told they could play one more song. And it was brilliant. Begging the question: Why didn't you play that in your scheduled act?’  Also - A guy we were with got increasingly frustrated, as the weekend went on, by being barged past by festival-goers. We were waiting for the midnight burning of the Green Man - where people play bongos and generally whoop - and this woman tried to get past us. This guy finally snapped. He said:  'I've put up with this all weekend and I'm sorry - I'm not letting you past. I'm sorry but no - not this time.' The woman said: 'I'm playing the bongos'. He said: 'Go on then'.

Traffic gridlock: read out 26 August 2014
Nine hours in the car - from North London to Reading to pick up the teens. What a stupid thing to do. They should have got the train. Traffic gridlock. Torrential rain. Engine off. I shuffled a pack of cards, read my book and let out a primal scream of frustration. I found the teens at the railway station at 4pm - drowned as a rat. No one was happy, although at least I’d had a roof over my head. The boot smelt of damp clothes and tents. The teens fell asleep on the way home so I listened to some music I've recently heard on Six Music. Calm after the storm. A lost weekend.
Festival virgin. Submitted 6 September 2018
In 2010, for his first ever festival, our friend Tom stupidly brought along his six-year-old daughter’s tent to the V Festival. It was tiny. But Tom decided to see the whole festival out, with his head sticking out of the tent. Now, people always trample through campsites, craning necks upwards as they’re trying to locate the flag that’s flying near their tent. So, folks aren’t good at looking where they’re going, they’re often drunk and they’re usually tripping over guy ropes every ten seconds. Tom's coping mechanism was to stay awake all night and when someone approached in their confused state, he would shout: ‘Small tent'! And then, he'd curl himself up to get as much of his body as possible inside his daughter’s tent. And his back was in agony. So Tom never came back...until Latitude this year. He borrowed my brother-in-law's three-person-pop-up. He had tons of sleep. And tripped over loads of guy ropes...

Toilets one
Imagine the scene. A woman – let’s call her Vicky – is persuaded to go to a festival, by her friends, because ‘it’ll be a laugh’. But on the opening morning, she takes her first visit to the bog. Those temporary lavatory company lorries describe their contents as ‘non-hazardous waste’. How, in anyone’s universe, this can be a claim that can be believed, is beyond me. Back to Vicky. I’ve seen the look on the faces of women like Vicky who open the door and leave the portaloo / septic tank for the very first time, and it’s not good. Vicky’s about to abandon the festival site because the look is one of horror, confusion, disgust, revulsion and regret. My top tip is to go into a festival toilet just after a woman has been in there. They generally clean up better than men do. Well, Vicky didn’t get the chance to.

Toilets two
A few years ago, my brother-in-law Andrew went to ablute in the portaloos, or perhaps we should call it the crappy encampment. A bit hungover, the poor lad lingered in the cubicle perhaps just a bit too long. After a while, it all seemed eerily quiet. Too quiet. He gingerly emerged from the plastic poohouse to discover that a lorry had, whilst he was shitting, come along and blocked the entire entrance to the loos. And Andrew had to watch on in terror as in front of him, the tops to the pissoir units had been taken off, in readiness for sucking into the lorry. So, on his departure from that cubicle, he was met with eight steaming vats of urine. Piss soup. And he couldn’t leave until all the remnants of ravers’ bladders were sucked away. Pipes were pulsating, the stench was something you’d imagine in a refugee camp and poor Andrew had an out-of-body experience as piss went past him in a conveyer belt of hell. When he got back to our tents, he turned down my offer of an apple juice to go with his breakfast.

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