Be afraid people, be very afraid! Especially if you’re a music fan, even more so if you’re a music fan of a nervous disposition. It’s pretty likely that if you haven’t already heard it, you’ll soon be hearing the following phrase…
“Going to any festivals this year?”
It would be both prudent and wise for me to say that going to a festival is probably one of those things you should do at least a couple of times. You’ll encounter all sorts of conditions; meet assorted numpties and decent folk of various creeds and tackle a multitude of obstacles which, as my Dad would put it “build character”. However, if you don’t want to end up like me, spending your impending old age blogging like a less wishy-washy Jon Gaunt whilst polishing your Zimmer frame, take heed and listen.
Readers of recent blogs have probably worked out that I’m not a big fan of watching ant people on a stage half a mile away in a field in the middle of nowhere, but if you’re a fan of certain popular beat combos then there are occasions when this kind of sacrifice has to be made.
To be honest this will be the very least of your worries at a festival.
If you’ve made it past the touts and other passing tradesmen masquerading as locals on the way to the site, you’ve made a good start! From my own experience festival weekend in Reading would be a doddle for both punters and locals without the tout hurdle near the station “buy or sell!”, festival tickets, buy or sell!”, “festival tickets” (oops nearly tipped that last guy over!), then there’s the challenge of setting up the tent. Whoever said that camping is fun obviously never had to go through the torture of having to drag a piece of canvas over a set of poles. Let’s face it, if camping was that great, the Cardboard City would have its own little suburbs and every branch of Blacks or Millets would be offering special rates for people who wanted to stay there overnight.
To add further to the fun, you’ll spend each sleepless night feeling your spine being rearranged as you lie down on that bumpy piece of ground you parked your tent on. Cross your fingers and hope that’s all it is and not an anthill. I know at least a handful of people who’ve had to share their sleeping bag with an army of ants and other assorted members of the insect family once or twice. If that doesn’t drive you to distraction, then as a more “exciting” alternative to counting sheep, try and guess how many pissheads trip over your guide ropes. Or be “serenaded” by a bunch of twats circled round a campfire passing a guitar around playing a selection of busker’s classics and whatever festival faves are floating their boats this summer.
You’re still standing? Still alive? You’ve managed to go 48 hours without having a dump? Well done! Go to the overpriced beer tent and grab yourself a well-earned pint! You’re gonna need it cos I haven’t mentioned the weather yet. It wouldn’t be Glastonbury without TV coverage of the place looking like a cross between Verdun and a Third World disaster interspersed with hippies, tents floating away, the toilets overflowing and the harrowing sight of Jo Whiley* pretending to
know about music. This year there’s the added possibility of Bono launching a disaster appeal from the Pyramid Stage.
Speaking of Mrs Hewson’s little cherub, no doubt the following week’s NME will be full of how he and his backing band lifted everybody’s spirits and stole the show, what a kindly soul he is and how he epitomises the Spirit of Glastonbury. While I’m sure he loves his mother and is kind to little furry animals, the spirit of most festivals these days is more likely the chance to fleece as many folks as possible and make a quick buck, extortionate prices, poor facilities, piles of mud and/or excrement and if you’re really unlucky a load of hackneyed New Age nonsense.
Don’t believe me? Go to a festival or two and if you don’t come back with at least one horror story then you’re bloody lying!
(*) Speaking of Jo Whiley, is it me or does her smile remind you of the Alien from the movie of the same name?