Blog posts are like buses and men, you wait ages for one and then two huge ones come along at once; well, in a few days at least. In this, I still haven’t got Rusty back because I spent the weekend at Reading Festival ...
I had 48 hours to turn my act around; from the time I got back in the door after driving back from the valleys of Wales and The Green Man Festival to repacking my stuff and heading off to Reading Festival. The lesson I learnt from The Green Man Festival was: don’t take so much stuff. So I didn't – I managed to reduce my crap by one bag and my baby wipe quota to just six months’ supply, should the apocalypse happen. I also invested the sum of eight pounds on a single airbed. Possibly the one of more sensible things I’ve done this year – although not a foot pump in which to inflate it with. Idiot.
My younger and cooler friends from taekwondo were dropped off at my flat, the trusty Corsa was packed again and we were on our way. After a circuitous route around the south of England in order to gain entry to the ‘white’ car park; we were unpacked, tented and ready to go. It was more of a squeeze compared to Green Man and less of a mix of ages but I have a hardened forty-something head on my shoulders and so I donned my toilet paper and visited the lavatories. Let’s just say, the Reading festival loos have not made much progress since days of yore. Stinky long-drops where one’s doings join the rest of the area’s number ones and twos in a big sewage party. After the third day, I had to cover my mouth with a tissue – thank the Lord that the ones in the arena were flushable. I am so first world.
|The Main Stage|
A trip to the local Tesco gleaned a few interesting facts. The first one was the sheer size of the festival with all its plus and minus points. Tesco were obviously ready for us: stacks upon stacks of boxes of beer, cider and wine available for the festival goers to buy in bulk. Tonnes of the stuff were being wheeled back on our little trolleys to be consumed in the camping areas. While in the queue for my modest box of wine and baguette, the woman at the till asked if my companion was my daughter. Yeah, I’m blond and she’s auburn, could you see the resemblance? Cheeky cow. And ladies, a bit of advice – please, for the love of all that is holy, if you all insist on wearing identical denim shorts, buy some that fit. I do not want to see your nether regions wobbling around and there are only so many camel-toes I can stomach before midday on my way back from Tesco. Less is not always more.
Two days of camping, campfires and a bit of Ging Gang Goolie (can you believe, my younger compatriots have never seen Carry of Camping!?) and Spa arrived. Around the orange campsite, you could hear the Mexican shout wave sweep around – the most cohesive thing I heard during my time there. I started off with Half Moon Run, who were sweet enough, then Frank Turner, my main stage act of the day. The next band was the revelation of the festival: The Strypes. This four-piece are all very young, teens to early twenties, but their mix of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles and their enigmatic lead singer means I’ll be buying their album as soon as it comes out. Headliners Green Day was good but we only caught the first hour as Spa and I discovered the fun that was the Silent Disco. No speakers, just music piped to each person via wireless headphones. Outside it’s, well, silent, inside people are singing and dancing along with no concept of how much of a berk they look to the outside world. And I was chief berk as I danced around like it was 1999.
The next day was the performance I was looking forward to: Johnny Marr and he didn't disappoint. I got to see one of my musical heroes and he was brilliant, with his current songs and when he played The Smiths songs I sang along with joy. Alt-J were great and Eminem was a disappointment in badly fitting shorts. Russell Kane was comedian of the festival for me – I was literally crying with laughter when he spoke of northern men ‘going back to the shed.’ I’ll leave it at that. More silent disco and back to the campfire in the early hours of the morning to a ‘What time do you call this? We thought you were in bed asleep!’ from the younglings. Sorry dad! Ha ha!
|Orange Campsite (near me) - Monday Morning|
The last day and Spa had to leave to go back to work, damn you real world intruding on our fun! I saw Fall Out Boy at the main stage, was politely squished and roasted seeing Disclosure and finished the day off with a cocktail, Spector and was very pleasantly entertained by French indie band Phoenix with my more glamorous ‘daughter of Tesco.’ It was the end that was the most interesting though. I was relaxed, entertained and walking back to the campsite with my friends when I saw that my tent had been broken into. Forced the lock and snatched my radio – nothing else and thank God they didn't get their hands on my car keys. But I’m not going to cry about it because I wasn't the only one, other people had their tents raided as well and when I told the security staff, they were sympathetic but they treated it as an inevitability rather than what it was; a crime.
And this is where I’m going to have my rant. I had a great weekend with my friends, but there were someaspects to Reading that were just not acceptable and need challenging by the organisers rather than just seeing it as a symptom of the event. There was far too much anti-social behaviour and it needs to be tackled. The litter was reprehensible, see the above picture, tents and equipment were left behind and piles and piles of cans from those cheap beer mountains for sale in Tesco a few days earlier. Too many Domino’s Pizza boxes tossed on the floor and not enough security patrolling the camping area when they knew that the last night was the peak time for tent thefts. Profit before common sense and the end result was a site that looked like a war zone rather than the aftermath of a music festival. Festival Republic – get a grip on this and ensure the majority of the reasonable people as well as the environment are protected more thoroughly.
The Listening Post has a new cover and will soon be out in paperback. Many thanks to Ryan Ashcroft from Love Your Covers for an excellent job.
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