or Diary of a Virgin Festival Virgin
or Carter Goes Bonkers in Chelmsford
I'd been looking forward to this festival since my good friend Hedgetrimmer from my University days informed me that I was going to part with 150 quid of my hard earned and attend whether I liked it or not.
What choice did I have?
Me and the flatmate Masher set out on Friday morning for the short 140 mile jag across to Mildenhall to meet up with Hedgetrimmer and his good lady wife Tahiti, transfer our gear from the car to the camper van, stock up on massive amounts of food and booze and take a leisurely trundle down to Chelmsford.
Once on the campsite, a special posh-ish one for campervans and the like, we set up the awning and got down to the serious business of doing bugger all but eat and drink in the gorgeous mid-August sun.
A Range Rover towing a caravan pulled up and what looked like 3 died in the wool sisters of Gaia emerged. Proper fit but covered in tatts. When they were having trouble hammering stakes in to the ground for their windbreaker Tahiti suggested I help out. No chance. I was not going to offer my manly services to three man-hating, but fit, versions of Millie-Tant. Noooooo way. I like my testicles the shape they are.
Two minutes later and one of them was batting her eyelashes and asking if there was a big, strong man around to hammer in these nasty widdle pieces of wood. I confidently strode over to bludgeon the unhelpful match sticks into the deck. After successfully erecting the engineering marvel of 4 sticks and some plastic canvas and smashing my wrist three times with the rubber mallet I sulked back to the camper van with slightly less of a strut.
We drank, we ate, we listened to music and we played cards. Simple but effective entertainment for all four of us thirty something party animals.
Getting in to the venue the next afternoon was a pain in the ass as the campervan site had to share a venue with all the commoners who only had day passes. I mean really. What is the world coming to? My mood was brought even further down by having to queue for almost an hour and a half for beer tokens. Not queuing for beer but for beer tokens which then meant you had to queue for the beer itself. Not a great start but truth be told it was the only down point of the weekend.
We missed most of the Noisettes due to the beer queues but to be fair they've got one decent song and that's been played to death on the radio so I couldn't really care. Jet were the next act up on the 4Music stage and they were pretty damn good. Being Aussies I thought they might have a bit of a banter at the cricket. They didn't which was probably just as well. Jet are a very good band and they played a quality set which I enjoyed hugely along with the sun and the beer.
Dizzee Rascal was next and if you ever get a chance to see him live go. Just go. Bonkers was a particular highlight alongside some white middle age bloke saying how funny it was that the crowd was full of, and I mean 99% at least, white kids trying to sing and dance like black Londoners. "I can hear 'dem sirens comin'!" Really? All the way from Surbiton? Awesome set.
The Wombats really surprised me, I've heard their popular, mainstream hits and it's always been a nice thing to have on in the background but I was honestly taken aback. I'm pretty sure that at this point I was quite drunk. :o) It was also about this point that we made some Festival Friends in Paul, Gareth, Mandy and Imelda. They're not right in the head. They really aren't! Brilliant people and a cracking laugh.
There was quite a buzz about the place for the next band and the 4Music stage began to fill up for Pendulum as dusk fell . 35,000 people going off their nut is quite a sight to behold I can assure you but I thought they were crap. They sounded exactly the same live as they do on their albums so it wasn't a reproduction issue. I just didn't get it. Accuse me of heresy if you will, lots of people have, but I thought they were mediocre at best.
Masher and Hedgetrimmer didn’t accuse me of heresy. They just called me an idiot.
Fat Boy Slim came on. Brilliant. Just amazing the way he plays other peoples records on a record player. Again, I was the only one in the place not going crazy, I just do not get dance music. I decided at this point to head on back to the campervan and get the dinner on.
The gas bottle had run out (the camper ran on LPG gas for the cooker, fridge and hot water) but there was a spare so at midnightish armed with spanner and a maglite and as pissed as a handcart I went to resolve the issue. The connection was tighter than a Yorkshireman's wallet and I sliced my finger open after chewing the brass nut. After Hedgetrimmer had phoned Tahiti's Dad the secret to gas bottle maintenance was bestowed upon me. Gas bottles have a left hand thread. That NASCAR Engineering degree was useless in the campervan world. “Righty-tighty Lefty-Loosey” just didn’t apply. My whole belief system was stood upon it’s head, it was like seeing Stephen Hawking being levitated by Paul Daniels.
Chicken Curry sandwiches for supper. Gourmet scran I think you'll all agree.
Sunday arrived and still the weather was the best we poor Brits had seen all summer. Sunday promised to be the highlight. One of my favourite bands were headlining that night and I was anticipating greatness. After another quality fried breakfast courtesy of Hedgetrimmer and his mastery of the campervan's facilities we wound our way to the festival site to be greeted by a poxy piece of A4 paper pronouncing that "Oasis have had to cancel tonight's performance due to illness."
For the rest of the day any mention of Oasis and Liam's so called viral laryngitis was roundly booed and discredited. The fact they played the night before at Stafford and Liam stayed up until stupid o' clock on the pop was widely known and the Rock Star has Hangover headline did not impress.
Weapons grade knobhead.
We headed for the 4Music stage again because it was pretty comfy and there are two big trees that we could get some respite from the burning sun if we needed. Alicia Dixon was just finishing her set. Why the hell she was at a festival I don’t know but it provided many photo opportunities of scantily clad young ladies bopping around. Not bopping with me but near enough for me to revel in that age old English tradition of leching. Happy days.
Our festival friends from the day before re-joined us and when Katie Perry came on it was time to get excited. England had taken 5 wickets in the morning session leaving Australia requiring 300 runs over 2 days with their best batsmen gone. Masher had the DAB radio on 5Live Sports Extra and with one earpiece each we multi-tasked in the most manly way possible; Katie Perry frolicking in front of us and the final test of the Ashes 2009 in our lugholes.
With every wicket that went down fresh chants were originated from our vicinity and spread at least three rows. Sod Oasis. England had regained the Ashes and we were in party mode.
Katie Perry may be ultra fit but England winning the Ashes is something *SPECIAL* that only we very manly Englishmen and our unfortunate Aussie lady friend Mandy can appreciate. Poor girl.
We popped over to watch the Streets and all I heard was a muffled thud-thudding from the tent as me and my new Strine friend queued for bloody ages for a couple of beers. Streets missed.
Back to the 4Music stage for more dancing to whoever was on and more beer. I really can’t remember who we saw after the Streets but we got really near the front for Keane and this is how I know I was bladdered, Keane sounded really good. Everyone must have been having a good time by now as there was only a small boo when they covered ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ so yup! We were smashed.
A belting weekend enjoyed with some of the finest people I could ever wish to know.
Some expert impromptu cricket was played using electrical tape, a copy of Private Eye, a tent pole and a piece of cardboard from a Guinness multipack.
Many beers were sunk.
Some absent Mancunian assholes.
No sunburn despite epic weather.
Some pointed reminders from Masher and Hedgetrimmer that “Pub Etiquette” does not apply at Festivals. If someone barges past you, let them. If a piss-bomb hits you (you know if it’s real piss as it’s very, very warm) you cannot seek out the offender and administer some Chard justice.
Some crap music.
Some cracking music.
Hedgetrimmer, Tahiti, Masher, Mandy, Imelda, Paul and Graham. You’ve made my summer.
Hedgetrimmer has just informed me that he’s already got 8 tickets for next year. For me it really cannot come soon enough.