Having recently spent a weekend at a music festival, I have a few questions which I would like you to consider. Please feel free to write your answers on a postcard (neatly please) and then do anything you like with them as long as it is not illegal and doesn’t block the sewer. Now, the sun shone, but in the middle of a large municipal park, it was windy and cold. I was wearing my customary six layers and, if I’m honest, wishing I’d brought a seventh. I was regretting the skinny jeans only because I couldn’t wear anything underneath them. Other than pants, obviously. What kind of festival do you think it was? So, there I was, swaddled but still cold, sitting on the floor next to my wife who was wrapped in a very fetching picnic blanket, contemplating setting fire to my shoes for warmth, whilst large sections of the world milled around me in T-shirts and shorts. They did not look cold. They drank cider and chatted happily without the slightest hint of shivering and I was forced to wonder, do tattoos keep you warm? I don’t have any, because I know that my sallow dermis would flare up post-needle and my precious artwork would wind up looking like an amorphous coloured scab, but I can’t help but wonder if I might be warmer with some. Also, my beard is not long enough to plait. I wonder if that might be a factor.
We had our bags searched as we went in and we were forced to empty our water bottles as the keepers of the gate were clearly unable to discern whether they contained water, gin or vodka by smell alone and they obviously wanted us to purchase both of the latter inside. Water was, as I believe it must be, freely available inside from a single stand pipe cunningly concealed at the rear of the toilet area. I didn’t try any. Clearly the noses that could not separate water from gin could also not separate tobacco from dope because the air was so thick with it that I was transported right back to the Rolling Stones in the seventies. I think that it was encouraged because twenty thousand people with the munchies ensured that the only queues longer than those for the evil-smelling portaloos were those for the various food stalls around the place. More chips, burgers and sausages than you could shake a stick at – not that you would be allowed in with a stick unless, of course, you dressed it up as a giant joint – but my wife craved a salad. I tried to explain that she wasn’t likely to find one, but I dutifully traipsed around with her for some hours whilst she searched and, glory be, in the end she had a burger the same as everyone else. Do burgers keep you warm? No, they don’t.
There were no rows and no fights. There were huge smiles and laughter everywhere. Everybody watched the bands; stood in one another’s way; stood on one another’s feet, apologised and then did it again; smoked what by the end of the day had started to smell like old tyres; drank more pints of cider than there are apple trees; spilled more pints of ciders down trousers than there are pairs of trousers; apologised and then did it again; ate total crap and, whether dressed for the Arctic or The Bahamas, had a great weekend. Is it just that we are all overjoyed to be getting back to some kind of normal, or is it just that everybody’s been waiting the whole winter to get the tattoos back out? As things stand, they have to be cheaper than central heating.
‘…and we’re going to have a party’ (Memory of a Free Festival – David Bowie)