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February 28, 2008
It’s taken way too long to get around to imparting this next portion of my life, the end of summer into the beginning of Postgrad study so I’m going to have to make it a quick run down even though it’s been way exciting and eventful, so imagine the events imparted multiplied by about 25 to cover all of the cool stuff I forget/don’t have the time to include. This will probs be my biggest post every so I don’t expect anyone but me to trawl through it but I’ll add as many pics as I can find to break it up. Also it only really reaches the start of uni in October:
So when I got back from France it was pretty swift before my cousin Tom, his friend Hugh and a French kid of about the same age were due to come over to stay. I went to pick up Billy from the Eurostar on the Friday afternoon, well 12ish; which is still morning to a lay-about like me. I took him home and initiated him into the hell that is the Oyster Card. Then I decided that the best thing to do for my cousin, his friend and this French fellow was to settle them down in front of a badass studio Ghibli movie: Castle in the Sky, which had the benefit of French subtitles. I was supposed to be educating this kid in English was I not? But it turned out that he wasn’t really interested and neither were Tom and Hugh. I also set out the Dreamcast in case that was more to their liking so Hugh and Tom played that into the night whereas I think Billy wanted to just go to bed and play on his phone and perhaps do a little reading (they all thought the film was too childish!! The fools!).
Planet Angel 10th August
That evening Becky and I went to Planet Angel which was as amazing as ever; we met some awesome new people and caught up with some of our Planet family. I left the Planet Angel website open so that Tom could check out the evening on the webcam but I doubt he saw us as we spent most of the mild evening in the garden, chilling massaging, drinking tea and watching poi. It was also cool to catch up with Will Mitchell and co. When we got home I said good morning to Gaia and laid out some breakfast for the kids.
We stocked up on food, and I took Billy to K-stores taking the time to explain to him the travel situation and pausing to check out the giant squash that was growing on our street. On the Saturday we chilled out and prepared stuff for the BBQ we planned to have, which was timed so that Billy and Tom etc could get a chance to hang out with various members of the London posse as they had been cruelly denied that chance on the Friday. We sadly missed a sunny hangout on the Thames beach which Foxy and the guys were at, but we were too whacked and we had to get coal in and prepare salads. Big style.
This was a frankly fantastic BBQ, I borrowed next doors flat BBQ and stoked up the chimenea. Loads of people came down for it, the Liverpool St & Ricky posse, the Film Folks, Nadders and his little bro Hamim, the delightful Gladers all made it along later in the evening (they’re evening people), Sylv (pictured) and a French friend of hers, Toby and a French mate of his who I’d met in Serville previously called Vianney. A couple of uni peeps made it over as well as Nathan and even Becky's sisters made it down and Maddy stayed for a few days after, and we hit the Tate en masse.
Everyone ate bountiful meats salads, played table tennis, imbibed, all to a relaxed playlist coming out of a speaker pointed out of the door. Rip-roaring good fun! There were lots of cool creative and simply lovely people. It didn’t cost a bomb and Becky put on the most amazing salad spread (my fave was tomato and buffalo tomato which we sneakily bought from fresh and wild).
9 black alps
One morning I was listening to XFM, they had a competition to see 9 Black Alps at La Scala, I entered, won, called James Howard, went along with him, it was quite fun, we left before it finished as the music was mediocre and had a nice beer and a catch up in the pub on platform 9 of kings cross station. Nice evening all in all and I was glad to get to check out La Scala as a venue.
Just before we went to Reading Becky was intent on dreading her hair so we sat down for a day at hers and I divided, backcombed, handrolled and waxed from around 12 noon until around 1 in the morning stopping only for 2 hours for a slap-up Daddy Allen lunch. I assume we visited the Inn too on another night. Billy headed home as we left for…
Reading 24th-27th Aug
This was another great festival to finish off a summer of great, mental festivals. We were working a beer tent with the workers beer company for Campaign Against the Arms Trade. We took our tent and a train, when we arrived at Reading station we asked directions to the festival and then proceeded to get lost, having been confused by the fact we weren’t going to the main entrance. We took a cab the last little bit of the walk as we were lost and carrying a lot of stuffs. We got in and had our photos taken for staff cards then we went off to meet the Harpenden crew in a nearby campsite (which was convenient when we had to go and meet our group, have a briefing or use the superb ruby-ground facilities).
The group were all sitting in a circle knocking back tinnies when we arrived and they had saved us a primo location by the walkway. It was just perfect. I spent as much time as I could being FireMan! I love stoking a good fire and providing people with warmth and light and a fantastic central focal point over which to have banter. Everyone was on top form and it was great to meet another Harpo-Mentalist: Niel. The first night we went down to the action aid tent and had a pics taken with plates (good to get some politics in there from the off, serious faces:on) and we danced a little bit with the early birds. They even played the Doctor Who theme-tune Orbital mix! Every time I hear it I think it’s playing just for me (and everyone else in earshot).
Working the bars was great, the people we were working with were all great interesting people and the shifts were 3 manageable 6 hour blocks. The punters were all good and chatty and it never really got too busy. The supervisors were safe, allowing me to hang back when it got quiet to juggle lemons or what have you and mixing up a shitload of pure lemonade for us despite doing a 12 hour shift. I particularly enjoyed operating the pouring machine which filled 12 cups at a time with either Carling or Strongbow rather than having to deal with maths stuffs. There were some amazing people, just a feast for the eyes and we got chatting to a lovely Scottish guy who works in the indie music industry and was trying to get Becky to audition for a presenting job. We also got taken to one of the indoor bars for a bit after our tent closed and that was pretty fun too, a different slightly less shambolic clientele and a slightly larger range of bevies I think.
In contrast to Glade the second day of the festival was a really sunny affair. And hot to boot, somehow too hot. This day Becky grabbed a bag of smart clothes, tied her dreads back and went off to a Mormon Wedding in Reading!! I took the opportunity to go for a wander and happened upon Ed Byrne doing a really great comedy set and I wandered though the campsites observing all of the gathered characters and snatches of hilarious conversations. Becky came back reporting one of the weirdest experiences ever and we got right back on it!
Music wise it was rocking and we were really lucky to be in the tent that was right next to the tent that I wanted to see most stuff on: the Radio 1/NME stage, although the acoustics weren’t great from tent to tent. I’m sure it was a more of a chilled vibe than the one over by the main stage. Top music the first day/night was provided by Ash, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly and the Kings of Leon. The second day/night The Eagles of Death Metal were cool on the mainstage during the day and we worked late so missed Red Hot Chilli Peppers which was lucky cos apparently they were crapish. The third day/night was a highlight. From our workstation we could hear The Cold War Kids followed by The Maccabees, followed by Jamie T followed by Devendre Banhart followed by LCD Sound System. We then got off work and got some snacks and when I say some snacks I mean SOME Snacks! We had amazing vegi pakoras and noodles and stuff for less than a fiver. It was so delicious but so portionous that when we finished we had enough to offer some hungry looking young boys sitting to one side who were wholly grateful for the nutrition. Then CSS were on, there right in front of us! I’d been waiting for this since seeing them in Serbia at EXIT. It rocked, so much fun, grooving down with Becky, it was just way sexy.
Then we headed over to the main stage, caught the end of NIN and regrouped for The Smashing Pumpkins which were more than smashing! They were truly touching and astounding at creating an intimate experience with a crowd of thousands. Also the lightshow was the best I’ve ever seen. It blew the one Muse had last year out of the water.
It was a great evening. We carried on partying all night, kept the fire going and went for a walk to observe the carnage which was significant. We met one girl by the toilets who had fallen over so I helped her up and proceeded to give her advice on how to make her dreads better (cos they were pretty shit and I’m now expert no.1). By another set of long drop toilets there was a huge mud pile with hormonal 14 year old boys jumping up and down on it screaming primally and fighting each other to be king of the castle, no one was going to take their mudpile away from them. The really weird thing wasn’t that these boys, who were obviously just desperate to get laid, were being so brutish and pointlessly competing to scale a pile of mud but that people would stand around and watch them! So when in the toilet I decided to compete with them in terms of noise. So I bashed out the beat of the doctor who theme tune on the metal side of the toilets: Dum du Dum Dum du Dum Diddly Dum and then hollered the Woooo Eee OOoo part, I also hoped it would confuse the little tykes and maybe wake them from their push and shove reverie.
At about 4 when the sun had begun to come around again Becky suggested that we just hold out and try and make it home without sleep before the tent carnage begun and everyone was on the move. This seemed wise, so we decamped, said our confused morning goodbyes and hopped on a train, which was a fun as it could be considering. We got home well before noon and hit the hay.
On the 28th I did a bit of work with my good mate Ben Mason shifting boxes and furniture and taking photos and doing an inventory of radiators that were for sale for a family friend Rebecca. It was a really nice house in the middle of Shoreditch. And a really nice day for it.
Lake district 31st August – 2nd September
This had been on the cards for a while so I was delighted to be able to fit this into this already really fit summer of antics. Nadders arrived at my door to pick me up. He had with him the James’ Ranger and MacKinnon. We went up to Brent cross and met Tom and the James Spillard who was driving a larger vehicle (a nice long volvo) we stocked up in the nearby Sainsburys, and Mackindo and I went into Toys R Us where I got a doc who action figure and a big box of bubble tubs, he bought a frisbee and then we headed up to the Lake District. It was a fun drive, good tunes, and nice chat, tho I did go a little anti social and did do a bit of reading. We arrived and went up a small walk up a hill, and along a really pretty path. We then found a place to camp for the night, we set up the huge tent that the boys had rented and we got on to cooking up some lovely sausages etc.
The next morning we decamped, left our stuff in the car and embarked on our trek. We went up a huge hill, and across a little connecty bit called the razors edge. It was well steep by easily scaleable. We got to the top and it was really cloudy so we couldn’t see too much. We had some army issue grub and followed the Sandhurst cadet Ranger down the hill the other side. Only when we were half way down did he say the immortal line “This compass is pointing in the wrong direction”. Classic! Tom and I had been arguing over the Iraq war all the way down and were beginning to reach some consensus so we knew we had a long way to walk back up. It was really tiring as we had done some hill running on the way down so it was a long way, but beautiful none the less. When we got back to the top it was a lot clearer so that was one advantage but it was way cold. Oh and I had a poo on the hill near a pile of stones that looked a little like a makeshift grave. Ranger kindly lent me a really nice warm jacket to put over my day wear. Oh and I think it was Nadders that dropped the map over the edge, they shimmied down to get it and then we headed back down the other side. We were totally knackered by this point but had a long way to go. MacKinnon was having some issues with his vertigo on the way down as this was a more perilous climb than the steps we had been running down the other side.
When we reached the campsite it was a frigging relief. We drove back to Mackinnon’s, dumped our stuff and went off to a pub run by mates of Mackinnon’s and we had delicious steak and ales to ease our weary limbs. Alesfor what ails you.
When we got back to Big Mack’s we watched a bit of James Bond, I cooked the popcorn I had brought along and then we sunk into bed. I got up early the next day so decided to whack on a doc who vid James had lying around; “Caves of Androzani”. I watched 3 episodes then everyone got up and we watched music videos while we packed up. We set off home and stopped in Morrisons to say our farewells and ate a cooked breakfast.
It was a great Old Boys get together with all the trimmings and gay banter.
On the 6th of September Joel came around to hang out which was lovely as did Jen Thomas and Emily Thompson. A nice wee gathering indeed
Acid Jam - Saturday the 8th of September
This was a really cool event, put on by a core of people that’s gathered around a lovely chap, Ed Saperia. I grabbed some newspaper and some empty jars to use for painting and headed off to the Synergy Centre near JW’s in Oval. It was a safe day, the was a wicked Jam throughout, juggling, diablo, glowstick sculpture, lovely hot veggie food, painting and drawing, a huge variety of people to get chatting to and to play with.
I read some poetry and got some cool feedback and did some improvised singing which was really fun. Foxy and Jordan were there from the Ricky Crew which was ace. A bunch of the lovely Glade peeps made it down later, and Karim, JW & Verity were all there with so many cool new people too. It was a really good thing, and banter to the max. A great reason to go to the Synergy centre for the first time. I was there from about midday until about 4 the next morning When Karim, JW and I retired to his to crash. There were great chats about life, politics, LARPing, social software and much more besides.
Becky had her teeth out in Golders Green on the 11th of September so I went along to hold her hand. And she had just finished up working at the theatrical agents; Jane Larah’s. It was great to have her over for the period she was working there, it was nice to have the run of the house and use it as a base of operations between festivals and socialising.
We went up to Coventry to meet Matt and Lucy and go house hunting in Coventry on the 13th of September. We had a list but ignored it really and just walked into Student Homes. They said they had a place that sounded ideal but the landlord hadn’t dropped round the key but we asked if they could give him a call and he just happened to be in. So we went to check it out and really liked it. We haggled him down on the price a bit and then signed on the dotted there and then. I was especially excited to be so close to Clive’s Comic book store, but sadly he closed down the shop just as we arrived, removing the highlight of Earlsdon colour/culture. But we do live right opposite this old school looking butchers!
I went to see Verity’s play Left Luggage at the Shunt Vaults it was brilliant promenade puppet theatre, really well done and nicely polished without losing any charm. It was in fact one of the most charming performances I’ve seen in ages.
On the 23rd of September I went with JW and his friend Marcus to see a comedy event called A Seriously Funny Attempt to get the Serious Fraud Office in the Dock. Which was an event raising money and awareness about the closure of the corruption inquiry into BAE’s dealings with the Saudi Royal Family. It was a brilliant event for a brilliant cause. The amazing line up was thus:
Jo Caulfield (MC)
Phil Nichol (MC.2)
And a surprise appearance by Bill Bailey!
It was the bomb, if you’ll excuse the weaponry reference. A great night, it was like a whole comedy festival crammed together into one night. There was also a great speech by a member of Corner House who are pursuing the action and when we left JW and I took posters down and knicked a running order. I decided that despite the light drizzle I’d try and get an autograph so I said to JW the first person who comes by then we’ll go. Simon Amstell went by too swiftly in a cab but Bill Bailey pulled up and started doing a few signings out of the window of his car so I got him to put himself onto the running order on which he was missing (as he was a surprise duh!). It was amazing, I garbled some fan love and he had a dog in the back of his car! And he drove off into the London night with his hair blowing behind him in the wind! His act got me so psyched as I had booked tickets to see his stadium show Tinsel Worm in Manchester.
Somewhere before heading back up to Uni I managed also to squeeze in a really fun game of poker at Fred’s in Harrow. It was great with Chinzano’s on ice, I only lost a tenner and it was a fun game that I would have got further in without making some really dumb mistakes. James was there, as was Rob (another of my hall mates from the first year of uni) as well as Ben and a clutch of Fred’s nearest and dearest. Lovely lovely lovely. On the way back I carried the hat stand that had been adorning Fred’s hallway since he came back from Leamington. It was unwieldy but not too difficult to commute with. I also managed to make it to Camden to see Toby, Jamie and Harv for a wee pub lunch. I had soup, it was still sunny, everyone was lovely.
Also I got to see Debbie and baby Rosh a fair few times over the summer which was great, despite Roshi's huge lung capacity:
November 20, 2007
Ooh now this was fun to the power of mad. Karim and I headed out from Paddington with giant, carnival, lightup beanpoles under our arms and we met another Glader before even getting to the platform for the train to a secret location in Newbury. We hung around for a wee while before getting on a red double-decker bus with some other Oxfam fellows. It was a funky bus ride, the skies were clear & blue (!!!) and there was a drum and a sax with proficient people attached to them providing a perfect soundtrack to the journey into what was to be our home for the next few days.
We set up camp in the Oxfam site, which was just a wee walk away from the main arena. They had a great diner called the knifey-spoony which became the common room during the rain disasters. The day we arrived the sun was shining and the sky was blue. We set up camp where we found some smiley young people and some space that looked like it was being saved especially for us (next to a little stream). The smiley people turned out to be smiley, friendly, fun, amazing people, namely; Joel, Yara, India Hannah and some other lovely fellows.
We all went for a wander around the quite magical site (it’s quite a small festival, relatively) we contemplated climbing a tree, looked at the shapes in the surprisingly small clouds and I found some wire which I thought would be good for some fun sculpture, which became a sculpture that I wore as part of my headdress for the duration of the festival, it was simultaneously ridiculous and awe-inspiring if you ask my opinion. It also came in handy for giving directions as it was basically a bouncy gauge and arrows on a spring that floated above me and helped people spot me from a distance.
We were camping next to the Knifey Spoony which was excellent for convenience but there was 24 hour music blasting from it, which wasn’t so bad until a full ABBA album came on twice in a row to flip you out. On the first day I woke up and sleepily thought I’d take the day on in a bumbling unaware kind of way (my usual operating default) but the Knifey Spoony played the Orbital remix of the Doctor Who theme tune, so I threw on my boots and I was in there within the first 2 bars! It was great as it may be the only place on earth where dancing full-pelt before breakfast isn’t seen as strange at all. A great start to a great festival.
We worked pretty hard and on the night before the festival I helped put up giant inflatable lights inside the Knifey Spoony which was good as we spent the night in there huddled on the big cushions in the corner as it was raining so hard that even the short walk back to the tent seemed like too arduous an endeavour to contemplate. Then there was the worry that when we got there our tents would be flooded anyway. We packed a bag each of valuables and Karim kindly packed our sleeping stuff into bin bags as everyone worried that the river to the side of us was going to burst it’s banks as it had some 3 meters further down stream of where we were. The Knifey Spooney didn’t survive too well what with everyone traipsing in and out but we had hot water on tap (except when one pillock unplugged the boiling vats to charge their phone). One hairy moment came when I was holding a ladder for the guy who was running the diner who had put this massive ladder up against the roof strut to hang netting to prettify the place, but he hadn’t secured the end properly so the top came out and from over half way up he came flying down luckily missing metal poles, tables and chairs and rolled safely onto the soft ground a big guy who was helping out caught the ladder from underneath and helped steady this manic descent and stop the ladder crashing into people who were coming in and out. But luckily everyone was ok and we had proved once and for all that it could have been unlucky to walk under ladders.
I did my usual and spent a fair bit of time blowing bubbles but was unable to mix a satisfactory bubble mix from their ecologic washing liquid.
One of the people who camped in our little village who we met in Paddington was called Sarah. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately considering the weather conditions) she felt ill and left before the first proper day. She left us a lovely note and texted us to see how we were after new of the weather spread but in my stupor I didn’t realise it was from her. On the train in we also made pals with a girl called Katy who was also a fan of Planet Angel and who had recently shorn off her dreadlocks and now had a reasonably cold head, but it still looked cool. I mentioned how I had been trying to persuade Becky to shave her head and how her bonce proved to me how viable a look it really is.
After a bit of fire safety training and a wee chat from the OXbox team Karim and mine’s first shift was on the first afternoon and we were to point people in the direction of one campsite or another or in the direction of the campsite. We were pretty clueless as we hadn’t fully got to grips with the lay of the land and it looked like one of the roads was going to need sealing off. It was fun tho and intermittently sunny. A lot of people were hiking through flooded villages and airforce bases with all their tents and clobber about their persons to reach the festival and always looked particularly depressed as we directed them towards a gate to get wristbands that was another quarter of an hour away on foot. But it was pleasant and we went back to camp for a wee chill and to prep for the night ahead when our shift finished.
And by the night it was good banter time! Mud abounded, I was astounded. And I didn’t fall over once! Yay! The Dunkirk spirit was alive and well. The best place for chilling and dancing that Karim and I found was a chai walla’s. It was funking all over the place and sadly the ID Spiral was a slippy, ill-lit hill, so we didn’t hang around there too long.
And so it went, we watched the skies for signs of reprieve, we got into quandaries as to whether to encourage Will, Em and Foxy to join us as we were getting minute by minute reports of site closure over our radios. We relied on cups of tea to keep going and the fantastic atmosphere and smiley people to buoy our spirits. One highlight was figuring that there was a plug point that wasn't being used so i asked the guy who ran the Knifeyspoony for a multiplug and i hooked it up, felt like a hero and had my phone back online!
The guys decided to come despite work and the weather which was great! I’m glad they didn’t scrap their tickets and they had a really good time raving it up in this oh so unusual of raving environments.
Our shifts were 8 hours long, which was a bit of a shitter. My second shift started out well, just stewarding a massive tent with very few people in it, bubbles coming out every so often and a VJ making nice visuals; so for the first few hours I was grooving away with my hat on. But as the day went on it became bussier and rainier and we were at the bottom of a hill, thus at the foot of a mudslide, which was made psychologically nasty by the fact we were down stream of a bunch of porta-loos. One delightfully had the helpful hint: “Get involved, or Fuck off” written in mud, later the one next to it had they handy rhyme; “Up the Bum; No Harm Done” written in a similar style.
So as people were filing down the hill for an evening’s music and frolics they were taking a lot of mud down with them. So we were advised to keep people from using the most convenient door, but we had to keep it open as it was a fire exit. This was HARD! We build a little sluice gate to re-channel the mud around to the back of the stage and a fair few people ignored my pleas and airport landing style hand instructions. I tried putting up some duct tape to indicate the doors closure but that proved too ignorable. One fellow even accused me of getting off on the power of the situation, which was a bit of a nonsense as it was a power I would have given up in an instant had someone wanted to replace me or if I thought the mud would be better for everyone in than out. Lots of people were smiley enough when I explained the situation and pointed out the brown river and the special circumstances. Foxy was particularly sympathetic and the guys were around for moral support. Later a security guy came around and relieved me for a bit while I pushed the mud around with my feet to clear the sluice. My goretex boots were no match for the above ankle height mud. As I was slushing the mud about I realised there were lots of electric cables sitting in mud and around dripping tent-flaps. I couldn’t get the scene from the start of the film “King Ralph” starring John Goodman out of my mind and I saw everyone getting electrocuted in my minds eye.
At this point came my vision of 2 potential Al’s. One was this security guard and one was a tie-dyed shirt wearing dancer. Both guys had similar physical characteristics to me. Blonde & tallish. The guard had dreadlocks and the dancer had longish hair and a goatee. But they were, in my exhausted mind, opposite ends of a potentiality spectrum. I felt I was staring at a physical manifestation of my choices I could be a quite scary, tall, loud authority figure (he was a nice enough guy but he also had these attributes) or a fun loving (potentially off his head) observer of a rubbish situation, unable/unwilling to pitch in and help, just watching it unfold and oddly dancing by himself in a muddy field. The guard also had some nasty facial burns which haunted me as I sloshed through the mud staring at the cables hanging in the mud.
In the end I decided that I was treading a happy medium and being true to myself, helping where I could and making the most of it as I did, raising my concerns with those who could do something about it and taking on tasks that I felt I could help directly with. In the end they were just 2 more of the multifarious nice people I met briefly over the weekend and they were just good fodder for my overactive mind to chew over. The last act of that shift ,which took a lot out of me, was sliding over to the back of the tent to lift a piece of redundant pathway, with the help of some nice people in a tent who had a knife and a bunch of randoms who helped me move the heavy bugger, up the hill a wee ways. We used it as a better sluice and people blocker, as my shift ended I let out the biggest sigh and went for a wee snack, recupperation and to meet up with the guys back at the camp. I didn't have long until my next shift which I had to cram in before I headed off.
It was another shift was fun as Karim and I were together again and we brought some sneaky beers and glowsticks and were in a quiet little ally quite late at night. Joel and the gals from our little village bopped down with us and we hung out for a wee bit and had some snacks in the style of a 7 year olds birthday (except with sneaky beers). Karim and I had the same supervisor a couple of times called Joe who was a pretty laid back chatty guy. Forever smiling and yet he looked proper whacked most of the time. Our 8 hour shifts were nothing on the 12+ hours they were working. He came along and hung out with us for a little bit. Then the guys dissapated and Karim and I decided to line a dark pathway we were stewarding with the glowsticks. It looked very pretty and we even tied two sticks together and threw them back and forth between us until they got caught on the branch of a tree so that they looked like a glowstick chandelier. People loved our pathway and through the night the sticks hanging down the side of this leafy path were taken by other lovely party people, all except from the ones hanging from the canope. Later I sat down and did some reading (I'd brought Charles Handy The Empty Raincoat, which was an ironic title to be reading at this festival) and dosed as people passed returning to bed.
Before I left I put a scary fairy I made with twigs and such on one shift in Joel and Yara's tent as a farewell present. I hope they appreciated it. ;o)
My journey home was tricky, Karim and I packed up the tent as I had to leave a day early for another one day turn around to go to Portugal (as the flight was riddico-a-clock on the Monday). Karim went and stayed with the other guys on the main camp. And I said my goodbyes and trudged off down the hill towards where I heard buses were leaving from (it was such a round about way of getting on a bus) and I decided that as my boots were mud filled it would be best to wear my sandals. Wrong, they acted like flippers and squelched into the mud and got sucked off my feet several times, leaving me to flounder with my rucksack, on one leg trying to pull it out of the thick thick mud. I had to go bare foot for some of the way out of pure dersperation, a method of travelling festival grounds I usually frown upon. When I got to the bus I had a chance to rinse my feet off and roll down my trousers and suddenly I didn’t feel quite so grimy. I even went so far as putting on some socks under my sandals when they had dried off a bit.
It was a fairly pleasant ride home and I was filled with a warm glow of a weekend well spent, making friends and partying with friends old and new and strangers and hard graft and biblical rain and sunshine and smiles and hot food and team work and cups of tea. Nothing better!
p.s. check out his video to see how ridiculous the rain really was:
October 09, 2007
Serbia as I’ve been telling everyone was mental. I cannot believe we fit in so much adventure and madness into one week. I made good new friends and solidified old friendships. I flew out on my own and met the guys in Budapest airport where they have a flower dispenser like we would have a coke machine. Also I had a stop over in Milan and ate a pizza slice, when in Rome as they say.
Ben and I went straight to Fred’s and the others came with us on the train from Budapest (where it was raining a shitstorm) but went on for a night in Belgrade, I lost my ticket between the ticket office and the platform when we ran for no good reason. We piled onto the train, shoving anyone who stood in the way only to give up and run further along the train when we realised they were extending the train. It was a quiet night’s travelling and Ben the asthmatic smoker revelled in the smoking carriage and made new pals and we watched some doctor who on my media player. When the guards came around (which happened twice)
That first day and night at Fred’s were lovely, not so sunny but we watched News Knight with Trevor McDonald (Fred having been bereft of English TV for a while) and in the evening we chilled with one of Fred’s cousins (Bobbie) and one of his friends and played pool for hours which was great stuff indeed. We also had some lovely Burgers from "UFO Burger".
On my birthday we got up earlyish and the boys went out into town as I slept a little longer and they came back with a delightful selection of tat from a Chinese import shop including a vicious looking set of nun-chucks, 2 bbguns with laser sights, wee plastic army soldiers (good for shooting with the guns, I was later told shooting friends wasn’t the done thing), a great LED torch, spinning tops, a camouflage cowboy hat, a teddy-bear that sings the most terrifying ditty you could imagine when you attempt to move it, and all kinds of good stuff. The day was very chilled out and Fred’s cousin Robbie came around and cooked up the most delicious Goulash (spelt in Hungarian: székelygulyás) over on open fire and all of Fred’s cousins and local friends came round and we had such a great party. I almost slipped at the first hurdle in attempting to bring up both politics and religion having consumed more (delicious) homemade shnapps than I’ve ever seen before. As the words came out of my mouth I realised that it could be dangerous to ask “so this is a catholic country, you’re catholic, but do you believe the pope talks with god?”. Fortunately the youth of the lovely Hungarian minority village Temerin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temerin) seemed to be clued into the fact that many of these beliefs were socially constructed, Fred’s cousin replied “No I’m just catholic because my parents are” which made me think, I’m liberal, atheist because my parents are, and because I’ve never been presented with a seemingly better alternative.
The boys all arrived from Belgrade later in the night and got stuck into the food and shnapps. James Howard was particularly eager and before he even said hello or happy birthday was working on catching up and he steadily became more and more inebriated, perhaps he hadn’t had enough goulash. Before I had really had a chance to finish my goulash out came cake, and Toby and James Almuli and a Hungarian fellow who I thought looked a fair bit like Warwick’s own Pip Woolly were trying to force me to eat cake goulash and shnapps at the same time, so with the sting of shnapps, a corner of trotter and creamy cake in my mouth I knew I was destined to chunder, which I did later, into a bowl.
The end of the night was a messy affair with one of our number apparently peeing in the corner of a room (granted a room with no door) and I chased James Almuli into the room with all the mattresses on the floor only to find him attempting to teabag the paralytic James Howard and after shouting a warning along the lines of “Leave him alone or I’ll kick you in the balls, I’ll stamp on your nuts” I went on to stamp on James’ head which enraged the drunken beast.
The next day there was a flurry of hangovers and watermelon (man the local produce was the best ever! The tomatoes tasted like tomatoes should). The bulk of the group went with Fred and his family to meet the dignitaries of the town while Ben and I stayed at home to make sure James was ok (and to have a nap in a real bed). We woke to a telephone call telling us that we must come urgently, this call we managed to ignore twice but on the third we were informed that they were sending big Paulie (Bobbie’s dad) in a car for us. When we arrived we saw the most amazing sight. A packed trestle table in the middle of a traditional restaurant surrounded by the various members of our party, drinking local shnapps and generally enjoying the frivolity of the day and the hospitality of the local big-wigs. We were with Fred’s relatives the mayor an interviewer from the local paper, big names in the courts and shnapps factory. Total excitement. We went outside to have a group photo taken for the paper and when we returned we were presented with massive platters of meat on to of chips and local salad-stuffs, more shnapps and speeches by the mayor and one in return (translated by our language monkey Fred) by Ben, extolling the unexpected and wholly welcome generosity.
Then later that day we headed by bus to the festival itself in Novi Sad. My god was it unlike anything else. Before we headed in we took in the exterior of this massive 17th century fort on a hill (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrovaradin_fortress) and I for the only time during the weekend caught up with my pal Simon Bennet, we met only for a moment before we laid siege to the fort in our separate groups. As we approached we saw what was going on. There were thousands of people trying to get in through a gap a person and a half wide. It was a crush of epic proportions. A bundle if you will, everyone was trying to get in for Prodigy and no one was checking tickets or passports and women were being elbowed, people were trying to stay with or find other people. Cars sat stationary trying to get through (one may have been an ambulance) pumping exhaust fumes into the immobile crowd. Toby was having no fun and no air as he was below average shoulder/elbow height, we attempted as best we could to form a Roman style tortoise shield around him but it had little effect. At one point my hand got caught between the two people in front of me and in one terrifying surge I was dragged forward by the wrist my feet almost off the ground. We basically fell up the hill as the local police/security looked on mildly amused/bemused by the whole affair. I had decided that today would be a good day (as it was warm) to wear sandals. I may have been mistaken.
When we got in we moved (as a masse) almost straight away into the main arena and after a few minutes Prodigy started. We decided if you can’t beat the crowd join them, and mosh and that way you get to beat them, as it were. We rocked out pretty hard to all the classics.
http://danandmoni.com/?p=12 <- Copy and paste this for a link to video from the Prodigy gig
They slowed it down every 6 minutes or so which allowed the crowd to find their feet again and throughout we were all parched having been unable to get to a bar or sort out the deal with the coupon system. We begged water of people around us and some were kind enough to send us sips of beer. Ben drank some water that the offerer said was acid and towards the end of the gig he began feeling pretty sketchy. His lips began burning and we had no water so after we went to sit down as the throngs filed out. We felt totally lost and the lighting was bad, we eventually found some water and Fred and Ben went back by taxi. The rest of us took in the full extent of the event ending up in the main dance arena (which was reminiscent of a gladiatorial arena) which was to become our staple stomping grounds. We hung out with some of the guys from Temerin and after the night we headed over the river and chilled for a bit on the beach on the Danube by the campsite. A lovely spot. We heard rumours of 2 deaths in the crush at Prodigy but I have yet to have this substantiated and have searched online to find out if that was true. Hey ho I may never know.
After that the days and nights begin blurring into a massive adrenalin fuelled banter session. When we got back all of the designated sleeping rooms were more or less occupied by smelly boys so I decided to crash out outside in the sun in my sleeping bag. When I woke up Fred’s mum had arrived with some builders who had been booked to fix doors to all the rooms. I waved and rolled over. We had been invited to a shnapps factory before midday but that was very unlikely and unappealing. It was said that the tradition was that men would have a shot of the stuff before commencing with the day so I expect it was to test our manlihoods but how could that be in question when you looked at us. Especially the red-blooded Andrew Shaw. I put this theory to the test one of the later days as Big Paulie was trying to ply me with an unmarked bottle of the stuff. I challenged him to drink it and when he pleaded hospitality I tasted it and then forced him to tasted it by enquiring what fruit was used to make it. He then bumbled off on his little motorbike (which he drove into the wee courtyard like a mix between a hells angel and a clown on a diddy-bike). One of the things I learned about Serbia was that when driving there is no need for the two S’s: Seatbelts and Sobriety.
Also Serbian love taking photos of ethnic people, in our party Deji got so many photos taken of him and did nothing to deter the novelty hunters by dressing as Nu-Rave as they come; with de-glow sunglasses, a girl; Nana, joined our merry band by the speakers to the right of the stage also got snapped to death which led to what I consider an hilarious story involving a mashed football-loving Serbian and the translation of this well know adage/poem:
Find a penny
Pick it up
And all day
You’ll have good luck.
Give a penny
To a friend
And your luck
Will never end.
If you want the long and boring version of the story just ask.
One day as we went to go into the fortress I stopped and started chatting to some local Serbian guys who were wanting to break in. I was going to try and help them but then thought about the horror stories of the security mistreating the tourists and even worse the locals so I chickened out. After I got in I caught up with Toby and he reassured me that it might be banter to give it a go. So I went back out and tried to track down my potential accomplices. The deal was that after having left there was no re-entry. I went around the side and scoped the scene, I followed some guys who said they had done it previously, we got caught in brambles and scurried through cornfields and came up to the wall that was lit from one side so that the security standing on point could see people attempting to scale this massive wall to get up to a small fence. At the end of this bank was an exit that came out behind the entrance gates so I walked out as if going out then I sat down to send a text got up as a car drove past and went in. I wasn’t able to meet the guys I had been chatting to but the guys said they’d meet me afterward. When I came out (before the London guys had stopped dancing) I met the 2 guys Alex and Slyer and went on a mini tour of Novi Sad I was hankering for an ice tea. We chatted about politics, the disparity between the affluence and the poverty, the drug problem in the city, the history of EXIT festival and how it is now, the police, literature, graphic novels, shamanism and the karma of the Danube. They were very interesting and bucked every stereotype and prejudice of the Serbians that I had been exposed to gradually over my visit. The issues surrounding race were so overt and interesting, for example the Serbians at the festival kept photographing the black people there, elephant man style, the Hungarian TV that came to Fred’s to interview us asked outright if we were able to wake the black member of our party (not to interview him you understand, well he was in his pants but weird right?). Also a member of our party was part Serbian and apparently had a chilly reception from the Hungarians (granted I tried to kick him in the nuts but that was behaviour not race related). When I mentioned my new Serbian friends Fred’s mum surprised me by saying that they hated the Serbs. I understood that there is a lot of history there I didn’t know fully (not for lack of trying to understand) and that she and her family and community were directly affected by these huge political upheavals. But I pointedly said that she couldn’t hate all of the Serbs, she couldn’t hate the children; to which she responded that really she only hated their politicians, which I was happy to report was also the case for the Serbs I had met. They even told me of the massacre of Serbs in the frozen Danube during which many Hungarians risked their lives trying to save Serbs to whom they owed nothing. These were great guys, meeting young people from other cultures really made the trip for me. I hope to stay in contact with them over Skype etc.
Then came Goulash day mark 2: Fish
We all got on rented/borrowed minibuses and drove down to an offshoot of the Danube (I was in a car with Robbie his mate, Fred and Ben) it was hot and we napped on the way. When we got there the whole gang was there and there were tons of people cooking up mean goulash. It was sunny as and we all went for a little swim. I did some showing off and learned the word for a dive: “firash” or maybe they were taking the piss and that means splash. I also swam across this river which was quite wide with a rather strong current, I chased Ben and Rich who swam ahead. Once we got to the other side we had to go back up stream so as no to go too far down stream on our return. I chose to walk along the bank and the others splooshed through the silty water. I found an amazing walking staff and some logs that were rotting and hollow which made excellent floats to make the swim back less hassle. On the return leg I was worried about Ben as he’s an asthmatic smoker but he made it across alright.
The fish goulash was lovely and quite spicey, I invented a new drink; shnapps and ice tea which as I was loathe to finish it (that stuff is strong) I forced everyone to try, it became a game of have a sip pass it round.
I also offended one of our hosts by telling the only Scottish joke I know (I was prompted by the fact that every week their local newspaper makes jokes about our thrift) which ends by insulting lawyers (in fact saying that all lawyers go to hell) not realising that one of our uber generous hosts was a local lawyer. All the young’uns were banter, really happy to try hard to understand my mile a minute English, and all the girls were hotties.
Talking of hotties, after we got back from one night of debauchery that ended with us dancing heartily in the petrovian fortress as the sun came up and sweltering on the beach by the Danube we got back to the little farm house Fred’s mum was so kindly putting us up in and Robbie’s dad Paul was there and he enticed Jamie, Toby and myself to go to the swimming pool which had a natural warm bath in it, miming as we went it that it was the best place to shark on the local tottie. It was really nice and as it was hot it was full of local colour and life. We bumbled around in the pool and chilled in the warm bath then slept on the grass until chucking out and went back for more festivaling.
Another day when we got home Fred’s mum asked if Toby and I were hungry and said we should go to the local restaurant which we did, she helped us order and then left us to chat about the night before, how knackering and mental it all was and to eat fine soup and delicious lunch and rehydrate.
Saying good bye was quite an emotional affair, I made a card for Fred’s mum who couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful, a few of the young’un came over and wished us well on our way as we all ran around like unprepared headless chickens getting our stuff packed up. I gave Paul a straw cowboy hat that the guys gave me for my birthday as I thought it would look cool on him as he cruised Temerin in his undersized motorbike and I gave Eniko my walking staff to look after as I really had wanted to take it home with me and couldn’t bear thinking that it would become firewood. We named it Sandy and I suggested that if someone attacked her she could wield it to defend herself. We bopped into a taxi and left for our final night. We got into a Taxi with the nicest guy who chatted to us all the way about life etc, telling us of the stigma the community labelled him with when he sent his son to America to avoid getting caught up in war and how he didn’t give a shit because he felt he saved his son, it was bloody touching and great once again to cross the cultural divide and really connect with the people we were around.
Tobes and myself fannied around before heading into the festival; having to dump our bags in storage behind the camping pen for the early morning departure. I then went and met the Serbian guys I had met and I tried to get them a free ticket by sneaking in. But it hadn’t worked so the other person they had tried to get in couldn’t. I felt bad as though I’d been dicking them around because I was later than I said I’d meet them and it took me ages to find my way back to the place on the hill that you needed to go to try and sneak in and I said that they might be able to get the tickets of those of us who had left the day previously but Fred fairly said that they should go to the Hungarians who had been so hospitable. For the rest of the night we hung out on and off as did Toby and I. I learned this night that one of them (Alex) was very well educated in all things religious/spiritual and was a fundamental Christian and when pressed on why this was he said it was because he was born into it which seemed to be a theme of what I learned out there. He also turned out to be a 6 time heroin addict. On the last night I briefly went down to the dance arena (by the speakers on the right) and was delighted to see that Ben had joined our merry band and I told him that I was so glad to see him there shaking his thang as from then on I could remember it as if he had been there every night!
So you may be wondering “what was the music like then?”. Well truth be told it was pretty excellent. The Prodigy rocked out that first night despite the discomfort. I really enjoyed the Beastie Boys despite die-hard fans winging about the didgeridoo ambient interludes, Mix Master Mike also totally tore it up with is solos. I missed Basement Jaxx but could hear them as I came up the hill which turned out to be lovely prep for the night. CSS rocked my socks off! I knew I wanted to see them again and I got a chance to at Reading, they were so bouncy and fun and didn’t let up for their whole set it was like seeing an orchestra or bubblegum blowers, toe-tappers and excitable children, on ecstasy! Pendulum was pretty lame but did rock out some nice ditties which were good for really throwing yourself into but I’d heard him before and was under whelmed by his set (granted last time I’d heard him we had to break for a fire alarm), but I got to rock out with Jon Lau which was a more than pleasant surprise. There was a great little reggae/dub section tucked away at the back of the fortress which appeared to be behind a little maze or one way systems and proper old-school tunnels. I’d have liked to have spent more time there and in the trance area and in the makeshift cinema but there was just so little time and everyone was jostling and it took and age to get most places. Ho hum. Also there was some lovely drum and base I sought out and the dance arena was variable but was mostly consistently fun. I particularly enjoyed the big thrills of Richie Hawtin and Roger Sanchez. I also enjoyed juggling my hackysacks there when the sun came up and handing out sun cream to the otherwise scuppered whiter than white Europeans. There was also some lovely little break beats stages dotted around various parts of the hill which were great if short lived fun.
The train ride home was like a sauna. It was packed and boiling and we stopped for ages at the passport checkpoints. It was hellish and 10 hours long. We found a semi air conditioned carriage and chilled there and I watched The Science of Sleep on my Archos with a randomer I found there while eating nuts (as we hadn’t properly provisioned for the journey) and almost falling asleep myself. We got the train with Toby’s good pal and ex-cls-er James Down and a few of his friends and to sum it up in 2 words I’d have to go with baking and uncomfortable. To get from Budapest to Budapest airport I found someone who was going my way on the train to get the cost down but we got a bit stiffed on the cost, travelling like this was certainly ridiculous and not really my style. Ooh look at me, hoity-toity jet setter! On the plane I kept up my friendliness (which in truth should have been swapped for sleepiness) and chatted away to the only person on my isle who was an accountant girl for ITV. She had just been at a Jazz festival which sounded interesting. We swapped music tastes with our respective players. My bag became suddenly very chocolaty as the jar of spread I had packed for the journey exploded. Shitsticks!
When I got into Heathrow there was the usual mission of getting my baggage (which funnily enough had 2 bbguns in it and a horrible set of knun-chucks/knife stick) I got onto a train that was to take me straight to Finsbury Park across London, I set and alarm in case of oversleeping but it was no use. I woke up in Southgate only a few stops past mine but it was the last train and my phone had died so I called my rents and checked the possibility of buses before deciding to get a taxi. Lame. But what a ram packed nut-so week. Great people and a great, unforgettable time.
Oh if anyone who was there remembers something I’ve forgotten please let me know.
September 01, 2006
So been busy busy busy, and loving the crap out of it. Let’s start from where I left off. My first day at the NO2ID office was really good, the bulk of it was just envelope stuffing supporters packs, but I also learned how to send things by parcel force and fill in their forms. It was fun chatting about the scheme and other stuff with the guys there (obv Doc Who came up at least once). But just as with going to Planet I got paranoid about going past MI6. It’s an ugly oppressive building which I intend to photograph to show just how ugly it is, there is one corner that has what looks like a Bauhaus statue surrounded by a fence and a concrete wall with a camera over it. There’s always a security guard outside the gate (why they hire in security instead of using police etc I can’t quite fathom). I love the road name of the office; black prince st. jokes! When I walk there from Vauxhall station I love to play the game Spot the Spy. The object is to look at all the people coming out of the station and guess which are going to turn into the MI6 building, it’s perfect for me to play as they seem to keep pretty much normal office hours. So here’s a tip spy’s look boring, you wouldn’t invite them around for dinner, they usually wear short sleeve white or cream checked office shirts and carry rucksacks and mobile phones. But top of the range mobiles with stunguns I suppose we’re to presume. Anyway to lighten my paranoia there is the amusing sight of the London duck boat’s ramp from the Thames onto the road.
On Wednesday morning I went via Tottenham court road (a little out of my way) to try in at the camping shop that Alan recommended but when I got there (around 9:25) I discovered that they didn’t open until 10:30, lame. So I popped into borders (which I believe has replaced books etc on charring cross road, saddness) and flicked through the dr who comic books they had for sale. I returned after work and before I went to meet Becky from work. I got a sleeping mat and a gas stove. I was a little worried about taking a butane gas canister in my rucksack onto the tube but thought; och well.
I met Becky from work (though I stood in the rain for a while waiting for her) and then I rung the bell and went up to get her, the theatre agent’s office is quite nice (about 3 times the size of the NO2ID office, fair enough), pity about the view but it doesn’t look like the worst place to be of a day. We went to an amazing mule frites place across the road from her that does a cool pre theatre deal. We ate splendid food, a couple of delicious starters (churizos and summint else) and drank tasty beer (mine was a mango beer) and had a great main (I went for chicken wanting to have a hardy meal afore Reading’s makeshift cookery, and Bex had the famed mule frites woo!). After the meal we sauntered over to the Roundhouse theatre to see the AMAZING “Fuerzabruta”. It was an astonishing physical theatre piece from Argentina methinks. If you go to their website and click on the trailers page the lowermost trailer gives you a very accurate idea of what the show was: http://www.fuerzabrutalondon.co.uk/
It was the perfect preparation of a weekend of music dance and partying in every respect except that it meant we got back to do our packing at about 10ish. But pack we did considering every eventuality and then we hit the sack.
On Thursday morning Becky took a minicab to Paddington at 6:30am for her coach ride to Reading. I figured woo, we’ll get a good pitch (and boy was I right, which I discovered as a swanned in well after midday) and I got up around 9 to check the house was in a fit condition to leave (locked up, cat’s cared for etc). Then I went to Southgate tube station by bus and by tube. The journey was wicked as the guys I was driving with were totally jokes. The weather looked promising and I even took a photo just in case it didn’t hold up so I could look at it and remember the blue skys (and perhaps to punish myself for an unknown crime punished with water by god). We listened to some proper tunes on the way there with roots music and some morcheeba to bring out even more sunshine. The guy who was doing the lift part of the liftshare was called Stef and he pitched up right next to us which was wicked as we had a nice little party village going on with plenty of banter knocking about.
The first night was jokes, we wandered down to the action aid tent and had a boogie and signed their petition it was lots of fun and tons quieter than it was on the other nights after the main arena had closed. While hanging around the main drag towards the arena entrance we caught a pillow fight that took place on the bridge at 12 exactly, it looked like a lot of fun. When we got back to the tents we had a fire and it rained a bit I think, but it was light and didn’t last too long, it didn’t even put out the fire although for about 15 mins it did drive us under the cover of the more spacious tents. I’d brought along my wind up radio which gave a consistent background of music but which wasn’t needed when we got up around midday each day as we were near enough to the main stage to hear it perfectly.
Me & Bex indulged in some awesome cooking, with bacon sandwiches on the first 2 days for breakfast and some other delicish stuff. Camping was fun as we weren’t far at all from the long drop toilets (which I like for their fresh air) and we also were pretty close to a river/stream which doubled as a communal urinal. Woop!
So we had plenty of banter in the campsite and it was close enough that when tired or hungry or just wanting to see if we could find people we knew we could easily meander over to it.
But hey the festival is all about the drug of drugs; sweet sweet music and there was plenty of it. Highlights were in no particular order; Muse, Flogging Molly, Pearl Jam, The Arctic Monkeys, Less than Jake, Bedouin Soundclash & the Eagles of Death Metal. These acts were really special and you could really tell (and sometimes they said) that the performers were having the times of their lives or they were really connecting with the audience on some profound levels. The best thing is that they really comprised a great variety of music styles and all have great songs, and man, did I dance it up to each and every one of them, plus all the misc, dancing as we wandered around or at the action aid dance tent etc.
The other great acts I caught (none were bummers) or one’s that I only caught a wee bit of were: Yeah yeah yeahs (totally good fun mixed with good songs), Belle and Sebastian (chilled for a sunny afternoon and one of my CD faves), Panic! at the Disco (lead singer got bottled, I reckon t’were faked), Dashboard Confessional (great songs which I laid back and listened to horizontally), The Streets (I just caught “dry your eyes mate” & “fit but you know it” both good), The Futureheads (good band), Slayer (“war” ace old school metal), Peaches (really fun and grimsy), Goldie Lookin’ Chain (“your mother’s got a penis” nuff said) & Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (really happy shit).
I also got to catch some comedy with Bex and others, Stewart Lee was great doing some stuff I’d seen before (or heard on the radio recently) but still raised a good amount of laughs especially considering the fact he was competing with some very loud stages. I tried to catch him afterward to give him a NO2ID badge as he’s doing the fundraiser on the 1st of October at the Hackney Empire. I sent the badge back to him and handed out a bunch of flyers. Later I got help from some of the guys (Alex, Pat and Adam methinks) handing some flyers out and they discovered how easy and fun it was. EVeryone was really aproachable and it was nice to be able to talk to randoms a phenomenon I’ve enjoyed at other festivals and raves (and occasionally on public transport). I wish I took more flyers along with me, it’ll be a challenge for next year I guess, whatever happens festival wise. There was other good comedy from BBC3’s Ninia Benjamin and a cool Kiwi comic.
Toilets were annoying on beer bladders but the standard of toilet wasn’t what the stories had led me to believe. We often met each other by the red dragon Chinese noodle store, tho I never ate any, all I bought food wise was really some samosas and I think that’s more or less it, no dirty burgers for me.
It was great to hang out with and meet a few more of Bex’s friends; they’re a primo group with plenty of banter to be had all around. They really made the party atmos come alive. They especially helped this lame-o hippy get in the rock & roll mood (& encouraging a good amount of beer drinking to be sure). The time spent at the camp even when music was on was far from wasted (despite however wasted we might have been) and we all saw different stuff so vicarious enjoyment was the order of the weekend too, standard. I really enjoyed constructing our nightly fires, everyone pitched in to buy the wood which was sold at the entrance to the campsite and the fires were a lot of fun, except when stumbling people attempted to dive face first into them. On the last night it began to rain harder than it had before which I partly saw as a godsend as I had heard horror stories about the last night antics at Reading, where people would put gas canisters in fires etc and I assumed the rain was keeping those people away. But to keep the fire and the party going we went and borrowed the gazebo from the neighbouring camp whom all seemed asleep (they had been chanting CHUG, CHUNDER and Octo, Octo-bong at about 11am so burn out on the part of these gin swigging 15 year olds was hardly surprising). We then gathered a good number of people under the gazebo with everyone pretty knackered from the last night’s music and dance, it was a lovely lovely night, and we had the biggest fire to date (fire was selling cheap methinks).
Me and Becky did a good little trip to Waitrose to top up our supplies on the first day, it was fun, hard on the arms by the end but we’re fricking troopers. We got a couple of boxes of wine which was such a good idea, on the last day we snuck in a couple of water bottles of wine (because there was a ban on taking alcohol into the main arena) which was perfect for chilling to good music in the sun, cheap sophistication. We also topped up our food and got some soya milk for teas. I insisted we go into the Help the Aged charity shop. I hadn’t brought a waterproof and I found an excellent one in there for £6 and it was Pierre Cardin, I think I had a suit jacket of the same make which was pretty hardy. I also got my self a pretty Perrón, which features extensively in the Catalan film The Tit and the Moon which we studied last year. On top of those I bought a citronella candle in a can which was great for keeping bugs away (remember the toilet river I mentioned) and for a bit of light and fire lighting, a proper practical bargain for a pound.
On, I believe it was, the second night we bumped into a couple of Warwick people in the action aid tent. We saw a thesp, Cag’s boy Craig and my ex-housemate Katy. It was great, later I caught up with fellow film studier and all round ledge Andrew Shaw, he told me he was having a pretty crap time but we failed to hang out properly, partly because my phone was dead, same happened with Katy but at least we got to hang out for a bit of dancing.
So it was a great weekend, we got so lucky, with weather, beautiful sunny days, good temperatures etc. t’were all good. We also got lucky in other ways, bumping into all these cool people, the fact that I got a liftshare and it was off a totally cool dude, the fact that the other guy we came with dropped out so Bex could come home with me rather than go by coach and have to get to mine from Paddington, and the fact that the music was scheduled really well to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of music tastes. Anyway, I hope that begins to give an impression of how good that weekend was. Nuff said.
When we got back we crashed for bank holiday Monday and then on Tuesday Bex went to work. On Wednesday I went into Vauxhall and did some volunteering at NO2ID. It was mostly filing this time, alphabetising our general correspondence, creating a new file for correspondences with no affiliated organisations and the press. It was a quiet day with not too much to do and I left early to wait for Bex in central London and do some window shopping. I then caught up with Bex and her housemates Cags and Jen and her boyfriend/my ex director on Rebel Jamie Hewitt and we went for what was to be for them pre show drinks (they were going to see our mate Ben Fowler’s play that me and Bex had already seen) but they hadn’t booked so by the time they arrived there it was sold out. I was mad hungry by this point so we wandered down to the Pizza Express café and had some munch. It was lovely, then we went to one of the gay bars there and had another beer, woot!
Yesterday I had my last driving lesson before my test on Monday (wish me luck, not that I need it ;-p) which went pretty well and I’m quite confident. During the day I did some general admin stuff, cooked, had a bath etc and I left out to the mass lone protest in the no protest zone around parliament sq. Big thanks to Karim for sorting me out a licence to protest, he and his mate Sylvia had some cool signs and I was rocking out the NO2ID mask and flyers (which stupidly I printed instead of thinking ahead and getting a bunch from the office). I got a text from a mate of mine Richard who had seen me on BBC London News check it out:
here’s the video, I’m the masked one behind Mark Thomas I appear briefly about a minute in. http://news.bbc.co.uk/media/avdb/news_web/video/9012da680050218/bb/09012da680050270_16×9_bb.asx
After that finished we went straight over to Angel to see A Scanner Darkly which was a pretty good movie, but which didn’t dwell long enough on it’s really good paranoid noir or sci-fi elements, but which had some great performances shine through the rotoscoped animation which gave the film it’s beautiful style but with much less substance than Linklater’s previously rotoscoped film Waking Life. Unfortunately a lot of the enjoyment comes from intertextual references in the castings (such as the fuck up in the opening scene who is the extrapolation of a character from Linklater’s Waking Life) to conspiracy theories (the camouflaged lizard men) and to actor’s personal lives which all might add up to alienate the casual view (like my driving instructor who saw it and didn’t get into it). Keanu Reeves is as wooden as ever but his part as the lead is in many ways the least demanding role. We hit the pub once more and I got the first chance of the summer to catch up with the delightful Albert and meet his firlgriend. All in all good stuff.
Strange thing’s been happening, I’ve been getting a lot of anonymous calls on all lines, home and mobile, I wonder if it’s a network thing or what? I got one just after I invited a bunch of people on facebook to the middle east peace march, and it was number withheld and at 2 o’clock in the morning and was just a bunch of guys chanting “Israel” for about 2 minutes. Bizzare and childish a classic combination, luckily I left my phone downstairs that night do I didn’t hear it ring, but if this is the same person they are obviously chicken-shit scared or they wouldn’t wait to get answer phone or withhold their number. It reminds me of the disgusting tactic used by Israel military to intimidate people out of their homes in Lebanon (obviously on a much smaller & more trivial scale) whereby they sent a blanket of text messages to a vast area of Lebanon basically saying leave your homes or else, pretty stupid as often in these large families the cost of getting all of your children etc away from the bombing area. I do hope these calls aren’t related and I’m simply being paranoid in a very Phillip K. Dickian way. I’d also like to share my anger about the news from the UN that Israel dropped 90% of its cluster bombs in war’s final hours. When ceasefire was in sight they used these inhumane weapons, spitting in the wounds of many innocent Lebanese who will doubtless be killed by unexploded bombs. It makes me feel physically sick and hateful, mostly towards the American government who supply these weapons, and our government who won’t use it’s perceived position as the rational arm of the US’s brand of Western Imperialism to condemn what has happened as a war crime. But how can we expect more from a government that passes off murder as a health and safety issue?!? Apparently there wasn’t enough evidence for a prosecution. What?! HOW MANY BULLETS IN THE HEAD TO COUNT AS EVIDENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! How many witnesses were there!?! How come I’ve not seen a single piece of cctv footage of DeMenzes running or not running. How come I heard yesterday that one of THOSE firearms officers is now training the new British air marshals!!!!!!! Seriously!
Yesterday I sent my CV to one of the people I saw at the careers in television seminar at the roundhouse and she’s offered me some researching work experience on a show she’s developing for the discovery channel, I’m a little trepidatious about doing researching for TV again but this seems much more interesting and much less tabloid than 100 greatest sexy moments or Mike Tyson Laid Bare, so I might do some of that for a laugh and a reason to get out of bed (yes I can hear you all now, a bit late in the day to start thinking about that, wooo! you just punned yourself out of a point!)
So now to brunch (well after I’ve posted this and inserted a ton of photos etc) and then it’s Renoir time.
Ooh plans for the weekend, I was going to lose Becky to Harpenden as she was going up tonight for a mate’s party who I didn’t know and then hang there only coming back for Monday’s work and for a play (which I was going to tag along to and probably still will) tomorrow. I’ve gotta be back here tomorrow evening you see for my neighbours leaving do, I’m representing the house, I guess now along with Marina so I won’t be such a lemon. But Bex’s party seems off so I’m going to go up for the night. It’s my gran’s b-day tomorrow too but she says she hasn’t any plans but I’ll ring her tonight to check and I’ll make a card whilst watching Renoir, woop! Tomorrow there was also potential for some NO2ID flyering in highbury and Islington, but I reckon I’ll do that another week when we can also advertise their October first comedy fundraiser at the Hackney Empire. There is also a No Trident Replacement conference all day but I’ma have to skip that. To make up for it I’m going to donate a tenner to a big advert to coincide with the Labour party conference (ooh I’ll have my name in the paper) and you should all do the same:
For a minimum donation of £10, your name will be listed on the advert together with eminent individuals from all walks of life. To support this appeal and have your name listed on the advert, please ring Katy on 0207 700 2393 or support the ad campaign via our online shop. You may need to click through to the ‘Donate’ page or scroll down to find the statement donation, depending on your browser.
The deadline for signing on to this statement is Monday 4th September at 5 pm.
SAY NO TO NUCLEAR WEAPONS
TELL THE GOVERNMENT: NO TRIDENT REPLACEMENT