Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In which I realise I fell in with a good crowd far too early in life and entirely neglected to properly misspend my youth

So it's been nearly two months, and Electric Picnic is still buzzing round in my head and making me smile every time it pauses at the "thought" doorway. (Electric Picnic is kind of Burning Man in an Irish field, or, as the British political journalist Jon Snow put it, Glastonbury crossed with the Hay Literary Festival.)

I’d had really mixed feelings about going. I mean, I like music, but not necessarily enough to spend time in a field coated in mud listening to it, or sacrificing the opportunity for two nights’ decent, kid-free sleep. Yeah, yeah, I’m whining, it’s true. I just wondered whether this was one of those things, like reading The Catcher in the Rye or watching The Outsiders, that you have to do within a certain time frame or you’re screwed. And an unwanted by-product of an overactive imagination is the ability to run through pretty much every scenario in your (OK, my) mind and see exactly how bad things could become.

It's also because I'm terrible - terrible- at doing things outside of my comfort zone, and my comfort zone is pretty narrow. Give me a pen and paper, or better still, a good book, and I'm sorted. It's anti-social to a degree, but it's always worked for me. I couldn't exactly see how a music festival was going to be my idea of fun. But...part of the thing I'm working on for the next 18 months is to not feel so small and scared at things outside of my absolute preferred option. And I love Dave, and Dave loves music, and sometimes life really is that simple.

And I’m sure, if we'd picked a different event, my worst fears might have been just the starting point. But - and this is a HUGE but - this festival that seemed to have been put together by people listening to little voices in my head. I actually can’t think of a better way of spending two days. For starters, I got to hang out with Dave without (literally) knee-high mini-versions of him in tow asking for ice cream or sliding into the mud or beating the living shit out of each other (and knowing that they were having their own personal version of a festival with their grandparents meant no associated guilt, either).

And then, look! Here's the stuff going on in my head:

Sitting under a tree eating pie and chips, watching a rainbow fade over a manor house whilst listening to Zero 7*

Watching Dave dance and seeing that part of him which these days is buried under the day-to-day of kid-raising and career-having. Watching the man you married letting loose at one of the things he likes to do most is worth any amount of sleeping in a field in Ireland in September. Even if he did offload his bag to me for better dancing.

Dancing like loons to Just Jack at three in the afternoon, perfectly straight and gloriously happy, in the middle of a huge crowd. We’d wandered in to see him on the strength of one song, which can make me cry on a bad (good?) day, and came out beaming those beams that don’t switch off. I am always going to be in love with scruffy, unassuming blokes who can both rhyme and scan, so really it was a foregone conclusion. Makes me happy happy happy.

Watching a little boy, maybe 4 or 5 years old, playing tag in the trees dressed in combat trousers and fairy wings.

The waiter at the Burlesque Cafe, dressed for the occasion in fuschia lycra accessorised with a matching boa, who wandered up to us and asked, "Would you like to see some photos of Victorian porn?" Better still, he'd got Jon Snow, the political journalist mentioned above, to sign the copy. OK then.

Hanging out in the spoken word tent whilst Dave was off doing his dance thing somewhere and getting to hear top Northern Irish performance poets Scream Blue Murmur do a cover version of Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire" as sung by the Proclaimers. Entirely nutso and absolutely brilliant.

Soaking in a giant melamine tea cup/hot tub at 10pm on a Saturday night with random Irish "personalities" wandering past and men eating fire 7 feet away.

If I hadn't already resolved to be braver, I'd resolve to be braver. Totally, totally worth it.

*We’ve seen Zero 7 play now in Ireland, Seattle and London, at festivals, bigger gigs, and small venues, and much as we love them at home (hence our persistence), the official pronouncement is that they're still shit live. Sad but true.


KimKuHar said...

The paragraph about watching Dave dance and then him handing off his man purse to you made me cry and then laugh. So sweet!

Sarah said...

Gotta love those pregnancy hormones, huh, sweet lady? Glad you laughed at least at the end. You've seen Dave at gigs, right? - you can picture it for yourself. One of our Irish friends was there with me at the time & said, "I had *no* idea Dave could be like this"!