Wednesday, 16 September 2015

101 Ways to Convince Your Psychologist You're Normal: The Festival

Ah festivals.

I love and hate you in equal measure. For every great musical delight there is a portaloo that is a shrine to those people that can't quite fit human excrement into a plastic container.

Tonight though I am full of love. Full of love for the joy I am about to witness. A fragment of life where you hope time stands still and allows all my senses to be at one with the moment. Tonight it is Sufjan Stevens and I am happy.

It doesn't matter to me that three men, or I should say boys as they were beardless, ridiculed me for the colour of my socks and my rather natter shooting stick. I care not one bit that my hair has been hidden beneath my trucker cap or that as yet I have been unable to change my underpants. Soon I will be in a majestic heaven of sound and beauty.

I make my way early to a spot that’s central and just ten or so feet away from the from of the stage. There is eager anticipation, as there should be for the headline act on a Saturday night and already the numbers are swelling to a level that makes it hard to move in any direction.

If you have never heard of Sufjan Stevens then you are missing one of americas finest artists. A voice that is quiet and tender vocalises lyrics about history, love and loss whilst accompanied by musical scores that can range from old time folk through to electro pop. This is his first UK festival appearance in over ten years of producing eclectic albums and it’s going to be good.

Ten minutes to go and everyone is ready. Well everyone apart from a couple of german youths who are busy pushing people out of the way in order to make their way to the front of the stage. This produces a mixture of anger and good old British silent indignation.

I’m soon next in their path and I have a decision to make. A decision I would rather avoid as I hate conflict of any sort. Do I let them continue or do I make a stand for my fellow festival friends?

Questions begin to race through my mind. What is the social etiquette that applies in this situation? Shouldn’t I be welcoming of all our EU friends even Germans? I pushed into the toilet queue earlier (I really needed to go) and now I’m throwing accusing looks at two strangers who just want to enjoy Sufjan as much as I do, is that fair?

No. No! I will not be moved! I’ve come this far. I got here early. It’s my space and I shall protect it and the space in front of me like I suspect a knight once protected his damsel. I’m a knight, although a knight in dark glasses despite the lateness of the evening.

I muster up all my courage as they make their way towards me mumbling ‘excuse me’ in broken english. I look them in the eye. It’s now or never. This could be the moment that changes festival going forever. In future no-one will be pushed out of the way and the weak will high five each other and thank ‘Watson’. Maybe they will make it a national day of remembrance.

I’m going to do it! 

‘Excuse me’ says the male member of the intruders and before I can give a stoic rebuttal to their request then a group of men start shouting at them and telling them to go back to where they came from.  I’m assuming this didn’t mean Germany as that sounded more UKIP than even I wanted but even so I’m left in the position of just tutting loudly and nodding my head in agreement with my new right wing friends.
They stop, look around and sense that the crowd has become one in this decision. It would be foolhardy to go any further.

‘They all hate us?’ a swaying german man asks as his female friend looks sheepishly down at the ground.

At this moment I should really confirm what they already seem to know, that even at a laid back festival the British are not ready to accept any more foreigners especially if they are six foot and spoil a decent view.

‘No’ I stutter. ‘Well, maybe a little bit, but you know we all did get here rather early and you cant just  turn up at the last minute.’  If I am a knight I suspect my damsel has just walked off in disgust.

We make small talk. It turns out I am standing with Thomas and Frieda from just outside Berlin and they have made this trip specifically to see Sufjan. Frieda seems particularly excited with her eyes just fixed on the stage that Sufjan will appear on whilst Thomas sways around whilst taking short tugs on a spliff.

It isn’t long before Thomas is making more trouble by swaying back and forth so much that he appears to be nuzzling the head of the girl in front of him. He does it a few times and I can sense the discomfort is bubbling away. He stumbles one more time before the girl turns around and shouts ‘can you stop touching my arse!’  Even I got embarrassed by that statement yet Thomas seems not to care.

‘Listen mate if you want to touch anyone you can just touch me right’.  My damsel in in distress and yet this offer of support felt slightly more camp than I intended.  Thomas is soon hugging me whilst bumping into more festival goers making me look like some loved-up willing accomplice.

Eventually I am forced into further action and ask Frieda to look after him before someone gets really annoyed. Thomas sways a little more then takes my words as a signal to part. We are one German down but their is a collective sigh of relief, even Frieda seems more relaxed.

Lights dim. Sufjan appears at the piano from the gloom. The crowd roar. 

Thomas goes for a lie down. 

I felt sorry for my German friend for a moment, but it was only a moment. 'Make love not war' is my motto unless someone is pushing in and spoiling your view.