So once more please welcome the Happy Campers who enjoyed the rest of the festival on our behalf and are now wearing badges that say 'We sat through three hours of...' oh well you'll find out, part two to follow.
Notes from a Festival Virgin
At the grand old age of 55 I’ve finally made it to my first ever festival. Accompanied by Best Book Buddy, the plan was to have a structured timetable so we didn’t miss anyone we specifically wanted to see, with plenty of gaps for wandering around taking in the atmosphere. So, here are a few of my Memorable Moments, in no particular order. Many thanks to BBB for her wonderful company as always, in this and all our other escapades to all things literary.
Relaxing in the Dovegreyreader tent listening to Joanna Briscoe talking about her new book You, we were interrupted by a visit from Christopher Biggins. Our first celebrity! (No offence, Joanna.) He chatted for a while, then left again, leaving us all suffused in a warm Christopher Biggins-y glow.
DGR butts in to say look, loooook...
What a joy to find the Tented Tearoom. Proper cups and saucers and old-fashioned teapots, all in mismatched china; staff dressed in period costumes; music on vinyl records; a chandelier; and almond torte to die for.
Last year, BBB and I read The Leopard by Tomasi di Lampedusa for our book group, and Martin Scorsese had very kindly chosen the film version as one to be shown at the Cinema Paradiso. The setting was magical, sloping down to the river with a picturesque Victorian railway viaduct in the background (still used, and we were amazed at the number of trains and how late in the night they ran). Armed with Pimms and popcorn, we settled down for a treat. We knew the film is considered a classic, that it was made in 1963, directed by Visconti and starred Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon. What we didn’t know was that it is in Italian with subtitles, and that it lasts for THREE HOURS! Determined to stick it out to the end in order to report back to book group, we were soon swathed in the hats, gloves, scarves, fleeces, down jackets and blankets that we’d taken “just in case”, and still our extremities were frozen. If you ever get the chance to see this film, in much warmer circumstances, hmm think carefully because unless you’ve read the book you might not have a clue what it’s about.
Anyway we've got the badges now.
Sleep (lack of) Moment
I’m no stranger to camping so I was expecting (a) a crying baby, (b) at least one snorer (c) a car alarm in the early hours, and I was rewarded with all three. What I didn’t expect was the pounding boom from the disco until the wee small hours. I can’t get on with earplugs, so I suffer, then I’m grouchy, and that means everyone else suffers. Bearing all this in mind, I was remarkably restrained the next morning when BBB, in charge of catering, confessed that she’d brought camping stove, gas cylinders, teabags, mugs and milk, but had forgotten to bring a pan to boil the water in.......
Mosh Pit Moment
I’m not very good at standing events because lack of height means I can’t see anything. Every time I manoeuvre myself into a good position, someone taller and/or broader manages to stand in front of me. With Bellowhead, however, seeing them doesn’t matter so much. For those who don't know them, I wouldn’t recommend buying a CD and listening to it while reading a book – they need to be experienced live. Their set was one and a half hours of pure energy and the audience packed into the Big Top had just enough room to jump up and down on the spot. In front of me was Mr Dreadlocks-and-grass-skirt; next to him was Swaying Man, working on the principle that if he concentrated very, very hard on sending a text message, he might manage to stay upright; and next to me was Get-A-Room couple, who thankfully disappeared early in the gig, presumably to do just that.
We were in our favourite oasis of calm, the Tented Tearoom, when the three people opposite us struck up conversation and told us in no uncertain terms that we must not miss Mark Crick, soon to be performing at a venue nearby. We had time to spare before our next event, so thought we’d look in. Surprise, surprise, one of the three was Mark Crick, whose speciality is writing “instruction manuals” in the style of other authors. We forgot all about our next event and stayed on to the end, crying with laughter. Something I will never forget, and nor will the hapless female member of the audience who ended up on stage helping Mark to read “How to Paint a Door” in the style of Anaïs Nin (think stiff bristles and firm strokes and you’ll get the general idea). Definitely seek out his books – Kafka’s Soup (recipes), Sartre’s Sink (DIY) and Machiavelli’s Lawn (garden maintenance).
To be continued .... you will absolutely want to know about the Happy Campers Kate Winslet magic moment