I’m not known for being hip, cool or happening. In fact I’m more known for being dependable, responsible and anxious. So I was bang up for a local mini-festival in a bunch of cowsheds only 10 miles from home. I was totally on board with digging out my ripped Top Shop denim skirt and doing some serious layering with ethnic-style scarves, bangles and donning a flowery head band. Yes, I acknowledge it doesn’t have the kudos of Woodstock or Glastonbury but it will still be totally radical and wild. The Mother is coming to babysit at home; kids in their own beds, on-tap hangover help for the following morning; tidy! I’ve even managed to secure a lift there with my eldest daughter. Nothing can go wrong. I envisage myself and my partner-that-was; ‘cutting loose’, ‘making shapes’, ‘getting bang at it’ in a hayloft. Making sweet love under the stars to the drone of some local teenagers screaming through the only four chords they know, tipsy on life, love and feeling ‘young’ again…
Anyhoo…ten minutes before leaving we receive a call to say that we can’t bring our own alcohol (at this point stashed in a ‘Teletubbies’ mini back-pack) but no matter; we’ll drink on the way there and leave the rest in the car and shell out at the bar for the rest of the night. Still hip, cool and definitely happening. After waving off The Mother and children I crack open my first can of ‘Speckled Hen’ which is the post-40 iteration of ‘Blue Wkd’. Knocking it back, we take to the back roads in a ‘Corsa’ that should have been scrapped at least 10 years previously with a scratchy CD on full bore.
If at this point I could have drifted out of my body and gazed down upon myself supping on strong, brown beer like my life depended upon it; I might have had a stern word with myself. A serious chat about responsibility and alcohol. Perhaps labouring the point that you don’t need to get drunk in order to have a good time? After all it’s neither big nor clever getting leathered in your forties. The sort of chat I would normally reserve for my adult children. But I’m fully stuck in my own body and at this point I’m having a really good go at re-living my youth so ignoring the brown stains on now saturated denim skirt I crack open another can!
Turning the corner we come to an abrupt halt. A horse box has turned over in the road; how fucking inconvenient I think…”Oh dear I hope no one’s been hurt?” are the words that come out of my mouth. It is quickly apparent that all is well, other than external forces intent on ‘ballsing’ up my festival plans. So it comes to pass that we end up sitting in the car watching what can only be described as a circus, as several farmers with tractors attempt to ‘right’ the box. During this time I manage to sink a further 3 cans of ‘Speckled Hen’ leaving me feeling bloated, windy and in dire need of a wee; Oh and pissed of course! With several farm Collies frolicking in the road and Farmers of differing sizes (each seemingly intent on showing most of their hairy buttocks) making a piss poor attempt at clearing the road, it is entertaining to say the least.
Now able to continue to the venue we very quickly arrive in a scruffy car park then wave off my daughter. She serves up an angry doughnut, scuffing up the hard core in an attempt to get away. I suppose given that the 20 minute journey had taken an extra hour and her boyfriend was waiting at home, and they had a ‘free house’ it is understandable. Two gangly teenagers then relieve us of 20 quid and we’re advised to finish our booze and walk up the country lane to the ‘festival’.
“It’s very quiet.”
“Well we’re in the middle of nowhere.”
“But it’s a music festival?”
“Yeah but it’s the first year they’ve held it, Glastonbury was probably a slow burner…”
Upon rounding the corner there are several bohemian-looking gypsy folk playing various home-made instruments by the light of a fire pit. This is more like it! With a stirring in my nether regions I’m quite drawn in by the drumming and a tall, thin guy bearing Salvidor Dali’s moustache and a lascivious grin. The drunken reprobates draw us in; I’m utterly trollied at this point, the fresh air has apparently ignited the alcohol in my veins and I’m swaying with bulging eyes and reaching out for a drum. At this point I apparently think I’m Phil Collins and begin bashing away, closing my eyes to really connect with the beat. My partner at this point is clearly not drunk and most definitely not impressed. In hindsight he could clearly see this bunch of delusional druggies for what they were and the sight of his wife (at the time) with another man’s ‘bongo’ between her legs was too much for him. But with a band kicking into life in a nearby cow shed and Mr Dali giving me the eye I was proper into this bizarre little gathering and didn’t want to leave. I even accepted a sup on some vile substance in an unmarked bottle from a girl with dreadlocks….wtf was I thinking of?! So after a good tug on my arm and ‘the look’ I was dragged away and I then attempted to follow my thoroughly pissed off other half in the direction of the music. Unfortunately at this point I was struggling to stay upright!
It appears I am as drunk as Paul Gascoigne on the way to the shops in his dressing gown, so my anxiety does what it does best and kicks in. Shit; my legs are not working properly? The right side of my brain starts screaming that “I’ve been ‘spiked'”; the revolting concoction I accepted minutes earlier, is, as we speak winging it’s way through my system poisoning me. Soon all my organs will shut down and I’ll be found a flower bed nearby, having not only shit myself, but also died. What if Mr Dali is watching me from afar, biding his time, waiting for me to pass out so that he can twiddle with my bits and bobs? The left side of my brain should of course be telling me that 4 cans of 5% vol beer downed in less than 2 hours might also have the same effect but unfortunately it’s being shouted down by the highly dramatic right side! With the other half having flounced off to ‘get a beer’, I find myself ‘crabbing’ or stumbling sideways into a ‘flower bed’. Here I spend what feels like hours in the dark trying desperately to input the pin number into my mobile phone.
I’m freaking out at this point. I am alone, sitting in the dark; my fingers and legs don’t work. If I keep really still I can still just about focus but this is the extent of my current control over my body. Suddenly I’m in; to my phone that is and I then manage to stab away with my floppy digit and eventually call my daughter.
“J*shhhh come geh meh?”
“J*shhhhh mah lone, come geh meh peashhhhhh.”
“Are you okay Mum?”
“Come geh meh peashhhhh J*shhhhh….is darhhh, mah lone, spiked noh walk?”
“Mum I’ve only just got home, do you want me to come and get you?”
“Erm. Okay. Don’t move.”
“Ahhhhhhhhhh lub youuu…I cah moooo….drin spiked…my die….?”
“I’m on my way….she’s drunk, bladdered, I’ve got to go and get her, yes now…I know I’ve only just got back, what can I do? I know she’s too old for this shit; but what can I do….? I’m going to get her….yes really….”
Suddenly my brain (both sides) are alerted to a more pressing problem. It appears my bladder is now straining at the seams, 2,000 ml of beer which is ready to be offloaded and my usual control has apparently gone out the window. So with the agility of a sloth in calipers, I attempt to pee in the bushes. The net result of which is wet shoes, wet pants and a wet handbag. I’m suddenly concerned about the time; my daughter; she might be trying to find me? So looking through my good eye I manage to focus on the gate through which we came, as a pair, only half an hour earlier. Right I reckon I can make it….if I try. So I stand; adjust my soiled handbag and begin the long stagger across a massive and now deserted concrete pad. Where are the gypsies who poisoned me? The fire pit, instruments and massive selection of bongs? It’s like it was all some weird dream…
Like a member of the Elite Special Forces I’m taking one or two steps forward then hitting the ground as my legs give way and the world begins to swim before my eyes. Resting for a few seconds in between each bout to adjust my damp skirt, re-drape my 7 scarves and gather my faculties, I then continue. Under a harsh industrial light I make slow and steady progress towards the car park praying there’s no CCTV and my shame isn’t being recorded. With only a couple of feet to go I sense I’m no longer alone. Whipping my head round I see my (ex) partner standing above me; a look of humiliation etched onto his face and sipping red wine like a massive gay.
“Where are you off to?”
“Jesshhhh is come f’me.”
“What now? We’ve been here less than an hour? Come on I’ll get you a baked potato you’ll be fine.”
Suddenly I’m bathed in the headlights of a car; thankfully it’s Jess. The look on my eldest child’s face as she helps me into the back of her car will haunt me forever; a sad mix of disappointment and disgust. This was clearly not my finest hour. So with a face like a ‘smacked arse’ my partner also gets into the Corsa of doom whilst chuntering about ‘a waste of money’, and we begin the 20 minute journey home. With my face pressed into the back seat and no thought for hygiene; I’m hardly in a position to be fussy am I? I’m then forced to endure every bump and adverse canva the country roads have to offer with a rising bile in my throat.
My ‘piece de resistance’ is vomming, after a high velocity ‘speed bump’ straight into a Boots the Chemist bag I find in the back of the car. She was not happy; though the brand new lipstick and eyeliner were good as new after a wet wipe.
Still life is all about experience. I learned that 7 scarves is too many, even at a festival, a denim skirt can retain odour even after several washes and that festival’s are not nearly as fun as I’d imagined.