The Joy of Fest

Festival Time
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It’s recently been floated as an idea that some friends and I should go to a festival next year. I’m am for this in principle, but I’m not the kind of person who fits in well at a festival. I try. God do I try. But it’s only getting worse as I get older.

So here’s my top reasons my peak festival-going days may be behind me.

1) Alcohol

Many people consider drinking to be a fundamental part of the festival experience. But I’m not a massive drinker. Plus I’ve paid a lot of money to come and see music, I want to hear the bands play the songs, not be leaving every 4th track to pee in a giant plastic cube while standing in the urine of a thousand other men.

I’ve genuinely seen people falling down drunk at 10:00am, and one guy at a day festival apparently passed out around 14:00 and missed all the bands he went to see. If you want to pass out in a field listening to “also appearing” acts, go to a battle of the bands and save yourself a lot of money. They’re closer too.

2) Back pain

I’m just getting to the age where office life is starting to break me. Oh sure, talk all you want about regular breaks and ergonomics, but being sat in an office for 8 hours a day is always going to leave a lasting impression. Generally my arse on the seat.

So if you’re going to have me in a field clapping all day, with the occasional raising of my hands into the air to adequately demonstrate my apathy, this is going to add up to a sore back. And that’s the kind of shit that a weekly pilates class is powerless to prevent.

3) Logistics of being over-prepared

Some happy-go-lucky types just wander in with nothing but shirt on the back. Some don’t even manage that.

Not me.

Sun cream? Check. Lots of bottled water to stay adequately hydrated in the summer sun? Check (at least 6, just to be safe). Waterproof rain jacket. Hoodie in case it gets chilly. Healthy snacks? Unhealthy snacks? Wet wipes? Hand sanitizer? Sun glasses? Phone, wallet, keys and other valuables?

I look less like a care-free festival-goer and more backpacker-who-just-saw-a-crowd-and-followed-it.

4) Food

Festivals are like my heaven – it’s all pizza, burgers, burritos, noodles and other delicious food stands. Proper food stands. None of these hipster veg-infused bollocks. Processed meats, American Cheeses and saturated fats all the way. But when you get to the stage when pie and mash is the healthy option, and you’re choosing burgers because you can add fried onions, which totally count as one of your 5-a-day, something may be going wrong. Like most of my internal organs.

The older I get, the more aware I am that I should eat healthier. An indulgent day used to make me worry I’ll get fat eventually. Now it makes me know that I’ll get heartburn and probably wake up with a food hangover thanks to all the salt and MSG and crap.

5) Hygiene

Hygiene is a major concern. I’m not so worried that I’m going to smell. I can’t smell me, what do I care?

No, my concern is more that I’ll die of dysentery by eating without scouring my hands for twenty minutes first, or I’ll catch chlamydia from the toilets. Again.

In these situations hand sanitizer is your friend. Although the first festival I went to was on at the same time as an England football match. I went to order some food as everyone was walking towards the screens, put some hand sanitizer on while I waited. As the woman went to hand me my burger she paused, looked at me doing this, and simply said “I’m guessing you’re not going to the football, are you…?” How. Rude. I mean, I wasn’t, but still, assumption much?

This article topic was suggested by a reader for Over-To-Uesday. If you fancy suggesting an article for next week’s blog, message me on Twitter or drop me an email.

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Hunted – Diary of a Fugitive

Hunted - Diary of a Fugitive
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Day 1

15:46: Had a knock at the door – they told me I was on the run! Luckily I’d been preparing for weeks. I had been stockpiling rations and maps that I came across. I’m ready, I can do this.

16:28: Accidentally watched two episodes of Archer on Netflix. Decided to label it research into survival skills. First time I’ve ever appreciated the notifications on the third episode. Half my rations have been eaten. In unrelated news I have a chocolate headache. I grab my pack and run to the street.

16:34: I draw some money out. Having seen that all ATMs have CCTV, I maintain an evil glare and give them the finger for the whole transaction. Although it was probably the wrong move when I was getting cash back in store at the time.

16:35: The store security guard has clearly heard about my task as he helps me leave much faster. I complete the first 1.4 yards of my journey in record time, with a well coordinated throw of my bag out of the store. Shame I was in it at the time.

16:42: I reach the Tube station to board the Northern Line.

17:23: I finally board a tube.

17:47: I get off the tube, having spent the past 24 minutes stood at an angle usually reserved for Michael Jackson videos. We were packed in very tightly. I may have had someone inside of me. I try not to think about it as I make my way to the train station.

17:51: I feel I’ve been in London far too long and they must be close. That said I’ve never yet turned down a station pasty, and I refuse to let this experience change who I am as a person.

18:12: I board the first available train after my pasty. Extra large was probably a bit arrogant of me. I keep the un-eaten part and hope when it starts to go stale it’ll harden into some kind of weapon.

18:17 – My weapon has been eaten. I feel ill.

19:25 – I arrive at “The North” and leave the train. The station is called Ipswich. I reassure myself that I’m not really on the run in some kind of dystopian future. Ipswich always looks like this.

22:12: I’m not all that familiar with Ipswich, having only really been to the cinema. So I go watch The Martian. Well worth the money. Although the large popcorn and drink ate into my very limited funds.

22:16: I decide to get a bus into the country. After a heated discussion and several minutes of furious waving, it seems they don’t accept Oyster card here. I’m politely told I’ll need to wait for the next bus. Then I’m impolitely told I’ll really have to wait for the next bus.

22:17 – The bus driver continues to insist, before helping me with the first 2.1 yards of my journey. These Suffolk people seem stronger than their London counterparts.

22:40 – I finally board a bus. They tell me that they I require exact change. I regret demanding all my money is in £50 notes so I can feel like a big shot. I feel pretty stupid. Until I say “keep the change” and feel like a boss. Worth it. And so I set course for deepest, darkest Suffolk.

22:42 – I arrive in deepest, darkest Suffolk. Which is lucky because apparently the bus terminates there. I leave, and notice there’s a man with a camera on me. I ask him what his deal is. It turns out he’s been with me from the start. Which is awkward. His name is Stephen, and he’s not allowed to help me in any way.

22:58 – I decide to set up camp. Stephen is apparently not keen on acting as my bivouac. I throw a tantrum, screaming that I’m his master now and as my minion he must do my bidding.

23:14 – I finally tire myself out and decide to sleep under the stars. A phrase I’ve not used since my gigolo days in Hollywood.

Day 2

06:47 – It’s the morning after the night before. I’m thankful to wake up in a world where time is still linear. I decide to make the most of the situation by getting a McDonalds breakfast.

07:12 – I finish the meal. They aren’t as good as I remember. I try to decide whether to feed Stephen, but decide against it. You never feed strays, it just encourages them. He buys himself a Sausage McMuffin, which I promptly steal and flee the building with. Stephen pursues me. Based on my distance and hang time I assume Stephen is from Suffolk. And hungry. And angry.

07:13 – I invent the term “hangry”. Stephen assures me this isn’t new. This is probably for the best because I was already part way into dialling my Mum to let her know how clever I am. They probably would have traced this some how.

07:35 – In an effort to recapture the magic of “hangry” and get Stephen back on my side, I try being both earnest and direct. Stephen does not react well when I tell him I’m “erect”.

9:09 – I regain consciousness. Stephen says he may have overreacted and suggests we put the whole thing behind us. I say that it’s fine if he wants my being erect behind him, I’m all for it.

10:44 – I regain consciousness. I’m suddenly wary of Stephen. Particularly his right hook, which could floor a donkey. I decide he’ll be useful if we’re backed into a corner. We board a train to head on, lest they know where we are. I decide to use this situation as an opportunity to say “lest” more.

13:20 – We arrive at Great Yarmouth where I head straight to Donkey ridethe beach. I locate the nearest donkey ride and demand that Stephen punch it, for science. Stephen politely declines. I push the subject before I politely recline, fearing loss of consciousness again.

17:37 – We’ve killed an afternoon at the beach. It’s been a magical day that I’ll never forget. Stephen bought me candy floss to apologise for the three punches. He said I’m not allowed to tell anyone as he could get into a lot of trouble. I promise never to tell a single person. Mass crowds seem to remain fair game.

18:45 – We arrive at a caravan park where I finally get some shut-eye. It’s been a long day, and I feel mildly concussed, so I get an early night’s sleep.

Day 3

9:54 – I sleep like a baby. It’s good having a roof over my head again. Stephen says that I should have actually got a caravan, rather than sleeping under someone else’s, which he suggests is “a bit weird”. The free Wi-Fi begs to differ.

17:25 – I realise I’ve lost track of time as I’ve spent the day watching Netflix on my tablet using the open Wi-Fi. Stephen questions how long my battery will last, which I wave away. I don’t have time for naysayers on my adventure.

18:00 I set off in search of food. Stephen assures me that cat isn’t great, and that I should eat some proper food. I trust Stephen on this. I buy some Tunnock’s Teacakes and a packet of Nik Naks instead. I return back to my Wi-Fi. I watch late into the night.

Day 4

8:23 – I wake up and go straight back to watching shows.

17:54 – Stephen is worried. Apparently the battery died several hours before but I didn’t notice. He suggests maybe I should go to the hospital, but I say him and his three identical siblings can forget it. With my track record that’s the first place the Hunters will look.

Day 5

7:29 – It’s been a while since my last proper meal. I decide to properly discuss the situation with Stephen. We’ve been given £450 on a card, of which I drew out £250. I share with Stephen that I’m worried I won’t be able to pay it all back. He assures me that it’s fine, I don’t have to pay it back.

8:02 – We check in to a local spa. I order champagne which I drink, and oysters, which I flick at Stephen.

19:23 – After my massage, sauna, steam room session and a brief nap, I order myself a steak. And then a second. Which I flick at Stephen.

Spa towelDay 6

I remain at the spa.

Day 7

I remain at the spa.

Day 8

My cash ran out days ago, but it turns out they don’t run the card I gave them until check out.

Day 9

I stay at the spa

Day 10

I stay at the spa.

Day 11

12:34 – Staff are suspicious that I can’t really afford all of this. My monocle bill alone is reaching into the mid hundreds. They run the card.

12:52 – The Hunters arrive in the middle of my regular afternoon sauna. They promise not to hurt me if I come quietly. And they promise to settle the bill if I “put on a damn dressing gown”.

I may not have outwitted the Hunters, but I do appreciate the experience it’s given me. And the wonders it’s done for my pores and cuticles.

This article topic was suggested by a reader for Over-To-Uesday. If you fancy suggesting an article for next week’s blog, message me on Twitter or drop me an email.

Summer Wardrobe

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Hot“Why don’t you get a summer wardrobe?”

“I don’t think that’s necessary.”

“It’s incredibly hot out, aren’t you going to get, well, incredibly hot?”

“A slightly warmer day is no excuse for me to inflict my legs on the capital, thank you very much.”

“You just tend to get a bit cranky when it’s hot out, especially when you’re wearing a jet black Rush t-shirt and a pair of jeans.

“No, YOU tend to get a bit cranky when it’s hot out, especially when YOU’RE wearing a jet black Rush t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Which I realises is slightly more of an edge case for you than it is me.”

“But just think, you can have half your t-shirts out now, and half saved for winter, so you get to wear them as if they were new. That means you won’t need to go shopping as often.”

“Well played. Points for knowing your audience, but no. Now pop the kettle on.”

“You can’t seriously want a cup of tea in this heat?”

“Look, my dad always said I’m like our car. I can’t go very fast and the body needs a lot of work, but also that when it’s hot you should put hot water in, otherwise it’s a shock to the system. So pop the kettle on. It’s just a bit warm out, not the bloody apocalypse.”

photo credit: “Hot” via photopin (license)

The ABCs of Cleaning

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DVDs

Aaaand a deep soothing breath at the organised loveliness. And the realisation of how many copies of the same film you actually have.

“They’re due here in twenty minutes, how’s the tidying going?”

“And…. done!”

“Really, wow, OK, so if you just go and… wait, have you hoovered?”

“Ah, no.”

“Or dusted?”

“Not yet.”

“And you’ve not put the ironing away, tidied your stuff or done any of the washing up.”

“I have done all these jobs previously. But in this exactly situation, I cannot claim they’ve not been done in the literal definition of the word, no.”

“So what HAVE you done?”

“Alphabetised the DVDs of course.”

“Why, when you know we don’t have long? I asked you to do one thing…”

“Yes, tidy, which by your own confession contains at least 5 jobs you listed earlier in the conversation. How was I to know alphabetising DVDs wasn’t one of them? If I worked in a libarary and said I’d tidied the whole place but hadn’t alphabetised the books by boss would go loopy!”

“But you don’t work in a library!”

“Oh you always throw that back in my face, don’t you? I’m sorry. I’m sorry I don’t work in a library. There, are you happy?”

“I… I… I don’t understand what’s happening!”

“And now, when your parents arrive after a long journey we can say “hey guys, do you fancy watching a film?” and be able to locate any title within 15.7 seconds rather than wasting all that time. But I bet you didn’t think of that did you? You just want them to be sat in awkward silence while we faff around with mumbled apologies and furtive glances while they judge me.”

“OK, OK, I’m sorry, alright? I’ll help by ironing and putting the hoover round.”

“Cool, in that case I’ll go jump in the shower. Thanks!”

photo credit: Pristine DVDs via photopin (license)

Blocked by the Gatekeeper.

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Gate

Getting locked out was part of plan to prove resourcefulness. Plan failed.

“Where are we going?”

“You see this gate? We need to be the other side of it”.

“But the gate’s locked…”

“That does seem to be the crux of our predicament. This is the first time I’ve trid going through Castle Park after dark and I didn’t realise it got locked up at night.”

“Well, this is the first date I’ve been on where we’ve tried invading a castle.”

“You’ve never been with a man who treats you like a Queen. You wait until later when we oppress some serfs before eventually developing Consumption and conquering a fifedom.”

“Sounds fun.”

“Oh definitely. And there’s only about a 40% chance of me finding a younger woman more likely to bear me a male heir, leading me to send you to the headsman.”

“Oh shush you.”

“45%”

“So what are we going to do then?”

“There’s nothing for it. We’ll just have to wander around until we find a point of entry.”

“I hope you’re still talking about the park.”

“… 25%”.

photo credit: Iron Flowers, circa 1900 via photopin (license)

Sinister Lefty Types

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Choose your weapon.

Choose your weapon.

“Wait, you’re left-handed?”

“Yes… we’ve been bowling for twenty minutes and you’ve only just noticed?”

“What can I say, the view of you walking away left me kind of distracted”.

“How rude – do you talk to all the girls you take on dates like this?”

“Only the ones I like”.

“So you like me then?”

“Far to early to tell”.

“What?!”

“Oh I was a big fan, but now I learn you’re a lefty? I’m not so sure. You know that’s where the term sinister come from, right? As a dexterous right-hander with a winning smile and a heart of gold, it remains to be seen whether your left-handedness is enough to draw me out.”

“Hendrix, Cobain, McCartney – these are all my partners in arms. I wouldn’t write them off.”

“You might not write off, but they could be left off!”

This remains an incredibly clever joke that, being based on
homophones worked much better outloud. She was impressed. I assume.

“Oh God, that was terrible”.

She was impressed on the inside

“I’m just going to the toilet for a dexterous whizz, then I’ll be back”.

Upon returning, she’d gone. Ah. Maybe I’d overdone it with my left-handed talk?

Then a text arrived.

“Righty was right. Lefty has left so if righty wants to do what’s right and walk her home, righty had better collect the shoes that he left or lefty will go right the way home without him. Two minutes left as of right now.”

I REALLY liked this girl.

photo credit: Balls of Fun via photopin (license)

Ninja Equality

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“Wake up. I can’t move my neck. I think something’s happened to it, it’s gone all stiff.”

“Look, save your overly obvious innuendo set-ups for when I’m awake.”

“I was just woken up by the sound of my own neck snapping. This is not a good sign. What if it was a failed ninja attack?

Ninja

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”

“Who would send a ninja after you?”

“Oh I know things. I spent an afternoon in 2005 reading 9/11 conspiracy theories online. They can track that sort of thing now. Of course it was all bollocks, but they don’t know I thought that.”

“So your theory is the American government sent a 15th century feudal Japanese warrior to kill you for reading information on a public website which you don’t even believe?

“HE COULD STILL BE IN THE ROOM!”

“Fine, I’m awake. But what makes you say it’s a “he”?”

“Oh I see, my life is in abject peril and it takes a unnecessarily specific pronoun to stir you?”

“Words matter. Your whining does not.”

“I may not be able to look down, but I can still look down on you. And as such I OH GOD I SEE A LIGHT!”

“I just turned on the light.”

“Oh good, good. I just OH GOD I FEEL DEATH’S FROZEN HAND UPON MY CHEST!”

“That’s my hand”

“Oh good. I wondered why death was tweaking my nipple.”

“Look, there’s no ninja, you’re fine.”

“You’re right. Although as a ninja, turning the light on wouldn’t make us any more likely to see him”.

“Or her.”

photo credit: Ninja stance. via photopin (license)