Every summer I perform at a bunch of music festivals; its one of my favourite times of year. This year I was heading out with my mates Duncan, Lewis and Omar for a weekend packed with festivals. The plan was:
Thursday -- Peterborough Beer Festival
Friday -- Leeds
Saturday -- Shambala
Sunday -- Reading
The journey was perilous; the itinerary ambitious, but we're four (relatively) competent adults.. What could possibly go wrong?
A lot, as it turns out. After crawling like a sloth up the A1 we made it to Leeds an hour later than expected - with less than 10 minutes to go before I was due on stage. That left no time for a rehearsal and the poor tech guys struggled with my convoluted last minute powerpoint demands, Luckily the crowd were really cool. Thanks to everyone who came along!
On to Shambala for a wicked 24 hours - minus the 40 bottles of beer and couple litres of spirits we had confiscated because of the no glass rule we'd forgotten about. After a very warm welcome from the charming storytelling tent crew & audience, I ran a monstrous battle rap workshop. We had 50 or so festival goers battling it out as famous monsters to discover which of the beasts was the biggest and baddest of all time. Despite some tough competition from Voldemort, a monster called Chris (who was made of twiglets and hummus) and even Rupert Murdoch (!). The Hydras came out on top - not only our youngest winners so far, but also our youngest ever competitors too!
I got to perform a short set in the evening, which meant I also got to hang around backstage at The Wandering Word for a while. Honestly, the Wandering Word family (and it really is a family) are incredible. I also met John Hegley for the first time, which was quite a big deal for me - I used to read/watch his work way before I ever dreamt of doing this for a living. I tried out this new piece about Indiana Jones films on stage that night and he said that he liked it - and he even offered me a bourbon, so I was pretty stoked!
That night - perhaps on a bourbon high - I partied pretty hard.I also took my only photo of the entire weekend, and it doesn't really tell much of a story. I like to think of it as our weekend's Mona Lisa, though. Ladies and Gentlemen, here's my mate Lewis:
It was such a great night, but we partied WAY too hard. I woke up the next morning feeling really rough and slightly lighter - it turns out that I'd lost my car keys. Not only could we not get home, but I also had no idea how to get to my gig at Reading Festival that afternoon.
It was probably the most stressful morning I've had all year. The keys hadn't been handed in and we couldn't find any sign of them in the forest (where we'd mostly been hanging out). I was acutely aware that I'd been pushing it on time for my Leeds gig and I needed to make sure I really smashed this one - or at least turned up on time.
In the end I was saved by the legendary Jonny Fluffypunk and his incredible wife Katherine who let me borrow their car - which is so kind of them, particularly as I only know Jonny a little from a couple of gigs over the past year or so. If my tour of poets' graves has taught me anything, it's that poets throughout history would write about being decent to each other whilst also being a bit shitty to people. It's pretty cool to meet a poet who writes about being decent to each other (check it out!), but who also does really bloody nice things for people too. Honestly, I'd have been stuffed without Johnny and Katherine's help.
So, finally, off the back of a huge act of kindness WE MADE IT! Reading was WICKED. Such a cool crowd and I loved trying out some new bits and pieces. If you were there THANK YOU! That was definitely one of the most fun gigs I've had all year - no doubt made all the more exhilarating by the stress we went through to get there.
As for the car? Well, my parents were right to enforce AA cover on me - we managed to get a guy called Mark to rescue us on his tow truck. The photo below is me sheepishly waiting outside my own house (and wife) whilst Mark dropped off my car.