12 August 2015


There is something very British about a summer of festivals. To me, anyway. It was only when I moved back here in my early 20s that I knew that this festival thing was…a thing. My summers in America were certainly not characterised by festivals. But over the summer months here, everyone goes to festivals or knows someone going to a festival, for a few days or even just one day, or as many festivals as they can possibly squeeze in.

My first here was the mother of English festivals: Glastonbury. I think it was about 2004. Naively, my friend and I arrived on a Friday night after blagging a couple of tickets from a friend. We rocked up and pitched her tent in the dark pretty much on a pathway. The sun that weekend was glorious, the two days we spent there magnificent and mind-blowing. I was to return every following summer for the next 5 or 6 years. None ever matched that first in terms of glorious sun. During a subsequent Glastonbury our tent was pitched just shy of the lake that formed overnight due to the rain and consumed countless tents. Banksy famously placed a couple of shark fins in that lake for all to see the comedy in the situation.

I ended up running a stall at various festivals with the same friend I first went to Glasto with for a couple of years and I had another view of the phenomenon. It was hard work and involved many long drives over the course of the season; we were subject to the weather in a different way: if it was shit, you not only had to worry about keeping yourself warm, dry and happy, but you had to think about keeping all of your stock warm, dry and happy. But you do it because you have to.

And here is the thing I love most… The UK is famed for pretty rubbish weather and an unpredictable, often short summer during which the sun really shines and you can actually wear those sandals and dresses that they begin cruelly and absurdly advertising in shop windows from April onwards. Even as I write this in August, that time seems to have all but passed. …And yet, the British public flocks en masse to green (or slushy brown) fields to hear music, dance (and get a little or a lot wrecked) and it goes NO MATTER WHAT. It puts on a brave face, embraces the mud and gets down and dirty.

This year’s Womad was one of those times where the weather was not in our favour but people pick themselves up, put on their wellies, shake off the mud and get down to the funky music (or sway in a respectable fashion if that’s what the music they’re listening to calls for).

And I was one of those people for a little while. But on the first occasion ever, I pulled the plug a day early.

Womad I love you but little feet in little wellies don’t do so well with lots of mud ☹