I had no intention of starting University a virgin… a Festival virgin that is.
I had no intention of starting University a virgin… a Festival virgin that is. I could hardly claim anything else what with being the mother of two daughters who are already University students themselves. So when my brother-in-law, David, a dedicated Rhythm and Blues follower, suggested Tom and I join him and my sister Fiona at the Colne R & B Festival over the August Bank holiday weekend, my eyes lit up.
We drove up from London to their home in Lincolnshire on the Friday night to have a ‘planning meeting’ AKA a fish and chip supper, whilst working out what to pack for our camping adventure. It was one of the most entertaining meetings in a long time during which the conversation turned to what to do if us girlies needed a wee in the night. It was alright for the men to look puzzled and suggest just stepping out of the tent, but pointing and pissing into a pre-designated spot is not an option if you are female – or maybe that’s just in our family? It’s a trick I’ve certainly never mastered. Following much hilarity from the men a plastic Ribena bottle was recovered from the recycle box by the comedians, at which point Fiona and I decided we would just limit the beer drinking from about 9 p.m. It would be safer.
A planned early start found me in the kitchen the following morning watching Fiona carefully slicing, with a hot skewer, the aforementioned bottle to a ‘knock off’ copy of the patented ‘She Wee’. (For those not in the know, this is an amazing device marketing around £10.00 for us females…never get caught out again.) The thought of not having her full quota of beer had obviously kept her awake. She was burning it instead of cutting it, ‘to avoid any sharp edges on the bottom’. David suggested he could file these away for her. I trust he meant on the bottle. I settled on a milk carton – it looked more female friendly.
We arrived in Lancashire and pitched up the tent at Colne Rugby Club. It was a short walk into town to the International Stage and other venues. We later found out that all the venues were indoors. How civilised! Although there would be no mentioning that to our children who were ‘hardcoring’ it at Leeds. We settled on a story of, ‘It stayed dry during the bands.’ Fact. Speaking of bands, we were handed our wristbands for the day and we settled into some plush seats in the Muni Hall. This was a theatre style building with floor space for revellers to lose themselves in the music. We chose the comfy seats at the top until our chosen band were on. An opportunity to people-watch, suss out the scene-and doze off should this be necessary. (Which dear kids, it was not).
Amongst the names on the first night were Sandy Thom, Nalle and his Crazy Ivans and Magic Slim. The unexpected hit being Nalle. Looking at them assembled on stage I thought we were about to be subjected to a R & B rendition of the Worzels; four chairs placed rather sedately across the front of the stage in a straight line. They entered wearing dungarees, check shirts and straw hats (or did I imagine the hats?) We all looked at each other thinking, ‘now is the time to doze.’ How wrong we were. A talented, experienced bunch of musicians – you couldn’t help but join in.
We chose to wander off and get something to eat during the break. We found an Indian takeaway that had hurriedly (due to the weekend crowds) put together a few plastic garden chairs and flung a dirty cream plastic cloth over some fold up formica tables. Ta da! A restaurant. A ‘festival special’ was dished up at a bargain price and the choice was immense. Although as Tom pointed out, it was really, one sauce, immense choice of colour. It hit the spot and beat being caught out by the ‘burger burglars’ at Leeds who apparently charge the earth because you are stuck on sight.
The evening was spent downing more beers back at the Muni whilst listening to the chillin’ sounds of Magic Slim.
A walk back to camp soon found us queuing for a hot cuppa and sausage bap before hitting the delights of the tent. The noise from the adjacent tee pee was amusing … for a while. Poor girl must have been knackered by the morning. It was painful to listen to though. I was sorely tempted to get up and go and give her partner a Sat Nav.
It rained all night but it didn’t worry us hardy campers. The Ribena bottle never got used and my milk carton proved hopeless. I won’t go into detail but thank goodness Co-op plastic bags don’t have holes in them.
We cooked bacon and egg for breakfast, the rain having stopped and enjoyed a glass of red to wash it down with. I guess its middle age rock and roll. We just had time to pack away and head to town for the main attraction of the weekend, Poppa Chubby, doing a session at the Muni. If you know of Poppa Chubby you may know where his name derives from. If not, then Google it- you won’t be disappointed. He is a 50 year old New Yorker with an extraordinary talent for guitar playing. The faces he can pull whilst ‘talking’, maybe even ‘making love’ to his instrument know no bounds. Track him down and listen to him – you will be life long fans.
We had an evening meal at an Italian restaurant, (again if the children ask, we are just kidding) and then went to the Acoustic stage where a Rockabilly group, ‘The Cats’ were performing. The musical talent was limited, but the energy, ability to play the crowd and the sheer novelty of watching this group perform on a stage the size of a plectrum was gold in itself. The whole pub was rocking well into the Monday morning and the double bass player needed to be wrung out afterwards.
Sipping our coffee back in the tent we were ready for some shut eye. Unfortunately the tent next to ours had picked up some stray sex starved teenager which they were obviously now regretting. They sat outside, way into the wee small hours listening to her lead every conversation round to sex. From Victorian women’s attitude to sex, to the fact that she shaves every day, (everywhere), to making it clear her house (address given) was empty of guardians for the weekend should anyone wish to take her there. Apparently they didn’t want to take her anywhere. A shame, I might have got some sleep. She’d ‘had joints’ and had ‘taken cocaine’ and was off to University this September. Thankfully not the one I was attending.
As we BBQ’d through our last supplies and packed away our tents the next morning (no burning rituals going on here) we straightened up our stories for the Leeds crowd and mulled over what a chilling experience it had been. From Poppa Chubby through to the Crazy Ivans I can now say I’ve been there – and I have the T-shirt too! Which funnily enough you may find me wearing around campus…