Anyone who has been to festivals, will have that strange love hate relationship with them, for days you hate the fact you try to sleep in a cold tent, with so much noise you barely get any shut eye at all. The fact that you are dwelling in mud, have to use the worst toilets ever, look like a tramp and don't smell much better. It never feels to great lets be honest. Yet somehow there is that attraction that makes you want to do it again and again, and despite all the complaints and the longing to have a decent shower and to take a crap in a real toilet, you somehow miss it all when you walk away from the festival site for the very last time.
For me festivals are about the friends you go with and the people you meet. I won't lie, you can meet some great people who you never see again, equally if you are lucky you will make some great new friends, and for me it has been a fabulous year for that. (camp word used especially for Gayle). There of course is always the fear that you will be camped next to the festival assholes... and trust me there is enough of them, yet to date I have always been quite lucky.
I set off knowing I would ultimately be camping (different camp word - in the not so gay sense this time) with my mate and fellow music promoter Allan Sargeant. There are two things that are really cool about this, firstly the shouts of "Alan..... Steve" which plagued the site all weekend pretty much drove him insane - it was rather funny I won't lie. Secondly, Allan is great, we have a very similar taste in music, so this was also going to work out well. We were also joined by Jonny - a fellow drama students other half who I have got to know quite well over the last few months, who is one crazy mofo, but an amazing guy and his friend Jonesy. It was all set to be a pretty small circle, so I really wasn't sure what to expect from the camping side of things this year. But this is Reading... expect the unexpected.
The circle soon expanded, with two lads from Birmingham named Zach and Jordan, (who were later joined by Juliet and even later Mickie - she has really cool green hair) and two students from Southampton named Gayle and Ross making up our little collective for 2012. These six were not known to myself or Allan, yet were absolute legends, I could not have asked for nicer neighbours. We all got on amazingly well, shared our alcohol and banter. I can say from the heart that this was the best circle of people I have ever had at a festival, and in my infamous and over used words of this festival huge lad points to all of them (Gayle, Mickie and Juliet included... lad points can be scored by girls also!). So in all before the music had even started I was set for one of the best festivals to date. The people always make a huge difference and I was lucky enough to be camping with the best of the best - absolute legends, all of them!
What I really love about the festival spirit, is you mix with people who in normal circumstances you might never give a chance too, people from different places, different backgrounds and of different ages. It makes you realise that if you treat people for who they are and take them at face value rather than worrying about barriers, you can make some amazing friends. It goes without saying that we are all planning to meet up again next year if not before!
I guess the only thing that went against us at this festival was the weather. There was mud, lots of mud, and where there wasn't mud there was sludgey puddles. Sure, you might say that it can't be a festival without mud, but it gets a bit old after a while, and welly boots are REALLY uncomfortable when you wear them for days on end. It rained a lot on Thursday and Friday, which dragged down the atmosphere a little - this said, Gayle and Ross ended up with their own garden pond by their tent porch - I am sure that is something estate agents look for in houses... water features surely add value to a property?
The circle was sludgy, but that didn't stop the camp fires (I like to burn things) and the chance to have a good time (and a few beers... ok a lot of beers - excluding the beers bought from arenas, I think between us it was something like 14 cases or more). For some reason Saturdays seems to always be the day I pull an all nighter, and this time around it was with Zach, Juliet, 2 new neighbours whos names I forget. The camp fire was epic, I kept it burning for almost 8 hours - thats a mean feet if you are drinking I assure you! Later we were joined by Joe and Alex from the festival campsite assistance team - they were great guys, even though security did have a go at them for hanging out with us for far too long. They joined us again on the Sunday night none the less, kind of gutted I never grabbed their facebook's or something really. They were right legends - never be put off by the Reading campsite staff in the green jackets - they are the cool lot, the reds and whites are the assholes generally.
Soooooo.... BHS 11 item breakfasts for £3.59, far too much money spent on shitty festival food, amazing new friends, legendary old friends, smelly toilets, lots of mud, camp fire stories, lots of beer and plenty of cider. Everything was perfect, now all we needed was the music... but that can wait for another blog. I need to hibernate now to make up for all the lost sleep of the last 5 nights. Part 2 of this blog will follow in the next day or two.