I am all too aware of the awesomeness of a good festival. Year after year I have watched my friends skip merrily off with flowers in their hair and ribbons on their wrists for long weekends of music, sunshine and hippy love. However I’ve always stayed away. The unthinkable sanitary arrangements, risk of mud floods and desperate fear of sleeping with spiders have kept me well away. But this year I turned 30 and in predictable knee-jerk defiance, I decided that life is too short, and I wanted some festival fun! “If I see a spider I’ll stamp it flat, it’s not going to rain in June, and I will simply deal with the toilet situation because I am adventurous and intrepid.”
Here are my lessons learned:
The hair. Long-established festival advice tells us to take dry shampoo because festival hair gets juicy. Yes girls, dry shampoo is your friend. And if you have brown hair like me, take the brown version. The extra £1 will payback when you’re blindly free-spraying the can at your head morning and night. Accept and embrace face paint, glitter, hay (etc.) inexplicably but firmly onto your scalp. And there.will.be.knots. I could advise that it’s best to keep hair up in a bun and out of the way, but I have to have my hair down to dance, there’s no other way. Hair down in the fun zone, please.
Baby wipes and anti-bacterial gel both get special mention, thank you both, you saved my life. But be warned, when you don’t wash your hands with actual water-water, your fingernails start to look like a farm boy’s. No amount of hand gel could remove the mank that accumulated under my nails. I had to scrub with a toothbrush when I got home and then burn the toothbrush.
Do not forget waterproof things. Because I cried when Damon Albarn cried. And I cried when Pharrell did Happy. Plus your rain mac and wellies, because on Friday the sky emptied and it rained solidly for 12 hours. On the plus side the heavy downpour hammering on the tent all night did drown out any whimpers of despair.
I was not prepared for the absurd extremes of temperature. During the witching hour everything drops to freezing, so you end up grabbing for everything within reach and pulling it around your body for warmth. And then at 7am the tent heats up and you’re flinging off the accumulated towels, hoodies, plastic bags and popping both legs out of the sleeping bag like nobody’s business.
I had to deal with stuff being everywhere. Make-up out of make-up bag, wet towels on the bed, clothes screwed up in the corner, crumbs in the sleeping bag. This was painful as I have an OCD obsession with tidiness and a life of perfect order. But oddly purifying, in that I was promising myself that if I ever did get through it I was going to live my life differently. I do feel exorcised. My flat has been quite untidy for a week since getting back and those that know me say this is progress.
I found I was able to elicit the love and support of random others simply by telling them it was my first festival. People look after you and want you to have a good time, and it’s so nice! The people love the people! And it turns out the more glitter/neon/spandex you can wear the better. Fancy dress is a total winner, and a co-ordinated group fancy dress theme, even better. Saturday was super sunny and when you’re dressed up in showy bonkers brilliance, everyone loves you!
And finally, I found an absolute colossal momma spider and her two chunky, practically mammalian babies in the bottom of my backpack when I was packing up on the Monday morning, which made things easier as I simply sent the bag to hell where it belonged and took the ferry home empty-handed like a boss.