On Wednesday morning, the gates to the world’s most notorious adult playground were flung open. Sat at home loaded up on opioids with a 5-inch scar down my shoulder, I scowled at the sky bemoaning what might have been. Spread out on a sofa with my maternity pillow, I wished the revellers plague pestilence and famine.
Three days later I came to on the same sofa, after one of the great weekends of my life.
A weekend were mainly wealthy middle class youngsters who want for nothing spend the weekend in a field listening to wealthy out of touch musicians preaching left wing bile.
Ex British Army Paz49
You tell em, Paz.
Having given up a ticket 3 days before, I was in no mood to celebrate. As I watched revellers get loose on a sun-drenched Friday from the sofa, I found myself siding with Paz. What a waste of resources, bunch of reprobates in a field. I wondered if storm clouds would descend and wash it out.
On Saturday morning with that bone-dry enthusiasm of the self-piteous, I took down some codeine, decided to watch more festival coverage. If only to dampen my mood. The sun was out. My scowl was ready.
I flicked the stages and settled on Park. Some girl in a rather ridiculous gold stretchy latex thing was moving around. Kids these days I gurned. She got out a violin at one point. I listened on. And on. Oh God.
This is good.
This is really good.
Van Gogh would fall in love every day. In his youth my friend Jonty would spy a girl in a coffee shop who would proceed to live rent free in his head for a week. These flights of fancy were not alien to me. Watching the screen doing my damndest to contain the serotonin, I found myself falling.
Violon solo over, she sang the words…
The space behind the sky, on which the darkness depends on.
I thought about the sun, and how everything the light touches, is because at that moment the earth spins into the sun’s gaze. And spinning out again we are shrouded by night, but the night is really just the immensity of dark foreboding space. So stars were the beacons on life, centres of solar systems, around which planets danced.
I looked back at the stage. Around it she moved, reflecting the light like a golden shining sun.
I was in love.
The crowd watched her in awe. I watched them. Something happened. Suddenly I was no longer on a sofa in Hackney. I was there in the field. Shades on. Beaming. We were one. United in the glory of the moment. Paz was missing a trick.
They ended with 50/50, a certified banger. To rapturous applause they thanked us and disappeared round the back. I thought about the exhilaration of walking off having just played your first Glastonbury. With strangers, new friends, we wandered around the place, supping beer, basking in the midsummer sun.
Everyone went back to the tents to freshen up. See you in a few hours, I said, hit them with the peace sign, went to the fridge. Alone in my flat, I felt the pang of first love. I googled Jockstrap. Within an hour I knew the band’s history, had read interviews, watched shaky camera concert footage, listened to the album twice over, and as the sun began to lower in the sky, my cheeks creased with moist-eyed joy.
Since breaking a shoulder up a hill in France, I’d felt despondent. And watching the world inhale the wonder of a festival I’d given up a ticket to, I felt envy. But music and the discovery of that afternoon was making something absent for a while pour light in, into a place too long in shadow. I told my mate Tommy M the story of my crush. Sat there on his sofa, he replied.
There was something about the music of these two 24yr olds, the freedom of it, that reminded me of youth, of my twenties, of feeling confused but beatingly alive, the feeling triggered every time I cycled down through Deptford and New Cross, the smell of air after rain. When you get older things get taken from you, says Pacino in Any Given Sunday. But this was a madeleine moment. What we had was real. I wondered if she felt it too.
Music will save the world.
That night I got absolutely railed at Leftfield. Park Stage 8pm. The next thing as joyous to rushing your tits off as the lightshow goes bananas at one of the great music festivals, is watching a thousand plus people with shades on do it. They played the bangers. Afro-Left, Song of Life, Rhythm and Stealth. Out of nowhere in the middle of the maelstrom, this guy pulls a Blue Steel and my heart fills with happiness.
I wondered where she was, if she was resting up from running through my mind all day.
I hit the pillow and swam in dreams of golden violins.
I woke up buzzing from the night before. Everyone had stayed out until sunrise but I’d got an early one, called it quits when the BBC programming stopped at eleven. Staggered back to my bedroom fuzzy from three beers, full of memories of the joy of feeling alive. What a set, what a moment.
Sunday was muggy, nice respite after the intense heat of Saturday. Strangely enough sitting on a sofa all day inside with a fan doesn’t submit one to much risk of UV. But a part of me was bereft. Nothing could top the encounter of the day before.
I fished out a 0.5% from the fridge, made my way into the festival, my heart was heavy. Where was she, I wondered. Had she noticed me, staring into the camera, all those miles away on the sofa. Could attraction so great bend the laws of physics. I longed to see her one more time. Weird how, when you most need it, the Big Man in the sky can answer your call.
Watching a very cool band called Black Country, New Road, there she was. We locked eyes immediately. Gone was the gold, more demure this time, the violin was out.
This was too much for one codeine-addled Sunday, I decided to cool off in the shower. With Elton incoming I took a well-earned repose. I had gone through the whole gamut of emotions. My new festival experience showed me something else, how much could be gleaned from moving all of ten metres, sofa to fridge and back to sofa. Rest. Repeat. If we are living in a simulation, which Elon seems to think is highly likely, frankly why waste the energy.
But how to play it.
Assessing the situation, I concluded it was a long shot. When I was graduating from university she was 4. Hold on, did I even graduate. I was forty in a month, had failed my driving test last year, and at times when I was very relaxed and not paying attention I sucked my thumb. She could do better. I realised love is messy, that the only real love worth its salt was the collective love of mankind.
The love shown to Lewis Capaldi when he couldn’t finish his set. The love coursing through the night sky as Elton played banger after banger, that was so palpable you could feel it coming through the television. What a fantastical place it was. You should check it out Paz, you might learn something about feeling good once in a while. If you hate on love, all you got is hate son. Rick Astley said it, I think there might be something magical going on here, like actually magical.
As the ardour of that first love began to quell, I thought of the odyssey I’d been through, and how that quote I’d read was probably on the money. You don’t miss the person, you miss the feeling. I wondered if you could get a restraining order from a blogpost.
If you’re reading this.
Go live your life, you’re too good for me. Butterflies are free to fly, sang Elton, fly away, bye bye. I’ll pick up the pieces of my broken heart and move off into the arms of an alternate destiny. Great festival experience though.
A 36hr love affair from the back of a sofa, I’ll take it.