Man, I am so happy to have left behind my twenties. I struggled through those years really not liking myself very much, not knowing myself very well, and not looking after myself as well as I should have. Thank f*ck I made it to my thirties. Yes, there are also challenges particular to this decade, but I know myself so much better now. I know that I need a certain amount of space, comfort and privacy in order to stay sane. I know that if I start feeling self-conscious, drinking more is not the solution. And if I feel like a cup of tea while everyone around me is drinking cocktails, I am just going to go ahead and get a frickin' cup of tea and I honestly couldn't give a toss what anyone else thinks about that. I LOVE TEA.
All of this is to lead up to the point of my post today, which is that I really enjoyed Bestival. Way more than I ever expected to enjoy a festival. Yes, it was dusty and dirty. Yes, there was a terribly long and painfully slow queue for the loo's in the morning. Naturally, there were noisy people who made sleeping difficult. And it was so cold at night that my bones ached even with 3 pairs of leggings under my tracksuit pants. At times it did feel like an endurance task.
All of those things are part and parcel of the festival experience, non? I knew what to expect in terms of the level of physical discomfort. I had prepared myself as best I could (toilet paper, baby wipes, antibacterial gel, wellies, my own tent). What I didn't expect was that I would spend quite so much time giggling like a school-girl with my friends; or that I would find myself dancing like an idiot in an outdoor rave one evening, deliriously sober; or that the crowd would excell even my wild imagination with their incredible costumes.
Saturday was a constant colourful parade of amazingly outfitted people, like a mass hallucination taking place in broad daylight. There were Judy Jetsons and Ziggy Stardusts and astronauts galore. There was a Lady Smurf, a group of monkeys in space outfits, a female Predator, and a man who simply wore a giant ear on the front of his t-shirt, with a sign saying "last in stock" above it (think about it). There were meteors and mars bars and milky ways and black holes. We saw several Buzz Lightyears but only one with a life-size toy grabber (he was attempting to grab one of the Thunderbirds crew when I last saw him). We were mugged by men clad in full-body (including head and face) morph suits in various hues one afternoon. They appeared like a scary hallucination and, probably sensing our fear, made their way over to hug us en-masse until the day-bed we had been reclining on collapsed under our combined weight.
I think perhaps the secret to a good festival is not to put any pressure on yourself. There were really only a few acts that we made a point of going to see - Florence and the Machine*, Friendly Fires, Jack Peñate, Fleet Foxes - and the rest of the time we wandered happily unfettered by a schedule, lazing in the sun, doing a bit of hula-hooping, but mostly checking out the utterly gob-smackingly amazing crowd. We went to bed when we were tired and/or cold, rather than forcing ourselves to stick around to see the last acts. I didn't even feel guilty laying in my tent on Sunday evening, warm at last after stuffing my sleeping bag with every piece of clothing I'd brought with me, as I was lulled to sleep by the sweet sounds of Elbow playing the main stage.
Go ahead and judge me. My twenty-year-old self certainly would have.
My overall Bestival experience? Much fun and many memories that are making me laugh out loud right now. I would share them with you, but I'm guessing you had to be there.
*For the Flo fans, I totally get "You've Got the Love" now. I had thought it was a bit of an insipid and unecessary closer to an album full of belters, but no: it's just meant to be played to a field full of happy people who are feeling the love, against a backdrop of the gloriously setting sun.
Our Festival Glossary:
Foldies: The Festival stalwarts. People who attended the original Glastonbury in 1970 and aren't ready to give up the dream. Characterised by long greying hair and doped-up smiles.
Fluts: Festival sluts. Generally wearing tiny shorts and big hair, with rings of dark make-up around the eyes. Working their way up to Groupie.
Eninens: Nice n' normals (that would be us). Like a cider (or a tea), are careful not to tread on anyone, bring their own camp chairs.
Festies: Proper dread-locked, bare-footed hippies with dirt caked under their nails.
Frents: the über-cool parents who bring tiny children along to the festival so that they can learn all about the effects of excessive drinking and drug-taking first hand, while being exposed to the educational ditties of the Klaxons.