The V Festival

Posted on August 18, 2014

When I went to the first V Festival in Chelmsford in 1997, the last thing that entered my mind was that some 17 years later I would going again with my two lads, George and Harry, along with George’s mate Alex.

Even more bizarre than that, is the fact that I saw performing, the object of my first sexual fantasy (Blondie) some 35 years after a poster of her on my sisters bedroom wall confirmed heterosexuality as my sexual orientation.

However, when I was 11, Blondie was 33 and I can confirm that because she is now 68, my feelings towards her are not quite as erotic as they once were…In fact, they are not erotic at all.

I imagine she is distraught.


Festival Fun: Me George and Harry

So, moving on, we soon discovered that wherever we pitched our tents, everywhere was a fair old hike, so we just gave up trying to be clever and literally just pitched them where there was a spare yard.

Friday night was a non live music event but there were plenty of parties kicking off and the bars were open, so we did some meandering and drinking before I went to bed after a few too many and left the boys to it as they went off to a silent disco.

It soon became apparent that everything was ludicrously over priced and after discovering that George and Harry had turned up totally penniless, I had to take action and get to a supermarket before I was forced into liquidation.

We discovered an ASDA not far away in the picturesque town of Telford (that is a joke) and after filling up a trolley with food, we changed our plans and just had a huge fry up instead…To discover we could spend each morning having a £4.50 breakfast and access to clean toilets was like striking gold.

It’s hard to remember what order I saw everything on the Saturday but I did see, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbot, The Killers (some of them) Embrace, The Rizzle Kicks and Lily Allen.

Lily Allen was pretentious and shit, Paul Heaton was excellent but I am biased (though the boys enjoyed him too) I neither hate or like The Killers, Embrace were superb and the Rizzle Kicks, a band I know little of, were absolutely outstanding.

We then went to a silent disco where, for the first time, I felt out of my depth, as it was also the first time I felt old, probably outdoing the next eldest person by 25 years; I felt like crying, so I went back to the tent and drank some more and started getting all melancholic and having conversations with myself as I pissed up a metal fence.

Not only was I old, I was a weirdo.

In between this window self-indulgence, I had intervened in a fight between George and Harry (with the help of Alex) but it all got sorted out quite quickly. Unlike girls of that age, boys can’t be arsed with grudges and they were soon best pals again, thankfully.

So, Sunday came quickly, with another ASDA breakfast lending some energy to another day of not really knowing what to expect apart from Alex handing me multitudes of Jaeger bombs as a starter to proceedings.

We left it to Harry to go and watch All Saints whom he confirmed were awful and I then went off to meet him and to take a look at The Kaiser Chiefs. Harry only stayed for a bit, choosing to see what Sophie Ellis Bexter had to offer, an error of judgement on his part as The Kaiser Chiefs know how to play a gig and the Virgin Media Stage was absolutely jumping.

The Kaiser Chiefs: Excellent entertainment at the Virgin Media Stage

After that came a surprise and a classic example of how luck can turn a bands way at a festival. Just as Bastille were to follow up the Kaiser Chiefs, the rain hammered down, soaking everyone in sight and sending them scurrying for shelter.

Everywhere you looked people were dashing towards the shelter of the Arena Tent, and Bastille’s misfortune (though they were still well supported) turned into outrageous luck for veteran 80’s electric popsters The Human League.

They seized their moment with a brilliant set of old classics (Electric Dreams, Mirror Man and Don’t You Want Me?) that got everyone, young and old, dancing and singing along. I’m no Human League fan but sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say..“That was bloody good entertainment.” 

Cheered by this 80’s nostalgia trip, I went of to see Blondie, the source of my early years erotica, but sadly, I was disappointed to be honest. I just couldn’t get into it, it seemed so tired, so I retired to the bar to have a couple of pints.

At this point I was missing the lads a bit as they were watching other stuff and I must admit to feeling a bit lonely as I decided whether to watch Justin Timberlake with them or Elbow on my own.

I opted for Elbow and immediately found myself in good company with the group around me as I witnessed a great gig that really lifted my flagging energy supplies.

I thought Elbow might be a bit middle England for me but they weren’t, they were brilliant from the start right up to to a wonderful climax with “One Day Like This” an epic festival song that had everyone singing and swaying with uplifting joy.

That song makes me cry.

The Ultimate Festival Finale: Elbow Conducting a Willing Audience

So, as we packed away in the rain this morning, I reflected on what a great weekend I had just had with my two sons and my surrogate son Alex.

There was laughter, arguments, piss taking, boozing, dancing, singing and general larking around with three lads who were never ashamed to be with me, an old git, and I was proud to be with all three of them. They are great lads enjoying youth like they should be.

No amount of money can buy a weekend like the one I have just had.

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