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Events, Music, Reviews

Latitude Festival, Part 1

My First Festival.

I’ve been to concerts and gigs, but not a festival. I was expecting mud and music. There were other things in between.

I’m not writing my memoirs here, so let’s keep to the fallback beloved by Powerpoint presenters everywhere — the bullet-point list. Except without bullet points. Here’s Latitude Festival 2011.

Saw a sign advertising “Horse Poo” on the cross-country drive. They didn’t even try to disguise it as manure. Which is fair enough, because the last thing you want to do with poo is disguise it. (Actually, there are loads more things you don’t want to do with poo, but you get the idea).

Got lost in London. Not even in London, but on the M25 Orbital. I’m sure at one point I turned off it and rejoined in the other direction, only to find myself on a completely different M25, with roadworks and a tunnel I hadn’t driven up previously. That led to the M11, where I mistakenly saw a truck depot as a turning point, and had to wait in line between giant lorries to be graciously let through the barrier. Finally managed to find the right direction (south), and sympathized with a poor learner driver having about as much luck with the roads as me.

Left the car in Hastings to be driven (chauffered!) to Suffolk by Jo. Mostly I was the navigator both of the map and of the iPod, whose wonky dock needed to be continually wedged into the cigarette lighter. The playlist was, of course, Latitude-focused, which meant lots of Bombay Bicycle Club, Eels and the Leisure Society. I introduced Jo to Thea Gilmore.

The tent was easy enough to construct once we’d worked out which size pole went into which section. We pitched up just across from the toilets (with metal doors whose hobbies included flinging themselves at the wind, and incubating a variety of bodily smells in their cubicles). The loos were fenced off with colour-coded flags, making them look more like forts in a giant game of capture-the-flag — though I don’t think anyone was in a rush to claim ownership of those particular facilities.

Went for a look at the main ground at around nine pm. I was mostly expecting the arenas separated by a few burger vans and portaloos. I didn’t expect the funfair. All those stalls and marquees and attractions; the light show over the bridge; the secret arenas and trails stuck in the middle of the forests… I should have expected it, of course, and it was a nice surprise. Had an ostrich burger on the way around. Very nice. Like beef plus.

Was baffled by the Electric Hotel, which seems to have gone national, and was continually mentioned throughout the festival guide book. What we saw as a dilapidated site building with faulty electrics is apparently a living art installation, where viewers sit with headphones outside the hotel, listening in on the goings-on inside.

Boringly, we had an early night. (We’d been travelling for hours!) The tent only needed a little getting used to, though I remain as ever just that tiny bit too big for my sleeping bags.

To be continued!

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