Brief encounters: re-visiting acquaintances from a year gone by – 15/01/17

I finished my journal a couple of weeks ago in a weird coincidence that obeyed the rules of the Gregorian calendar. Completing a notebook is a similar feeling to finishing a book, except with extra hand cramp. Before the final pages had been filled, I re-read it, and was reminded of some characters I briefly met that had a weirdly profound and lasting effect on me. Here are words summing them up. 

Festival goers inhale laughing gas at sunrise at the stone circle on the second day of Glastonbury music festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset

To the boy with a shaved head trying to flog two bags of coke and ket at Glastonbury this year – congrats! You’ve made my top three brief encounters of 2016. How are you? I’ve been reminded of you more than once since June, and each time I am, it makes me smile a bit. This might sound a bit VICE, but I’ve never met someone so into drugs in such an excessive way, and the way you went about it was admirable and a bit brilliant.
I went all heart eyes for your infectious joie de vivre, which – in a field of festival-goers – wasn’t sparse, but yours seemed totally authentic: committed to the (chemical) cause. We were all sat at the Stone Circle during the Sunday night/Monday morning merge, and I let you kiss me a tiny bit while I was holding the hand of a newly-instated friend I’d first met earlier that day, who lay passed out on the grass among all the popping canisters. You were giggling with your best mate the whole time I was there: a right pair, out of your heads, hopelessly devoted to each other.

You were supposed to be working the get-out for Coldplay’s closing set in a few hours’ time, but decided to (rather sensibly) sack it off and continue to cane it instead. Hope the two of you had a mad sesh planned for New Year’s Eve. And, separately, to the group of sixth form boys we met in the whiskey tent at 6am, drowsy on Valium, I hope you passed your A-levels. You will all be fine.


To the man I met outside Liverpool St. station in September holding a bag full of meat, I hope you got on with your brother all right. We met when I was waiting to meet a friend for lunch, and you were sat there looking noticeably nervous, with a plastic bag filled to the brim with pork.

You told me you were waiting to meet your brother who you hadn’t seen for nine years – and you’d just come from a charcuterie class. Whatever it takes to calm your nerves, I suppose. I’m glad I was there to witness the physical reunion of you both, experiencing a truly dramatic Slice of (Someone Else’s) Life.

I hope the rest of your date went as swimmingly as the reception did, and I wonder if you spent Christmas together. If so, I really hope you supplied the Christmas ham.

Alejandro*, my first crush on a Catalan boy that took place in Berlin during August, thanks for stepping in to my summer trip at exactly the right time – when I desperately needed someone to make out with at all the major sightseeing spots. Sorry I got so uptight about you not paying the train fare to go to east Berlin for the day, but I’m quite into paying for public transport (and secretly riding the S-Bahn was an affordable tourist attraction I was more than willing to pay for). Not paying did make you look really cool though.

Perhaps the most romantic thing that’s ever happened to me was when I walked you to the train station in the morning so you could jump the train to Amsterdam (transport troubadour), but then you called an hour later to say you were back at the hostel – and would I like to go to the zoo? (Answer: always yes.) You were my total guy for three days, and I will never forget that time in the Photoautomat booth. Happy new year, babe.

*Names have been changed to protect only the innocent

Pre-nups and preludes – an intro to a review of Bat for Lashes’ The Bride – 10/7/16

I tend to only write about albums I really love, because, quite frankly, I feel it is worth my time to do so. When I get to a time in my life where I have a spare hot second in the day to write reviews upon reviews upon reviews, only then will I critique things that don’t quench my musical thirst at first – but only then. Anyway, I’ve loved Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan since I was a bat-wing-jumper-wearing, bright-red-hair-donning, teenage witch, so I was already excited about this album from its point of announcement.

It was therefore paramount that I caught her set at Glastonbury last weekend. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much, which is strange because she played at 4pm on Sunday and I’m quite sure I’d only had around five ciders by then. Having five ciders on any other Sunday would make one very drunk, but somehow by Glastonbury’s standards, it seems almost crude to admit not remembering a set after five ciders. All I clearly remember from her set is the dress she wore, which made her look like a dead movie star, and the Virgin Mary iconography on display during ‘Sunday Love’, because: Catholic guilt.

I remember crying during ‘Laura’, a well-known, mass-heartstring-pulling single off her last record, The Haunted Man, because the last time I heard her perform that same song was at Latitude Festival in 2013, where she was playing it live for the first time. In attendance was my friend Rosie, and tears were shed as NK sang it – there are few songs quite so pure-sounding as Laura. It really got to me at Glastonbury because I’d had five ciders that day, it was raining, and the song has been a safety blanket over the past few years, which have been turbulent at times, and eventful at best. Anyway, there I was sobbing, wimpering at this song, when this woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was alright.

“Yes!”, I said. “It’s just this music. I am in love with this music. I am crying!”

“Yes”, she replied, looking kinda pissed off. “I know. They’re my favourite band too” – as if to say, “Can you please stop drunkenly mewling in front of me, I like this band better than you”, which I can only contest with, being so moved by this set to the point of howling on my knees in the mud, while my friend bopped along to ELO 400 metres away.  
Anyway, it’s fair to say that the general consensus of reviews for this record is that it is an excellent one, perhaps one of the best of the year, so my fangirl-influenced adjectives aren’t unjustifiably hyperbolic. 

Read my review of it by clicking the word here: Here.

Good morning, happy campers!: A weekend in Pilton at the end of June – 8/7/16

It’s taken me ages to write this, as every time I’m like – I’ve had a coffee, I can do this! – it’s not long before I need to take a nap. I went straight back to work after the Pilton Pop Festival, which is a rookie error, although being technically no longer a rookie and, rather, a four-timer, I should know better. I’ve slept a bit though now. I’ve had a few heart-wrenching nightmares over the last few nights that suggest that I’m settling back into the anxieties of everyday life, but for a week post-Glastonbury, I really was on top of the world. So, please forgive the disjointed nature of this post; it was written in fragments over a week or so. However, I think it’s a slight improvement on the last Glasto-themed blog post I wrote in 2013, although the sentiment is the same.  The first paragraph was written last Wednesday, in a heady head of euphoria, that I haven’t the heart to edit:

I can’t write much about stuff cause I’m so blissfully peaceful. I got back from Glastonbury two days ago. I feel like everything is on its right axis and things are so beautifully in sync together, in harmony, at one. The zen has come from five days of total, dedicated positivity – only enhanced by the tricky weather conditions that you couldn’t complain about, because if you felt inclined, you’d be complaining for around 120 hours, and no-one wants to hang out with that girl who complains about mud for 120 hours.

Every year, of the four years I’ve been lucky enough to go, my favourite day is probably Thursday, when you awake after an exhausting day of trudging way too much stuff through thigh-high mud (or in sunnier years, bake in the heat while carrying six suitcases/bags and one trolley, while wearing a fur coat) and wake up to the view from your tent. There’s something about waking up and already being outside, isn’t there? Like, hey I made it out the house today! Good morning, happy campers!

This year we camped high on a hill with views of (l-r): the Pyramid Stage, the Park, Arcadia and Glastonbury Tor. On the Thursday morning, we fizzed along with our Strongbow at the anticipation of the next four days while sitting on our camping chairs, listening to AC/DC on my friend’s broken tape player at a slightly slower speed to how it should be. F-o-r t-h-o-s-e a-b-o-u-t t-o r-o-c-k, w-e s-a-l-u-t-e y-o-u! Little did we know at the time, this would set the pace for the rest of the weekend.

The mud, if you haven’t heard already, was thigh-affirming, and a personal highlight of mine was seeing the words TAKE YOUR TIME scrolling across the LED displays dotted around the site. I’m a bit notorious within my friendship group for walking at my own pace, that is to say, very, very slowly. I just like to take my time! I have short, Italian legs! Let me walk, when I want and how I want. So, the mud was a blessing in the way it slowed everyone down to my normal pace. Thank you, mud gods.

Since I was last at the farm, it’s been a ‘Heck of a Year’, well, perhaps no more so than usual, but still a heck o’ a one at best. Everything’s been on fast forward, a lot has changed and burnout has felt like a permanent state of being most weeks. However, for the first time in months, time seemed to go blissfully slowly for the most part of the weekend: The Benefits of Opting Out of Taking Speed (In the Daytime).

Upon return from the yearly pilgrimage to Pilton, one gets back to stuff splayed all over the internet about the ‘Glastonbury Blues’, which for Coldplay fans is the actual ‘Glastonbury Blues’, but for everyone else is just ‘a comedown’.

(Just kidding, I love Coldplay fans. I didn’t see their set but only because I saw them the week before at Wembley Stadium, so I can’t really talk. Although it was a free ticket. And I was there ironically, obviously. And I clearly didn’t cry at The Scientist. It’s all a very long story.)

photo (7)

It was a strange weekend in the sense that it was the Brexit-y type of weekend, something no-one really expected, but then it happened, and everyone was kind of like, ‘oh’. I got back to the tent on Friday morning at around 6am and my neighbour was sitting on his chair listening to a little radio.

“Have we?”

“Yeah. Looks like it.”


We smoked a fag together and went to bed separately. It was weird. We then all woke up to the news that David Cameron had resigned. Then Henry and I decided to stop Googling stuff and got some breakfast together. We went to get bacon rolls, but then got hash brown envy of someone ahead of us in the queue so opted for a Full English. We had a nap later that day, separately. Then we got on with it. There’s a great Pitchfork article about the vibe of that day. You can read it here.

My personal musical highlights (for it is, indeed, a music festival) were Rokia Traore and Underworld (Friday); Last Shadow Puppets and Tame Impala (Saturday); Bat for Lashes and LCD Soundsystem (Sunday). I didn’t go to the south-east corner at all this year, which I kind of regret, but I simply forgot to, so I was probably having a good enough time somewhere else. One night I was captured by some Liverpudlians during a Prince/Bowie tribute in a tent and hung around with them until the morning. They called me Penny Lane all night (from the film Almost Famous), due to my fur coat and my movie-star Kate Hudson looks. If you know me, you already know this, but if you don’t know me, know this: Being as huge a Beatles fan as I am, having three Scousers calling me Penny Lane all night is a dream I never even knew was a dream come true.

I spent a good chunk of Saturday night gyrating, alone, to David Bowie songs that were playing out of the speakers at the Wine Bar stall near the Other Stage. Gyrating cause 1) Bowie, 2) A dance move where you can keep your feet firmly in the mud and circle your hips, aggressively, while clutching a plastic bottle full of whiskey.

Later that night, I was sitting in the Silver Hayes area, drinking a curdled organic juice I’d just spent £5 on (ME: Vodka! Now! WORKER: Oh no, we don’t sell alcohol. Just organic juice. ME: Well, what goes good with vodka, HUH?), when I spoke to a man on a bench who was SERIOUSLY pissed off about his campervan. Basically, because of the travesty of the mud this year, many of the campervans had to be moved to a different site in the nearby village of Shepton Mallet, and the only way they could get back to have a decent night’s sleep was via a shuttle bus service that left at 1am, so he couldn’t do any of the nighttime stuff. I guess this was a down side of the Mud Gods’ presence.

Anyway, he started mumbling something about getting some money back – to be fair to the guy, it was Saturday night, it’d been a long few days – but then his eyes lit up as he told me to go to the Green Fields the day after to see the Buddhist monks destroy the sand mandala they’d been creating over the weekend. I’ve been transfixed by the concept of sand mandalas since I heard about them in an RE lesson at school; the idea of spending days making something but resisting attachment to it, accepting that things change and evolve and having the strength to let all of that hard work go.

I didn’t go to see it, I’m not even sure if it actually happened, but the man spoke of it with such enthusiasm: “It’s like this festival!”, he said.

“I like to catch this every year if I can because it mirrors what this festival is for me. Something temporary. A fantastic few days, but packed up the week after. Back to the farm for a year” – and then gestured to the whole of the Silver Hayes area, which looked so far detached from a farm – excluding the mud – but rather a place where people could dance to shit Techno Haus Musik, drink pints of vodka doused in organic juice and moan about shuttle bus services, all in equal measure. It was then that my heart was flushed with joy for everyone and everything, namely the litterpickers and the Eavis’ and my friends, who were somewhere else; this guy and his friends, who were somewhere else, etc.

He was right, and after that, I didn’t feel so bad about it being over the day after next. I went on to have one of the best Sundays ever, actually, which is for a different blog post entirely, but then again, is probably best kept to my journal, as to not unsettle my mother, sensitive internet types and future employers. It was a good day, because it was a day like any other, but better, and shared with beautiful strangers. Here’s to festival feelings all year round. 

All love, glitter, mud and shit,

T.A.L x