It’s that time of year again: Cropredy!
That means that I’ve been writing this blog for a year now. Time flies when you’re not paying attention. This year was the fiftieth anniversary of Fairport Convention. I guess they’re feeling old, too.
As ever, it was a fabulous affair. It’s a three day festival (Thursday – Saturday) but this year there was an option to turn up on the Wednesday. This was great as, usually, we plan to sit around and chat and drink after each day but, after twelve hours of drinking, no-one is fit to stay up any longer.
We were greeted in field 8 by a series of fairyrings. One member of our group got very excited and started going on about fairies dancing in circles and was less than pleased when I mentioned mycelium spreading out in ever increasing circles. I wasn’t trying to spoil the magic, just telling them how it worked. Needless to say, the rings were soon well and truly trampled.
We often get a ‘bit of weather’ at Cropredy but this year we were pretty lucky: an hour and a half of light rain on Friday and that was it. Beautiful fluffy clouds all weekend and, when the sun did break through, it was hot. I put it down to my footwear. Each year I turn up in sandals and I think that maybe that hacks off the weather gods. They burst the clouds in order to teach me a lesson. This year I went for something a little more sensible and I think it had the same effect as taking an umbrella out with you: it always proves to be unnecessary.
If the colours in the picture offend then I can only apologise: I am required to wear bright colours in the (unlikely) event that I wander off and can’t remember who I am. My apparel makes me easily identifiable.
One of the highlights of the weekend is always the people that you see and meet there. From the famous (Robert Plant and Ed Milliband were seen in the field this year) to the vaguely familiar. Here’s a chap we see most years: I’m not sure whether or not the banana phone actually works or not but he talks an awful lot on it. It is, in fact, a smart banana phone because I saw him use it as a camera later in the day. He took a photo of a group of people, scrolled through the images and asked them to pick their favourite. He is seen a lot up at the top of the field where they have children’s entertainment. I’m assured that he’s perfectly safe. I also bumped into Maartin Alcock at the bar: former bass player of Jethro Tull and Fairport. I just said hello as I was fabulously drunk and didn’t want to dismay the man too much.
Later in the day we saw the moon. I was assured that it was the very same one that we see in Sheffield. I have to admit, it looks very similar. I like the moon and take many, many pictures of it. Some members of my family consider my habit to be bordering on an obsession. Obsessed by the moon? That would be lunacy! No, I like it because no matter where you are in the world, it’s like having an old friend with you. Of course, I always have my wife with me wherever I am in the world otherwise I would have never got there in the first place so that sort of makes the argument redundant.
The walk back to the tent or camper van is always exciting; more so because we have to negotiate a small humpty back bridge, a stream and a canal. Not a simple matter when you have just drunk forty two pints of cider. Again this year was particularly magical as a full-on fairy grotto had been installed near the canal. I didn’t drop my camera into it but I have no idea how I managed not to. The peaceful, colourful, calm colours and reflections are somewhat in contrast to the reality as there is usually somewhere in the region of ten thousand people who have been drinking constantly for twelve hours all trying to pass this way, each with at least one bag, fold-up chair, various children and a can in one hand.
Apropos of nothing:
So, now it’s nearly half eleven. We’ve had curry, watched comedy and a documentary about Shane McGowan’s teeth (I cried, make of that what you will) and now Mary’s gone to bed while I tidy up – and drink the last can of cider that I really didn’t need. I know how it goes. And yet, as I went to pick up my can I thought, ‘Oh, Mary’s put it at the side of the hob for me. Excellent!’ And then, having picked it up and slugged hard, noticed that there was another can on the table at the side of where I sat to eat curry and watch TV. Yes, not only have I had more than I need, I’ve had two more than I need. I don’t use this journal as a confessional – although I do – but I think it wise to record this minor incident. If nothing else, if I go because my liver’s fucked then at least someone can look back on this and say, ‘Well, in all honesty, it wasn’t just his liver. His liver may well have survived if he hadn’t lost his mind first.’