August 2020

This should be Fairport’s Cropredy Convention month; the time of year when we, as a family, spend three days and nights in a field in Oxford, drinking heavily and listening to great music. Thanks to the virus, there are no festivals at all this year. It’s as depressing as hell.

However, all is not lost. Our entire family met up in the garden with camping chairs, curries, chips, music, gazebo and Old Rosie. There was wine and gin and beer and sangria; we had the tankards out and our 2020 Full House and Postponed tee-shirts on and even a couple of 2020 Access All Areas wrist-bands (a rather excessive treat). The weather stayed warm and dry and, as the sun dipped away, the garden lights started to flicker and it felt as though we could have been sitting in that field in Oxford.

Except it was Sheffield.

The point is, disappointment can always be avoided. Good company makes up for most things. Two year old boys whizzing round the garden, throwing themselves off steps and finding sharp things that shouldn’t be there. Laughter coming from three directions, mostly dark or smutty. Dancing to The Toy Dolls singing Nellie the Elephant. DSC02965Picking thigh-sized courgettes from the vegetable patch (because it’s mid August and that’s what happens). Making tight swerves whilst holding beverages to maintain social distancing. Wondering where the two year olds have actually gone and finding them sitting inside watching TV. Far more sensible than their slightly over-relaxed carers. It’s hard to encapsulate an afternoon and evening of nonsense and total relaxation without being overly clichéd but it’s what we all crave and that’s why it’s a cliché.

So, yeah, we’re missing a few things but we all have each other. And Cropredy, after all, is all about having each other and meeting up with all our other others. Twenty thousand of them. All good guys. Not a racist bigot among them.DSC02987 Our people. That’s why it’s so special. It preceded FaceAche where you wallow in your own social echo chamber and experience only views that agree with your own and don’t challenge your version of the world and that’s pretty much what the field is: a place of like-minded people, shrugging off the depressing bollocks that pretends to be the real world and living, for a few days, in our own particular utopia. Who cares if it’s self-delusional? It’s bloody great. And I do, really, wish the world was like that.

But it isn’t, is it? It’s a complete mess of everybody’s wishes and dreams all mashed together by powers that be to try and keep most of us happy most of the time. Or at least it used to be. It doesn’t seem that long ago that unpopular decisions would be made but quickly followed by either rhetoric or options that would pacify those opposed to the decision. Recent decisions on green energy and punishing the polluters was made in conjunction with the ability to ‘buy’ carbon allowance. Most of us knew that this was simply a cynical way of monetising pollution but the argument could be made, and was, that it was a way of reducing pollution overall. GogolThe taxation on sugar and alcohol was branded as a push towards better health but most of us knew and the sugar and alcohol industry knew that it would have zero effect on sales and simply make more money for government. They’re only tiny incentives to swallow a bitter pill but at least they could be bothered to try. Now though, that has gone. We live in a binary world. Black and white (literally!) Right and wrong. Left and right. There is no attempt at all to appease opponents (though, arguably, Chamberlain poisoned that particular apple). Now, you are either with us or against us. Our country has been cleaved in half in far more ways than Brexit. The extreme right are now seen as forging towards a brave new world whereas those on the left, are seen as the enemy of the people. Beware though, those of us who regularly frequent that field have a wild side as well.

This month isn’t about right and wrong or political arguments or my dad’s bigger than your dad. This is about calm and positive energy. We all need it, especially those angry trolls on social network sites. There will be a cost to all that rage in later life. Being furious all the time will take it’s toll, not the least with high blood pressure and all the problems that accompany that.

Which is why it’s so sad that we are missing our festivals this year. It’s a better medicine than you can get from any chemist or GP. There are tens of thousands of people missing out on events that reset their mental health. I’ve heard so many people say things like, ‘I look forward to this every year. It’s the only place I feel like myself.’ Or, ‘I don’t know what I’d do without this place. It heals all wounds of the past twelve months.’ Maybe a bit over the top, but I know exactly what they mean. Our whole family come together and share a few days of sunshine (or torrential rain) and good music and friendly people and laughs and all the problems that we carry with us from day to day dissolve as though they never existed. DSC03012The fact that we are miles from anywhere (well, only four or five miles from Banbury but it feels like the middle of nowhere) and surrounded by trees and rivers and all things natural, creates a feeling of oneness with the universe. We see the sky in the morning and the sky in the evening. We watch as the weather changes throughout the day while listening to music, dancing and eating fabulous food. And despite my earlier reference to alcohol abuse, not everyone does that. For many, the experience itself is intoxicating enough. Wind on your face, or rain, the lack of rules or regulations, apart from the obvious of being polite to everyone and not being a dick. I think in twenty odd years of attending this festival, I’ve only come across three dicks: one was out of his head on exotic substances and didn’t realise that he was invading people’s personal space, another simply didn’t understand that, at later times in the evening, the crowd tend to stand and dance (the matter was resolved by an announcement from the stage and subsequent writing on the festival website), and the third was a over-confident drunken twat. So in twenty five years say, with an average of perhaps eighteen thousand people, that’s three dicks in nearly half a million people. And only one of them didn’t have a valid excuse. If only that was the ratio in the rest of the world.

So, peace and love and light and happiness and hugs and cheers to everyone out there. Lets hope that this world becomes a better place than it is at the moment and, with a bit of luck, we might even achieve some degree of that utopia in our everyday lives. It would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Why not check out my website? There are a few new pieces of scriptwriting on there now (new to the website at least) and comments and criticisms are always welcome.

See you all in September!