I know, I missed July’s blog. There is a reason and I’ll cover that later. However, it’s now August and I’ve just returned from my annual trip to the village of Cropredy just north of Banbury for Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. It’s an awesome music festival weekend, full of cheer, positivity, love and alcohol that, this year, threw some dramatic and challenging weather at us. We are now two gazebos down. I can’t complain though, we had been warned.
I write about this weekend every year. It is a family highlight (though most times with our family are highlights as we are blessed) and sees us all meet in a field with tents, camper vans, caravans and gazebos. We meet up with friends from Cornwall and see familiar faces, famous faces and everything in between. It is a weekend that is invariably fraught with minor disasters (loss of gazebos, a case of the runs, bad feet etc) but is still enjoyable enough to allow everyone’s batteries to be recharged and, most importantly, for our collective faith in humanity to be restored. It is the friendliest place I have ever been. There are smiles and hellos and waves from everyone, both known and unknown.
The weather is obviously a major contributor to the level of enjoyment at any one time (we do live in England) but we overcome, usually. Last year was a washout, but I wouldn’t have missed it; this year was very wet and windy in the mornings and through the night but we sat in sunshine every day.
There were a number of special highlights this year, one of which was the indescribable Gogol Bordello, a fabulous band that, despite being from Lower East Side Manhattan, play mostly gypsy, Eastern European-influenced, punk-dub-rock. I know, not easy to imagine. You’ll just have to have a listen to them. They are possibly one of the most exciting bands to watch with the emphasis on energy and performance. It was a pleasure to stand at the front of the crowd, most of us ‘wearing purple’ and dance on my dodgy, pulsating toe to these amazing people (despite the one tit in a pink shirt who couldn’t hold his beer – he is a rarity at this festival).
Another highlight was having my photo taken with Zal Cleminson (ex Sensational Alex Harvey Band guitarist – the one of mime makeup and green and yellow leotard fame). I first saw Zal in a very wet field above Buxton in 1974. He remembered the festival! I was sixteen and he was a little older. Just after the photo was taken I went to stand at the bar with a pint of cider, my son, and his friend, Tim, from the Rugby club. I was drifting along in my own special world when a familiar, rather wrinkly-faced, straggly grey-haired gentleman approached me from the direction of the stage. I looked at him, realised who was standing in front of me but couldn’t quite compute the reality of it in my tiny brain. ‘Robert?’ I eventually said. I was rewarded with a wry smile and a half wink before he ordered his beer. That’s what I mean about the place being friendly. It’s the type of festival where you can casually say hello to Robert Plant and it be the most normal thing in the world.
So, all this is anticipated (apart from the somewhat surreal meeting with a particular hero of mine) for weeks in advance. The build up to this weekend is filled with expectation and hope and the knowledge that, for a few days at least, all will be well with the world. There will be good music, good company, good drinks, canals and bridges and colourful, hopeful, positive and happy people. There will be wind in our hair and sun on our faces, peace flags, glow sticks, bubbles and maybe even a bit of dancing. In fact, definitely a bit of dancing (somewhat curtailed by my grumbling, gouty toe!). Babies and dogs and tankards and the smell of curry, noodles, doughnuts and coffee. It’s my favourite place and all culminates in an incredibly moving moment when the thousands of people all stop what they are doing, just before midnight on the Saturday night, hold hands, hug, arms across shoulders, and sing Meet on the Ledge and cry for all those we have loved and lost.
All this to look forward to during that previous month. The future is sunny and bright and optimistic.
And then what happened in July?
The reason for no July Blog?
I’ve been consciously trying to avoid this but…
We now have a serial liar with a well-documented history of misogyny and racism in charge of the country, backed up by the most right-wing bunch of ne’er-do-wells and sycophants as an excuse for a cabinet that could even be imagined. Perhaps it’s just a joke. One that none of us understands, maybe, but a joke nonetheless. Trump in America and Johnson in Britain. How the hell did that happen? If nothing else, it puts to bed the notion that the office of president and prime minister now have any standing or respect on the world’s stage. There was a time when we thought of people who filled these posts as having some degree of integrity, even if we didn’t like them. I hated Thatcher with a passion but she could never be accused of being an idiot. I thought that Reagan was a dangerous and deluded man, but he abhorred nuclear weapons and their elimination was at the core of his philosophy. Just a shame he was preoccupied with the idea of ‘reds under the bed’.
We now also have a leader of the House of Commons who has published a list of banned words! It might be just me but I find this the most worrying. Maybe we should dig up George Orwell and ask him what he thought he was playing at by describing the world we now live in so accurately. Is it, perhaps, his fault? Did he tempt fate?
We seem to be suffering a steady decline in the quality of leaders. I know that there are plenty of people out there, even politicians, whom we could trust to do what is best but why do the ones in charge have to be drawn from a selection of clowns and imbeciles? Has the gene pool simply evaporated or is there some underlying factor that allows clots to rise to the surface rather than the cream?
Each day brings new and depressing stories of ever-increasing meanness from our so-called leaders: stopping European workers from returning from their holidays after the end of October; extending the state pension age to seventy five; installing a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Who in god’s name votes for these people? They’re not just incompetent, they’re actively nasty. And, for some inexplicable reason, the media fails to take them to task.
That’s all in italics because I don’t really want it to be part of my blog. It would have been all of July’s and that would have been utterly depressing and now I’ve partially soiled my August blog with it.
So here’s to better times. Maybe it’s just a glitch. Maybe it’s an error that someone will grow wise to and put right over the next year or two. A bit of dodgy coding in the intergalactic algorithm that is running the whole bloody shit-show. Who knows? I have, on occasion, been known to say, ‘Never mind, things can only get better from this point.’ I’m not totally sure about that anymore but I have just enjoyed a weekend with twenty thousand people who all did make a better job of living and loving and drinking and singing together than most of our country seem to be capable of doing. There is always hope. Maybe I’ll have cause to smile even wider if I see Robert at the bar again next year.
Let’s hope so.
Beautiful, summer Cirrostratus clouds.
Gaze on them longingly and visit my Website.