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Facing a festival-less Summer.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

‘2020 is going to be my year!’ I boldly claimed at Christmas, whilst filling in my pristine 2020 diary with all my festival dates for the summer. Meadows In The Mountains, Glastonbury, Noisily, Wilderness, Green Man and Lost Village. The same six as last year and my dream line-up. It’s taken 7 years on the festival circuit and a tidal wave of blood sweat, tears to finely tune this three month intensive tour down to these six, the ones which I love most. I thought I had it in the bag.

I guess we all thought we had various different things in our ‘bags’. Little did we know that 2020 had very different plans for us all.

Summer is normally a blur. My feet don’t usually touch the ground from May until September. We are generally at each festival for a full week, sometimes going to the next one back to back depending on the schedule. Packing everything you need for a festival as a punter is hard enough, when you are also thinking about a whole shop, the stock within it and how you’re going to feed and booze 5 people for 6 days and prepare for any kind of weather eventuality is really too much for one little lady’s brain (which is prone to being chaotic at the best of times). I often have nightmares in the weeks leading up to the first festival, usually about forgetting all the hangers and having to lay everything out on the ground. So by the time we actually arrive in a field, I am already exhausted.

The festival itself is a journey, theres the calm, orderly two days of setup to begin with, the back-of house makeshift kitchen is clean and tidy and we are all getting our five-a-day fruit and veg and taking it in turns to cook. There is an air of expectancy and excitement as the festival is built around us and starts to take shape. We are in bed by midnight and brew coffee on the stovetop for everyone in the mornings. Then the public arrive and we are on our feet serving customers for 12 hours a day, its perfectly acceptable to begin the day with a baileys coffee or a mimosa and we keep ourselves topped up from here on in. We roll down the doors of the marquee about 10 or 11pm (usually when the punters start to talk rubbish and the guys start trying to squeeze into size 8 dresses) and do our best to ‘lock’ it with cable ties and tent pegs, then we re-emerge in head to toe sequins and colours, glittery eyed and swathed in big fur coats and off we go into the night. As long as i’m in bed by 5am and brush my teeth, I can hold it together, these are my only rules. Sundays are often my favourite day, dreamy blurs of red wine, Haribo for dinner, sunshine and contentment. Then Mondays are pack down and it’s always HELL. We are all running on empty, no one has washed anything up for the past three days and i’m putting bin bags of congealed bean-pans into the front of the van, wondering why there isn’t any more room in there after three days of selling clothes. Then I go home for a few days and repeat this all again. Times five.

The slow cancellations of all the festivals this year have been a slow, painful process which we are all coming to terms with. We were holding out hope for ones later in the season, like Shambala and Lost Village, but they have gone now too. Exhausting as it is, these three months contain enough laughter, silliness and life-affirming human connections to see me through the whole year. Being in a field brings out the best of people, they are free of all their usual day-to-day responsibilities and expectations and watching them express themselves so unashamedly always brings me such pleasure, especially when they find something in my shop which helps them to do that. I also cram in 90% of my live music consumption for the year into these weeks as well, always preferring to rave in the open air rather than a sweaty nightclub in London. But a part of me, probably my liver, is breathing a sigh of relief. I don’t really know what it’s like being in London for summer. I also don’t really get to enjoy the houseboat I live on at it’s best time because i’m always in a field. I always miss my Dad’s birthday because its Glastonbury and I always drift a little from my non-festival friends. Festivals are wonderful but they are throughly exhausting and for once my sleep has stabilised at 7 hours a night, instead of bouncing between an erratic 3 or 12, and it might be nice to keep it that way for a bit.

Instead I plan to run, read, tidy my wardrobe, learn embroidery, visit my family, sit in the park with friends, camp for the sake of camping only and paint my boat. Cook from scratch and slow the f*** down and not look one single Portaloo in the eye. And write this blog! Of memoirs and musings and hopefully some useful information for you too.

Thanks for being here.

Jessie x