How do you know you’re getting old? When you break into a sprint, without supplying three weeks’ prior notice to your body? Is it the sight of the first few grey hairs in the mirror that look so ludicrous, you think “Aw COME ON, special effects in this movie are cat!“?
Or is it at a sleepless 6.30am in a tent at a music festival when everyone else is ‘up’ in more ways than one, while you fantasise about being winched to safety by a helicopter belonging to a luxury hotel?
A music festival is a singular occasion – a combination of a Scout trip, Debs and Battle of The Somme. They are eagerly anticipated in the preceding days at work. Microsoft Outlook messages that normally have subjects like “Urgent Reminder: Have you read the company’s email policies?” are used to exchange excited information about “Festival Banter” and “Can’t wait for the Carnage!!!” Facebook pages will be updated with videos of men accidentally mud-sliding into pools of [redacted] along with the comment “Dis’ll be u on Sunday, Steo LOLs”
So it’s no surprise that one morning at Indiependence, while I was having murderous proto-middle age thoughts about some noisy neighbours, everyone else in the campsite was still ‘Fierce Excited Altogether’. A music festival campsite at night is also singular because it is effectively an urban community where there has been no time for civil society to form. There is no hierarchy, no rule of law, no soundproofing. Everything is heard. Yet because it is dark, there is anonymity. If someone wants to repeatedly shout “MARCO!” in the hope that some other tool will reply with “POLO”, it is possible. There is even a grudging acceptance that shouting into the ether is exciting, liberating and very tempting. Like a Social Network, only real.
Even though it kept me awake, I liked the slight anarchy of these voices in the wild. When, after a period of silence, one young man couldn’t take the stillness anymore and roared at the top of his voice “YIZ ARE ALL A BUNCH OF DRY SHITES”, I felt empathy. I could see that he had looked into the abyss of time, seen his own mortality and needed to reach out.
It was none of this shouting that provoked the fantasies about flame-throwers and tent-based vigilanteism. It was worse – the singsong. A music festival campsite sing-song is a singularity – i.e. it is infinitely annoying. The worst sing-songsters at this hour are those who can sing ‘a little bit.’ Were they to get anywhere near Simon Cowell, he would crush them like pistachios and decry them as “bad-karaoke singers at best”. But with no one to disabuse them of their delusion, they are unstoppable.
Therefore it was early Sunday morning at an otherwise excellent Indiependence (The GUARDS WERE DANCING ON STAGE for goodness sake!) – when one poseur started up with Rihanna’s “WeFound LLLeove In A Heopeless Play-eece” that I realised: I’m too old for this.