It’s over for another year. A town twice the size of Carrigaline full of the famous, the obscure, the weird and the wonderful was created on a Thursday and torn down on a Monday. The Electric Picnic has been packed into the basket. Without so much as a mudstain in sight.
We didn’t dare believe when we heard it. We had been hurt so many times before. Forecast after forecast was saying that the weather would be nice for the weekend but surely it would prove too good to be true? Even as Electric Picnic approached, the forecasts began to be watered down. (or watered up to be precise), the sun symbols disintegrated before our eyes like a coalition election promise.
Yet somehow it stayed dry and even became sunny. There were a couple of things in our favour: By the sheer law of averages the rain had to stop some time. So much moisture had been scraped from the surface of the Atlantic, the sea level had dropped. Secondly, the school holidays were over and the formidable weight of Murphy’s Law was brought to bear.
For the first time in ages, roughing it at the Picnic was going to be smoother than usual. Not that we intended roughing it. We were staying unashamedly in a B-and-B. Camping is great but having been diagnosed with an intermittent allergy to Other People, we thought it best not to go against professional advice.
If the Picnic was a town, it would probably be somewhere in Holland: Relaxed, mature, a strong waft of ‘doob’ and with a very understanding police force. Whereas at previous Picnics, the gallowglass security firms from the UK did not have the correct approach to deal with our particular brand of eejitry and sometimes overreacted, this year they employed a very successful gently-gently method of persuading you that you were wrong.
The other disincentive to blackguarding is the demographic in this ‘town’, specifically the amount of families. It’s harder to misbehave when a flaxen haired child straight from a Benecol ad scuttles across your path. If you look closely you’ll see the after effects of the L Casei Munitas protective aura. I don’t hold with the notion that children shouldn’t be brought to festivals. For a start it’s a great place to teach them about drink. We are all familiar with the DrinkAware mantras – Know the one that’s one too many, Pace yourself, Don’t see a good night wasted, Wait till the end of the round to get yours and you might get away without only buying one etc. At this stage they are almost like a Safe Cross Code for drinking. (1. Look for a safe place probably applies to both). But ultimately they have no effect on children. They’re too abstract.
A festival is like a Drink Aware ad acted out in real life.
On more than one occasion I saw floppy haired kids watch open-mouthed as some undead creature from the night before stumbled past them, shirtless, eyes half open, mouth fully open (sometimes with genitals drawn on their face in marker by a japing friend). A savvy parent would only need to whisper in the child’s ear “See? that’s what happens now…” in order to cement the lasting impression that drinking too much is bad for you.
Despite all the warnings, I actually did not see that much complete ‘ossification’. By warnings of course I mean the unnoffical ones. The warnings that circulated among the chattering classes that the Electric Picnic would somehow be invaded by a Golden Horde of armed Oxegen veterans, fists swinging, pills falling out of their ears, ready to plough the beautiful sward of Stradbally with their boundless energy and unfocused rage as if they were landless former guerillas being whipped into a frenzy by Robert Mugabe. They didn’t materialise. Probably because the youth of today is NOT THAT BAD ACTUALLY.
The antipathy of the 30 and 40-something to the 18-on-something is far stronger than just disgust at ‘scumbaggery’. How soon we forget. There is a jealousy at play here. Jealousy of a group for the sh*t they don’t give from another group who, each day are presented with something new in the newspapers to worry about (property tax is the latest) “I mean I was no angel but I never got THAT out of it, you know.” You did.
I feel sorry for the 17-23 age group. Every fast-driving, Swedish House Mafia wrestling, stabbing, dealing incident is immediately put down to the age rather than the character. You never hear of someone saying – “Pff – typical fifty-somethings, always borrowing billions and not paying it back”
Having said that, even at the Electric Picnic, there are times when a firm hand is needed with the Youth Of Today. “Come down off that mushroom. I’m not going to tell you again” roared a burly security guard as he spied a girl trying to climb a giant toadstool. She alighted glumly – no doubt, not the only person on site that weekend to come down off a mushroom, though one of the few to be ordered to do so.
There was a lot besides giant mushrooms to do in Electric Town. Among the ferris wheel, circus, cinema, theatre, turf-walled sibins, whittling areas and inflatable church there was actually a music festival going on.
It was at one such gig, that life in this transient village was summed up quite neatly. As The Cure barreled through their three hour set, two parents sort-of danced and sang along to the three songs they knew. Nearby, their two small boys wrestled almost non-stop on the dry ground.
About ten feet away, men of all ages, peed against a fence.
Town was mad busy this weekend.