From the vaults: 7 Days, Day Three - Festivals

I've had a blog for a very long time. Over 20 years. Recently I've been thinking how it'd be nice to bring back some of the better old posts, once a week. I'm starting with a series that I did back in 2009, before Blood on the Motorway was but a twinkle in my eye. I'd asked for seven one blog topics from people on Twitter and got some of my best blog material as a result. Here's the third, a suggestion from @gregeden, who's remained one of my dearest internet friends ever since. Originally posted on August 27th, 2009, I've gone ahead and changed some of the names on this story.

Festivals

I consider myself to be quite the connoisseur of festivals, having been to about 20 of them over the years, and like anyone who has been to festivals have quite a few good stories. My favourite festival story is not mine though, and so I bring you the story of my good friend Jed at Reading 1999.

Jed had always had a bit of a reputation for needlessly getting himself into trouble. This is a man who did a bungee jump one week after a hernia operation. The same man who scaled a lighting pole at one Leeds Festival only to lose his grip and plummet into a bin. Jed is the guy you take with you to a festival who gets so wasted on the first night that he doesn’t go and see any bands until the last day.

At the Reading festival in 1999, he outdid himself. Jed started off the first night asking around if anyone had any acid, which none of us did. He’d never been a prolific drug taker, none of us were, so it took us a bit by surprise.  He didn’t manage to score any that night, nor the night after, although he remained adamant that he wanted to take some.  He still got drunk out of his skull as per usual and by the last day of the festival, none of us had heard from him for a while.

It turned out that on the last day he had decided that in order to procure said hallucinogens he needed to look further afield than our little field.  Off he trundled, asking everyone he could find if they had any. It’s a wonder he didn’t get arrested.

What happened next was that he bumped into someone who recommended he go and check out the Herbal High tent.  He wasn’t sure if that would do the full job he had in mind, so he carried on his fruitless search for a little while longer.  Eventually, he gave up and was about to head back to our tents when he came upon the aforementioned Herbal High tent.  He inquired as to their effectiveness and was assured that they were every bit as strong as the real thing and that since it was his first time he should under no circumstances take more than two tabs.

Instead of taking this advice, however, Jed decided to digest the whole sheet systematically, not realising that the ‘kick’ would not come for a while.  It was around the time he finished that it finally arrived, and he spewed forth a torrent of festival food, beer, and paper.  Disorientated and tripping, he made his way back to the tent while we were all still in the arena and collapsed into the relative safety of his plastic abode.

An undetermined time later, the tent door was unzipped and Jed looked in horror as a bald man and a woman climbed in and commenced fervent lovemaking, right next to him. This went on for quite some time until the bald man looked over and saw Jed.

‘Oh sorry mate, I didn’t see you there,’ he said nonchalantly, before adding ‘are you all right mate, you don’t look very well.’

‘Well actually, I just took a whole sheet of acid.’

‘Really? Are you seeing anything weird?’

‘Well there’s two strangers fucking, right in front of me.’

Undeterred, the man and woman continued to go at it, completely ignoring him. At this point, he simply blacked out, presumably his mind shutting down for the sake of self-preservation.

Now all of this comes from the account of a man tripping heavily, so I can’t be sure what is real and what isn’t. But the one thing I do know is that the next morning, concerned for where he had disappeared to, we opened the tent to see him laying in the tent looking utterly bewildered, with not one but two naked women laying alongside him asleep, with no bald man in sight.

And who says drugs can’t do good things?

Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores.

From the vaults: 7 Days, Day One - Cheese

I've had a blog for a very long time. Over 20 years. Recently I've been thinking how it'd be nice to bring back some of the better old posts, once a week. I'm going to start with a series that I did back in 2009, before Blood on the Motorway was but a twinkle in my eye. I'd asked for seven one blog topics from people on Twitter and got some of my best blog material as a result. So, here's the first, a suggestion from someone called @punk_beatz, but their account doesn't exist any more. The passage of time, eh? his post was first published August 25th, 2009.

Cheese

Back in my university days, when I lived in Sunderland, my friends and I found ourselves frequenting on particular takeaway with remarkable frequency.  Back then there was only one alternative club night worth mentioning in Sunderland, and that was on Tuesdays at the terribly named Pzazz nightclub.

Opposite said establishment was an eatery whose name escapes me now, but we used to go with such frequency that when we entered the staff behind the counter used to greet us by name and immediately start our orders without questioning. Every Tuesday night, a large garlic bread with cheese.  And I wondered why I could never pull at the end of the night.

One night, however, my choice of late-night haute-cuisine actually saved my life, or at the very least saved me a beating.  Of my friends, one was a mild-mannered chap by the name of Ben, the other a slightly more fiery Scot by the name of Ian.  One thing I should mention about Sunderland is that it's pretty rough in the city centre, especially on the weekends. For these reasons, most of the non-dance nights used to take place on a weekday evening so as to avoid throwing the 200 or so alternative kids in the city onto the same streets as the ‘townies’ at two in the morning.

On this occasion, however, we stumbled out of Pzazz all full of vodka jelly and beer and mirth and into said eatery, only to be confronted by the sight of disconsolate looking staff, who all looked towards the far corner of the room as we walked in.

Naturally our eyes followed theirs and in the corner we saw five gigantic skinheads in Fred Perry tops staring back at us. Naturally, we turned our attention straight away from them and back to the counter. We ordered, careful not to turn our attention back behind us.

Once we ordered we started talking to the staff as usual, but quickly the man behind the counter retreated into the kitchen, and we heard a voice behind us.  ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ Turning, we saw one of the larger of the herd staring at us, malice in his eyes.

‘Um, ordering?’ I said, trying as hard as possible to show with my face a level of cowardice that would render any ensuing fight to be pointless.  Instead of retorting, he simply shook his head and walked back to his table.  We waited for a few minutes in silence before being handed our food and tried to leave unnoticed.

Back on the street, we wondered aloud what the hell that had been about, and then, foolishly, Ian looked back into the shop and made the sort of gesture that could only end badly for us.  Without a word the skinheads got up from their table and ran out to follow us.  We pegged it.

We were chased down the street, all the while scrambling to hold on to our food. We rounded a corner onto the high street and I lost control of the big box in my hand, spilling my delicious looking supper all over the street. Cursing, I turned and continued to run.

We stopped a little further along to see if we were still being pursued, just in time to see one of the skinheads round the corner and put one of his boots onto a large slice of garlic bread with cheese. He immediately lost his footing and slid backwards, falling backwards into a shop window, which luckily held, He slumped to the floor with a force that suggested he wouldn’t be immediately getting back up.

As his friends rounded the corner, they came across their leader lying stricken on the floor and stopped. Without waiting to see any more, we ran on into the night, now completely sober and with me suddenly very hungry.  And that is how one night a garlic bread with cheese saved my life.

Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores.