Sneakily whispering into a Dictaphone, as I could not be bothered to write anything down, I recorded notable moments of the festivals to compile a little diary upon getting home, when I’m sure there are far more important things to get on with. For example a 20,000 word dissertation. Pfff…
It is the 12th of June, and as far as I am concerned, I am about to be shut off from the outside world, for a week-long birthday, as it falls on the festival’s final night. However, the whole proceedings inevitably aren’t going to unfold very smoothly.
Download begins for me on Thursday, though would normally have done on a Wednesday, but strenuous old Masters degree presentations got in the way. It didn’t begin particularly smoothly either, as the coach driver managed to get LOST in Reading, confused as to why he couldn’t find the people he was meant to pick up at this stop. After making such as massive excursion to Reading… there was no one to pick up. Basingstoke brought up two obnoxious Steel Panther fans who wouldn’t stop shouting for two hours, irritated that the coach wasn’t excited and buzzing, but like my myself, trying to sleep.
“Come on guys! We’re not going to a fucking funeral! DOWNLOAD! DOWNLOAD!”
Funnily enough, considering how tired I felt having been up since stupid o’ clock, I was dead enough that I may as have been driven there in a hearse. Besides, it would have been far comfier. I could have lied down. Knee room didn’t suit a six-foot-tall Nick Pollard very well.
This year, at the suggestion of fellow campers, we were in family camping, which was bizarre considering we aren’t family, in an official sense. I resist suggesting some figurative hippie simile about how as friends in a music community, we are a metal family. Many others can do that for me.
Family camping is a portion of the site which offers a limited number of tickets, making it quieter and more spacious, with a curfew for loud music being played. Sound boring? Well, it actually wasn’t. In fact, we were satisfied enough that I wouldn’t be upset were that chosen again next year. It was also the closest are to the entrance gates, making it easy to haul my luggage there. If there was any con, it was a marathon walk between the campsite and the arena.
It was a nightmare trying to find friends who had settled there yesterday, as everybody had switched off their phones to save the batteries. You see, they weren’t as happy as I was to be in my own Download Festival bubble and have fun, and felt the need for constant communication on smartphones that would lose power in less than a day. My two-week lasting, crater inducing £10 Nokia was ideal. I finally managed to catch a friend who had their phone on briefly to check something, and things worked out.
And so came the family camping quiz night. Entry came at the price of one can of an alcoholic beverage. There were twenty teams. The winner would win a binbag full of the contributed booze. Our team was brilliantly, cringe-worthingly titled ‘Trivia-um’. Questions came about ‘TV doctors’, metal tracks and general knowledge. The TV round presented screenshots of ten shows, of which we needed to guess the names. I managed to contribute a couple of answers that nobody else in the group knew, rather shamefully being the dreadful game show built on testicle puns, Goldenballs, and the sickeningly colourful Balamory. I could recognize the faces of Edie McCredie and PC Plum anywhere.
Oh, and we won.
One member of the group went on to say that this was the greatest weekend of his life. As much as I was told to shut up, there was no denying that without my Goldenballs and Balamory answers, that we wouldn’t have won. We won by half a point. I also learned that WKD was available in a can. Don’t know who had it though. Not me. I’m a Kopparberg guy.
We popped by the comedy tent to see a performance by Andrew O’Neill, who was very funny and as a metalhead himself, engaged everybody. Towards the end of the performance there was a headbanging competition between three attendees. Notably, even though his attempt was admirable, an obnoxious sounding guy by the name of ‘Biscuit’ was not received very well. There was also a loud tribute to the late, great Rik Mayall.
A couple of drinks later, and we were wandering around the village and the fun fair. I made the marvelous choice to go on this fairground ride.
The queue took a while after there was a technical fault, and the ride wouldn’t stop swinging, and the riders couldn’t get off. Despite the ride weighing many tons, the stewards were forced to stop it with their hands. And then, while riders were happy that they were about to get off… the ride started again. Despite the problems, the ride continued to run, and it was awesome. £5 well spent.
Shattered already, it was time for bed. Night night.