Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Re-acclimatisation Meal

Back home and it's weird. Quiet.

Time for the ritual 'come-down' curry with the Dog Collars and Rabbit Corpses family.

For the first time ever in my experience, the Punjab meal is less than perfect. My Dosa was super fine, but K didn't fare so well.

That notwithstanding it was just lovely to spend the evening with these wonderful friends.

And it was quite amusing as S mentioned for the 20th time that he was missing everybody.

I know what he means.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Farewell meals

The alarm went off, but I'd only had a few hours sleep. Deciding that being ok to drive home was more important that making breakfast with the crew, I rolled over and fell back asleep.

It seemed to take forever to pack up, but once again the lovely K, my adopted niece helped me get my kit down to the car.

Evil twin and I escaped for a very late breakfast at the bakers in Bishop's Cleeve, which left me feeling almost human. We bought a huge tray of cakes bake for all those still working (I'd reached my limit I'm afraid).

Having decided that I may as well skip the rush hour, I figured I might as well join the rest of the remaining team for a meal out, before I headed back to Manchester.

Over a riotous Italian the usual games were played. Sally headed for the loo and wisely took her possessions with her. So we stole her chair instead. Not easy given she was sat in the middle of the U-shaped table arrangement.

The waiter returned as we were mid-lift, but far from disapproving, he simply viewed the situation and asked "would you like me to get the high chair instead?".

I love it when people play along.

Last Night

The end of the festival and a lovely after hours party for volunteers (after a 6.30am finish the night before I really did mean to go to bed at a decent hour, honestly...I mean 4am isn't that bad really is it?).

This photo sums things up - lovely people - a big warm happy family.

The caption could read "I really , really love you".

Or maybe "...I'm not just saying that because I'm drunk."

One of the parties pictured above is a tee-totaller.

No, really.

Monday, August 28, 2006

On mainstage and off

King Creosote, were excellent as were My Morning Jacket, although with the latter I'm afraid you'll never win over an audience largely unfamiliar with your work if you don't engage with the audience. Or as S put it, "not talking to us is one thing, but playing with your back to us...". Personally I loved it, the music washed over my tired soul - truly beautiful.

Opinion on Nizlopi seems devided. Although can we all be clear that they didn't play the JCB song at all did they. Cos bands like that always save their one hit for last right? Hence they certainly didn't play it the second we sent Nick off to get chips, did they...

Surprise extreme delight of the weekend was a sunny Sunday afternoon with a large crowd watching the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Classic covers, that just made everyone smile.

I knew Michael Franti and Spearhead were going to be good, but wow! Simply stunning - perfect festival band and totally explored the festival and 'got it'. Lovely, lovely man also visited the Escape to Safety exhibition and talked about asylum and hugged some of S's visiting Namibians. He then even gave a shout out re the food collection fro the stage that night. When I caught up with him post gig to pass on their thanks, I got a huge hug in return.

Hmmmm thinks I - being hugged by a tasty man - lovely. Then my nostrils responded and I realised quite how sweaty he was.

So after a week of manic attention to personal hygiene I end up smelling of man sweat. Hey ho.

All in all some fabulous sights on the lovely new mainstage, but a better barometer of success for me is to stand in the pit on the back of stage and see a sea of happy, engaged faces.

Just like if you want any reassurance that all the hard work is worth it, there's nothing like standing on a grandstand balcony and seeing the campsite stretch as far as the eye can see and further.

I only wish I'd taken a photo.

The Definition of Mixed Emotions

On Monday evening finding a sign on the sold out Pie stall saying:

"Sorry - you ate all the pies!"

Amusing choice of words, but crushingly bad news none the less.

And personally I'd only had one.

Not like some I could mention, who did two in a single session and did multiple sessions...

Guilty I tell you - they ate all the pies.


At last year's Greenbelt Karen bought the Festival Ops Team a beautiful present. Recognising that many of us get to see precious little of the festival she brought a piece of it to us, in the form of Juliet Turner (accompanied by Harry Napier) performing a coupld of songs just for us in one of our daily Ops meetings.

It really was a special moment.

As people have commented again and again through the year.

Usually followed swiftly by Rob C muttering "well for those of us that were at that meeting...".

As it turns out you see, our Rob is a bit of a fan, and in a tragic twist of fate he happened to miss the meeting in question. Life is crual at times.

But sometimes wrongs can be righted.

This year Karen brought Juliet to another of our meetings and Rob was not only present, but graciously stepped aside so his 'thought for the day' moment that would have opened the meeting could be delayed a day and hence make way for a couple of songs.

As Juliet finished her final song, Rob in true uber-fan mode got up and asked her to sign a CD. And then had his photo taken and everything.

At which point an evil plan flitted into my head (it just kind of happens, it's really not my fault), which I duly whispered to my evil twin.

So come today's meeting, as Rob wrapped up his opening piece, we stood up, with specially prepared CDs (when my evil twin gets a challenge he meets it head on):

And Stuart and Nick even had their photo taken:

And I got my copy of "Rob C - The Safety Life for Me" signed:


Friday, August 25, 2006


This year the site vibers are doing us proud. Colour and inventiveness appearing all over the place.

Including the usual touches of humour, like the blue plaques on the busker stages.

Then again there is some site decoration that isn't quite where it should be. Is that a kiosk it's stuck to? No, surely not? If we can't even get Oli to...

Still all is forgiven when you see how they've used the review at the bottom (especially the treatment of the reviewers name). Pure class. High res version here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Stuart made me take a picture of the passing steam train (aka moveable fire alert, depending which steward you speak to). I'm really not sure why.

On closer examination, isn't there something wrong with this picture, as the saying goes.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


These are my buddies, the traffic boys.

They help keep me sane on site.

I know to look at them they don't immediately look like they'd keep anyone sane (including themselves), but they're actually very good at the job.

A jeep to hide in, a meal to share, an evil-plan to hatch, a shoulder to cry on.

These two and so many more.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Build Week

I've relented, I've gone soft.

Yes this year in a bid to better maintain sanity, I'm opting to spend the first few days of Build Week in the comfort of a somewhere with a proper bed and en-suite shower, before moving onto site fully.

I asked Sally if she was doing a Travelodge again (£50 per night room only - not cheap, but easy) and she replied she'd found a cheaper deal at a nearby hotel. £130 for three nights B&B.

Damn the woman's good at booking hotels:

Ok so it's all a bit Fawlty Towers and hasn't been decorated since the Tudor era either, but it's more than fine. Peeling wallpaper and fraying carpets are easily forgiven for this architecture.

Sally's room is in a turret, whereas I've got a room out the back of the courtyard. All a bit bizarre, but with the neighbouring couple of rooms I seem to have my own little private garden.

Exiting my room one morning, I was met by 3 small bunny wabbits scampering past my door, puff tails like cotton wool balls against the dew covered grass.

Then a few chipmunks appeared and a bluebird came and landing on my hand and started chirping a little song.

Well ok that last sentence isn't true, but in my bleary-eyed state it was all a bit Disney film.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Last Management Group before Greenbelt today.

The Lovely Jude has the day off work so we decide to address our shocking record of never having time to catch up and arrange to meet for a drink pre-meeting.

Sitting outside Liverpool Street station waiting to meet, I watch the world go by.

People rushing by, anonymous, dark suits, drawn brows, dead eyes, no chat, no smiles.

I'm glad I'm not part of this world. I'm glad I don't live in this city. However grey Manchester's skies might be, its people are never this monochrome.

But just as I'm thinking this a bubbly ginger head appears in light coat and I remember London is just the financial district in rushhour. A positive beacon of light.

Grabbing the drinks in the bar two things strike me. I expect more than 2 quid change from a tenner for two vodkas in a bog-standard pub and the two wide boys at the bar "alwight darlin'" sound like people up north accuse me of speaking, but sound so alien to me ears.

Is this it? After 17 years away, have I finally crossed the line into tourist?

Good lord I'll be walking slowly up busy London streets whilst consulting a tube map next...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

OK Go On Treadmills

Courtesy of Fragile Tender and now also One Pedestrian Away, comes the most inventive low budget music video I've seen for a long time.

Absolutely mesmerising, I challenge you to only watch it once ;-)

Friday, August 04, 2006

The perfect night off

The perfect antidote to too much Greenbelt stess? Free tickets to a gig courtesy of a certain very wonderful "muddled-ginger-headed" person. A Random Act of kindness if you will.

The gig was actually the filming of a TV show for Channel 4 and kicked off at 6.30pm. That would ordinarily have been a bit of a rush, but in a happy piece of serendipity, our client, who nine months previously insisted we had to relocate to their offices, insisted a couple of weeks back that we move back to our own offices by the close of today, resulting in a half day off.

The eviction came as the result of yet another reorganisation and rethink on their side. Usually we'd do the actual physical move of crates and IT on the weekend to avoid losing staff time. However, our client is adamant we must be gone by close of play today and the team currently located in our own office, won't vacate, until the end of today.

So, as of 12 noon we had to have everything including computers all packed up, ready for the movers. Nothing else to do therefore but send everyone home.

So after a bit more emailing at home, I meet T (who enjoys the flexibility of the self-employed) in town, for early drinks and some Tapas at Dimitri's.

Looking round who should we spot at a nearby table, by Damon Gough aka Badly Drawn Boy. More of him later.

Heading to Granada Studios location it's all a bit chaotic, but we pick up our VIP passes and get given drinks vouchers. The main audience members have obviously arrived a little earlier and the runners are desperately trying to get them out the area next to the bar and into the studios. Accordingly we have to fight our way through a throng moving in the opposite direction to make it into the actual bar area. Emeging out of the crowd, I look up see some backwards writing on a frosted window and remark "Fuck me, we're in the Rovers Return!".

After a leisurely drink we get escorted down to the studio and take up our posts behind the cameras as the proceedings kick off with The View taking to the stage. The sound mix is appalling, but then I guess the priority is to record it for TV, not for the live audience. However, even with that mitigation in mind, there didn't seem to be anything in the band's performance to suggestion they'll be going much further.

Performances and links get repeated and various people are interviewed (including Bez and Jon Simms). Worn down by the heat, we escape for some air.

Next The Longcut demonstrated that it just might be possible to redeem the concept of a lead singer who doubles as the drummer.

Badly Drawn Boy was wonderful as expected; hearing him play Silent Sigh is always a highlight.

By the time Orson bring their brand of bland rock and stupid hats to the stage for one number (repeated a second time for the cameras), most of the audience have given up with the waiting around for hours and hours. They didn't miss much. The small collection of about 30 folk left huddled in front of the stage is a bit of an embarassment really - I'm predicting some tight camera angles...

With everything completed we're ushered back to the Rovers and into a cordoned off VIP area, where we're served complementary cocktails.

Anyway, the whole thing will be on TV next Friday, but don't expect to see us, we hid behind the cameras.

Having had our fill of ligging, T and I don't stop long at the aftershow, and head on to Atlas bar. En route on Deansgate a voice calls me and lo and behold it's J and I who I haven't seen for over a year. J and I started work together 13 years ago, but have kind of lost touch. Last time I saw her was, as she points out, in another bar on another night out, on the other side of town. Having caught up on news we go our separate ways, joking that we'll meet up (in a year or so) at some bar or other in the Northern Quarter.

After drinks in Atlas T and I call it a night and I'm home to write my review over a nightcap. Not sure that it's a good idea to write it after having been drinking for a good 10 hours, but I am at least sober enough to realise that calling Orson 'twats in hats' probably isn't what the BBC are after...

A top night all in all. J you're a legend missus, and the planned pre-festival curry's on me ;-)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Curry and Ali and Nino

Moments after posting the previous entry I find an email from the lovely R.

"Curry tonight with M and I tonight?"

Well the cupboard at home is bare and there is a gap in my schedule, between work and Book Group, that will only be filled with Greenbelt work otherwise...Besides it's been far too long since I've seen these guys socially. A good catch up is definitely overdue, it just feels bad that at this time of year it's snatched bits of time here and there at best.

With a bit of juggling of commuting plans, M&R make the early meal. Very lovely of them and very much appreciated.

Rushing on to Book Group I meet the others sat outside by the bowling green that lies behind the usual pub. The green is immaculately keep and yet no one I know has ever seen it in use.

Tonight's novel is Ali and Nino, which I've read twice before. Enjoying it just as much on the third reading has to mean this is up there amongst my favourite books.

It puts the previous offering of The Kite Runner in the shade. If you want to read a beautiful novel set against the background of East meeting West, go for Ali Nino.

The Visionary Curry Eater

Research unveiled today, reveals the real reason for the 142 IQ.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Welcome interruptions

The world of broadband is still a delight.

The piles of emails and files to be downloaded, uploaded, off-loaded at this time of year are a breeze. Well from an IT point of view at least.

It still means I'm spending pretty much every spare hour, hunched over the laptop trying to deal with some of the million issues that need sorting before the festival.

Instant Messenger is another welcome addition due to the switch to broadband. B and I have used it to good end, going through hundreds of venue issues - a quick way of raising and answering queries, sharing files etc. Outside of that there's the socialising. I can hide when I need to, but good friends generally start any conversations with "are you too busy, or do you want to chat" anyway.

Suddenly I'm not working alone anymore. It's like having your best mates at the desks next to you. The small amount of distraction is worth it for the benefits.

New IMer Sally seems to be taking to it like a duck to water. Late at night as she sits with laptop in bed, she regularly catches me doing the last hour or two of GB work for the night. In the course of tonight's conversation, I mentioned that I was thinking about booking into a Travelodge or the like, for the first few days of build week, to help preserve some sanity. Sally does this each year, so I enquired where she'd booked for this year.

What a result - so glad I didn't just go and book a Travelodge direct. The wonderful Sally had just that night found an excellent internet deal on a posh local hotel that worked out cheaper than a motel. Joy of joys they still have a room available.

Yay! The terrible twosome will be sleeping in comfort in their private rooms and breakfasting together in splendour.

I'd tell you where it was, but we're keeping it secret.

It's a doss house really, any mention of Tudor mansions is strictly fictitious...