Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back in Manchester

As has now become traditional, the Dog Collar and Rabbit Corpses household and I head to the Punjab, for a post Greenbelt curry.

It's the perfect way to reacclimatise to the ordinary world post Greenbelt.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Greenbelt 2007 - the aftermath

Once the last festival goers had safely left site, the team spent the rest of the day recovering clearing up and getting ready to head home.

Overall it feels like a very successful year, stunning weather, a broad programme, a bumper turn out and whilst there was a wealth of minor incidents it was all handled smoothly and for the first time for several years there was no single major incident.

There are always things to improve, but generally the team functioned fantastically. The four of us Fest Ops Mgrs introduced a behind the scenes rota that helped organise our time better and combined with a more structured status definition via Control, it genuinely felt like we were more able to take time off, guilt-free.

Actions taken to try and pull-back the workload and period for Fest Ops teams seemed to work (though some elements are clearly more of a work in progress) and the combined efforts to reduce numbers on-site in pre-week, led to a much calmer and safer feeling lead-in to the festival.

As I head home late in the day, I'm tired but happy. Glad for all the friends I spent time with, sad at the number I either missed altogether or only managed to snatch a few minutes with. It's always the way.

Plans for 2008 are already underway.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Greenbelt 2007 part 4

The weekend seems to have gone faster than ever; today we're racing towards the end.

The image above has to be one of my favourite of the weekend. The giant kites were flown by these guys and were the result of a lot of to-ing and fro-ing after the past few months as various parties tried to find a space that would work for the kites.

It was a tricky proposition, a really large space is needed to fly these beasts, it needs to be an area which will allow the kites to be seen from the main festival area, and above all (and this was the crunch one) it needs to be an area that can be spared and kept free of parked cars.

Everyone came together to try and make all that happen. And it did. And what better a vindication for everyone pulling together than the photo above.

The final guest for our Fest Ops Mtg is Martyn Joseph, who treats us to a couple of beautiful songs. The second, a Dave Matthews' cover also provides a classic moment, when STR responds to a radio call and exits the meeting, just as Martyn opens with the line "Where are you going with your long face".

Tonight is my festival highlight music wise, when Duke Special takes to the stage. Surrounded by my buddies, I'm in seventh heaven as the music sweeps me up and transports me with it's beauty.

Once the programme element of the festival finishes the hard workers gather in the Organic Beer Tent for a private party.

This is the festival moment I needed. Surrounded by some of the most amazing people on earth, I may be needing to stick to the soft drinks and stay sober, but I'm drunk on the love and the fun.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Greenbelt 2007 part 3

The guys at Sanctus 1 were responsible for this year's Sunday Communion and given that a) I think they're generally pretty excellent people and b) they seemed to be coming up with some of the most creative ideas I'd seen for a while; I had planned to break my usual "hey Sunday mornings are quiet, I can sleep" policy and actually make it to the service.

Sadly, still recovering from the migraine of yesterday, a few hours in bed seem like a better choice. However, I believe it went well, and it will always have a special place in my heart as being a Greenbelt first, in organising something that required a call to the Civil Aviation Authority (releasing 1000 helium balloon prayers).

I haven't actually seen the risk assessment, but I like to think it went something like this:

Activity: Releasing 1000 helium balloons
Potential Hazard: Balloons getting into an aeroplane jet engine
Probabilty: low
Severity: errrr quite high, you know, couple of hundred dead, that kind of thing...

Fortunately, through calls to the CAA and the only local airfield, the management of the risk is quite straight forward, but it's one to stick in the memory.

The rest of the festival seems to equally running smoothly. The sun is shining gloriously, there's art around every corner and everywhere you look there are people grinnign and having a fine old time.

It's that general festival vibe that I love. The way people take some time out of the ordinary of life, to come together, sit on some grass, let music drift across them, let themselves be surprised and moved by the unexpected, meet new people, spend time with old friends, generally find those little bits of heaven.

Today's little piece of heaven in our ordinary Fest Ops Mtg, is the ever wonderful Iain Archer.

After hours backstage at mainstage, there's a little private party for K's 40th. Time to toast Dolly's reaching of a landmark.

It's a lovely moment, a breather from the rest of the madness, and the sight of G trying to light her ciggie from a night light and inadvertently turning said cancer stick into a wax soaked candle.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Greenbelt 2007 part 2

Well today would not rank as one of my better Greenbelt days ever. Stress, politics...all the stuff I dislike and the result a massive migraine complete with endless retching, eventually halted by an injection administered by the lovely medics.

And they are lovely; truly wonderfully amazing.

Still there was one extremely wonderful glimmer of light. Pre-festival, when JL mentioned at Mgmt Grp her proposal to bring Tropical Inc to Greenbelt for the youth areas an idea was born in my mind. What better to bring to one of the daily Fest Ops Mtgs than a Meerkat?

Enquiries were made and the lovely JL arranged with the Tropical Inc guys to make it happen and so it was that Timone the Meerkat came a visiting.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Greenbelt 2007 part 1

To try and capture all of Greenbelt 07 in a few blog posts seems like a futile exercise, but I want to just record a few bits so I can look back and remember.

Today started as normal for a Friday of Greenbelt. Cars queuing in 'Dover', the ferry terminal style set-up that helps keep any traffic build up off the public highways, waiting for the campsite to open; last minute finishing touches happening across site to make that possible.

Then it gets manic, and for reasons too complex to explain here, I end up donning a yellow jacket (about the second time ever at Greenbelt) and standing on the entrance to the racecourse attempting to convey through the act of mime the message "keep your vehicle moving off the public highway, don't even think about stopping, no I won't talk to you".

It seems to come down to arm movements; a combination of single and double handed sweeping moves whilst smiling and shouting "keep moving", seems to be the most successful approach.

I'll try and remember that I was mucking in and undertaking a basic but needed function to ensure the good people of Cheltenham could see we were doing everything in our power to minimise the impact on local traffic and try and gloss over the fact that backstage Dolly K, commented "why is 1iz stood on a traffic island acting like a gibbon?".

My personal private mission for the festival, is to get some acts from the festival into the Ops meetings and from a chance idea at the curry the night before, my request of a favour is granted and the Revd Gerald Ambulance opens today's meeting with a slightly different take on a devotional.

Later, with Greenbelters still arriving I meet up with P&S and GB Ops buddy S and we watch Billy Bragg.

He's as wonderful as ever and jumping up and down to Accident Waiting to Happen, was a fine way to round off a very busy day.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Retro-blogging Part 7

As is traditional, GCSE results come out on the Thursday before Greenbelt. In years long gone, the public telephone booths would have been buzzing tomorrow, with 16 year olds trying to phone home to find out the contents of that envelope.

Nowadays, collection from school on the Thursday appears to be the order of the day and accordingly K Snr drove back to Manchester with K Jnr and friend A last night.

I don't know how K Jnr or A are bearing up, but father Stuart is a bundle of nerves. I try to engage distraction devices such as "count these meal vouchers", but to little effect. At one point he's on the verge of vomitting with nerves.

When the call comes, it's good news (like we knew it would be), fabulous results for both.

So proud of K and all the hard work she put in.

Back in festival world, it's one day to go and the impetus is definitely building. All the hard work is coming together, the site is buzzing and around 10am tomorrow we'll open the gates and this private playground of the last few days will go very, very public.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Retro-blogging Part 6

Halfway through pre-week and everything is starting to come together. Hard work, but a pleasure when surrounded by some of the loveliest people on earth.

A mixture of staff, Ops and others head to the Rising Sun on Cleeve Hill for the evening and the hardiest amongst us ignore the manager's warnings about 'unbearable cold' and sit outside to watch the glorious sunset as we eat our grub (no the irony of the pub's name has not been lost on us).

Sitting on Cleeve Hill, watching the sunset beyond the racecourse, all seems right with the world. It might all come together yet...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Retro-blogging Part 5

After a morning with the folks I head to site.

The tented villages are more advanced than any previous year and this combined with the new permit system for pre-week appears to be having the desired effect of creating a far calmer, more under control atmosphere.

After a day of setting up and getting ready, the evening is spent on the campsite, where S and her lovely assistant (hinderance?) D, cook up a pasta storm.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Retro-blogging Part 4

Down at my parents' pre-Greenbelt, it's a time to chill before the oncoming storm.

My brother and his family come across on Saturday for a barbecue.

It's good to have the family together like this; all so different, but all with something in common.

And playing 'Aunty 1iz' can be pretty cool at times.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Retro-blogging Part 3

I was going to head down to London mid-afternoon, but the traffic website told of two hour delays on the M6 in Staffordshire. Predicted to clear by early evening, it seemed like a good plan would be to use the opportunity to clear more of my deak and head down after the rush-hour.

Trouble is the predicted clear time just kept going back and back.

I head off around seven, but it's nearly ten before I get past the chaos.

I phone Stuart and suggest if he's not doing anything this weekend, it would appear that V Festival are in need of a traffic manager.

Whereas some festivals get grief if the roundabout immediately outside their perimeter is backed up for the shortest period, other festivals appear to get away with bringing the whole of the north west midlands' road network to a complete standstill for an entire afternoon and evening...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Retro-blogging Part 2

Down in London for the last Management Group meeting before Greenbelt, I have a bit of time between the train getting in and the meeting start and manage to squeeze in a quick drink (or two) with the lovely ID.

ID is an old friend from Manchester who moved down to London some years back. One of those lovely friends who you never intend to lose touch with, but suddenly realise that years have gone past and only the occasional email and Christmas card has been exchanged.

With his new (academia based) job, just near Euston, it's time to put that right.

So, so good to catch up. Some people you don't see for years, but the friendship just slips naturally back into place easy as.

Maybe just one more drink eh?

Besides it's only after we sit down on the pub bench, that we notice that under the mass of blooms lies this bundle of cuteness.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Retro-blogging Part 1

Life has been rather busy of late, so apologies for the lack of blog action.

I'll endeavour to catch up with some retro-blogging...

Heading into town this morning the sun is already blazing and as I cross from the bus stop to Market Street, kids are playing in the Picadilly Gardens' fountains.


Some serious shopping and one haircut later, I'm home, but too bushed to go out again. Maybe I'm getting old, but a night in in-front of the telly seems like the perfect option

Friday, August 10, 2007

Tony Wilson

RIP Mr Manchester.

I'll always be thankful for the music you helped bring into the world, into my world.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


A brief visit to Book Group tonight before heading how to a laptop full of festvial related emails (keeping on top more or less thouygh, so that's good).

Unsurprisingly I hadn't got more than a third into Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai, so I'm ill-qualified to share thoughts on it.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Leaving Meal

S from Book Group is about to move south, so we see her off with a farewell meal at Felicini's tonight.

Good food, good company.

She'll be much missed.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Simpsonise me

A mini-ambition of sorts achieved. I am a Simpson's character:

Well at least that's what the SimpsonizeMe website reckons based on an uploaded photo of myself (ok I may have photo-shopped the hair a little on the resulting image...).

Just need to remember to be wary of Sally if she says she's peckish. As commenters to this post observed, we suspect she's eaten Bart.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Time-off for Good Behaviour

After yesterday’s dedication and a couple of hours this morning, the rest of the day is mine to relax in.

K has spotted some bargain jeans in Matalan and I some good bits in the Next sale that I think might suit K, so we head to Stockport (not a normal shopping destination of choice).

Matalan is a new experience for me. Not all to my taste it has to be said, but some real bargains if you look hard for simple pieces.

Bootcut and slim fit jeans, ok quality, various colours, available in different lengths - £10 a throw. I buy two.

Next more annoyingly has recalled half the sale stock since Friday, but undeterred K finds two lovely tops in the new lines and all in all we head home happy.

Just time to pick up a bottle of champagne from mine (tired of waiting for a special occasion) and then it’s back to the DCaRC household for a BBQ.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Meals on Wheels

A pile of festival work is sitting glaring at me from my inbox and To Do list; so in between household chores it’s nose to the grindstone time.

Hopefully if I can break the back of it today, then I can have most of tomorrow off.

Well that’s the plan and one I need to stick to; even when certain lovely friends text with news that K has just cooked one of her infamous lasagnes.

Oh lead me not into temptation, I can find my own way very nicely thank you.

Summoning up all possible will power I resist and stay in, head in the laptop, ploughing away at the fast diminishing pile of actions.

Another text arrives.

"Meals on wheels. With you in 30 minutes."

Ah man, I know some lovely people.

As I munch through a sizeable portion of the amazing lasagne, we sit and chat. A perfect break from the toil. P&S can rest assured, instructions for my ‘care’ at this time of year are being very ably followed.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Conference Calls and Harry Potter

Fitting everything in is something of a challenge at times. Well at least if you assume that sleep is not entirely dispensable with and I’m coming around to the idea that it might not be.

Today after a busy day in the office I need to fit in a Greenbelt telephone conference and then hopefully I’m having an evening off, watching the Harry Potter film with K.

Serendipity smiles on me as Stuart gets added to the conference call allowing a cunning plan to be hatched; I’ll take the call at theirs and then K and I can head off straight away after.

The plan almost works perfectly, except workload means I’m a little late leaving the office and so I have to start the call on my mobile, before attempting to seamlessly transition to the speakerphone in Stuart’s study. Hellos to the household are performed silently, which works well on all fronts apart from Millie the dog, who wants to jump up and say hello in her usual enthusiastic manner.

Apparently she can’t lip read when you silently mouth at her “down Millie, can’t you see I’m on a phone call?”.

Excitable hounds aside, taking the conference call with Stuart is definitely the way to do these things. It’s someone to roll your eyes at when the urge takes hold and halfway through the call, plates of food are silently slipped in front of you. Very civilised.

Next it’s on to the cinema with the lovely K, for a good bit of escapist entertainment with excellent company to boot.

Then back to the DCaRC household, where they’re clearly starting to settle in. Pictures have been hung and the rooms are filling and starting to feel lived in. The house is slowly turning in to a home.