Thursday, 28 May 2009

Mods, Rockers and Sea Shantys

I loaded most of the PA system , my guitar amplifier, a couple of tents and a heap of other stuff into Althea and headed off to Watford to pick up Ocelot's guitars and amps and my drums. Thanks to bank holiday traffic on the M25 it took 4 hours to do a 1.5 hour journey. I set off back down the M25 and into the traffic again and got to Mersea Island 8 hours after leaving home. Althea is heavy and sluggish at the best of times but when she's carrying an extra ton and a half of gear she's understandably a lot slower and harder to handle. She did extremely well and though slow at times she was great.

While there was still light I set up the PA in the entertainments tent and the separate PA for announcements. My friend Bev who organized the whole thing said there was a wedding reception that evening so I popped over to the other side of the island and by about 9 0' clock we hit the party.

I stood in the entrance watching the scene, aware that my mouth was trying to smile and be agog at the same time. This had to be the funniest, weirdest party I had ever seen. The best thing about it was how naturaly silly it was and not a bit forced or pretentious.

Because it was held on a muddy beach and half the guests had arrived by boat, a lot of the guests were in wellies or waders. The bride wore hotpants and the groom wore a DJ with wellies. The food was a table piled high with french bread, cheese and sausages. Another table was piled high with strawberries and cream and empty champagne bottles.

The band were a Liverpuddlian Irish band who were all a bit drunk too. Milo (the local Jack Russel who lives in everyone's house) made an appearance. I offered him a sausage which he politely took and then discarded.

There were people in tweed suits playing concertinas, a couple of teenagers drunk on vodka. A woman dressed in a sari was chatting to a pirate. It was bizarre and lovely. All I could find to drink was gin and tonic and a pint glass to drink it from....Bad idea.

I woke up safe in my ambulance with a french stick in the bed and a box of strawberries teetering. I also discovered I had a sore head and a craving for bacon and eggs which Bev supplied shortly afterward.

The festival was a huge success. We had hoped for maybe 3000 people over the weekend and got more than that on the first day. My day started with small local children's song and dance groups then onto singers and bands in the evening to finish. The PA performed well, the spice girls comedy act was a huge hit. Ocelot (the band I play drums in) wasn't that big a hit (laughs).
After Ocelot had finished a guy who had been taking phpotos came up and introduced himself and I, thinking he was a musician performing later, wasn't very surprised or impressed. When he looked dissapointed I was confused and had to ask why.
It turned out that he wasn't a musician at all but a friend from Second Life who had driven hundreds of miles to meet us. Oops. He was OK when I explained.

In the evening we planned to have a barbecue on the beach but it turned out to be a mass of concrete and mud where we were so opted for a whip round to buy tickets to the Rock and Soul festival next door. After a few jibes with security about Mods and Rockers sharing a festival and a short wait for bev and jilly to fetch food and portable barbecue we set up camp. It turned out to have been a great move. The festival was fantastic, the food was great, we saw bands we loved , we all fell in love with the girl who played keyboards in The Staggers and when the tide came in it was so close I fell asleep to the sound of waves a few feet away. Toby and the band stayed up all night dancing to Northern Soul.

Next day they all zombied around waiting for Kris with their lift home while I managed to run the entertainments tent for another day.

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