Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Rock of ages............

And then a man in drag with the glossy-lipped head of a female manikin strapped to this his chest, teetered slowly but deliberately in his high heels, across the makeshift stage, in what was definitely the weirdest show of the night. The best: a woman performing an hilarious 'drunken' striptease, while simultaneously keeping 7, yes 7, hoops moving independently around various bits of her body. Extraordinary. I was standing in a wood, drinking a Mojito, at about half one in the morning having accidentally come to Latitude..........

Continuing my pop-up summer, I had only discovered that Saturday morning, that instead of caging a day pass to the festival, I had weekend tickets and camping in the performer's area. Now, despite my embargo on all things tent-related, I've never been one to pass up a pass, especially when it involves a 'hospitality bar' and the all important 'porta-loo'.....

So it was, my friend and I found ourselves running around an underground car park in Euston at 5 to 1 in a desperate attempt to hire a car before it closed at 1. An hour later we still hadn't got out of second gear and we'd eaten the picnic before we'd passed the last tube stop. But eventually, with the clouds lifting and the sun shinning, we finally exited London, unleashing the might of the Clio, we roared up the A12.

While I stood staring at the bits of tent and peg my friend proudly inflated her automatic, heart-shaped, inflatable-double-bed. Having never planned to camp again I hadn't retained any erecting-knowledge. I'd also lent it to a friend the week before, to go to another festival; it now appeared to have been returned with only half the pegs, bent at unamusing angles. Eventually it was up, secured by it's one remaining guy-rope, and my friend realised the automatic, heart-shaped, inflatable-double-bed wouldn't fit through the opening, so she had to deflate it and start again, by which time our fellow-fetivalees had us pegged as a couple of inept, lesbian campers....

Hot, and not a little bothered, all our worries floated away like dust-mots in the Suffolk evening, sunshine, once we'd ordered our first pint in an eco-friendly, reusable, plastic beaker. I came to the first ever Latitude 5 years ago, just a few thousand folk and a flock of painted sheep. That was a spur of the moment idea too and we broke down on the way. But being newly in love, I didn't blame my boyfriend for being an idiot in a car with a colander for a radiator, I just laughed, coquettishly of course. The tow-truck driver had dropped us at Ipswich station before taking the car back to London, and with the hot sun high in the blue sky, we ran down the platform, just in time to catch the last train to the festival. It was all very Richard Curtis. The last time I came, Latitude had grown to five times it's original size while our love had shrunk, and I knew then me and the boyfriend would not be coming back, together, again.

As I have already said, camping without drink and drugs is just not humanly possible. So, sleep under canvas had all but alluded me. However, watching a suited and booted, Marcus Brigstocke chow down on a full-English, while I main-lined coffee, provided the first entertainment of the day. Next up was Tom Jones doing an un-scheduled, Sunday morning set on the main stage. Biblical. We also saw Steve Mason, Mumford and Sons, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Belle and Sebastian, opera in the woods, a play in a tent and the sublime La De Dahs singing such classics as Eminem's 'Lose Yourself', in the style of The Andrews Sisters. And we barely scratched the surface, there is so much stuff. And a lot of people. Notting Hill must have been empty, the streets of Clapham Old Town deserted, tumbleweed blowing down Stoke Newington Church Street, Latitude is what it is. They even turn the water features into multi-coloured fountains from which emanate magical images, sort of acid-lite: all the fun of a trip for those over 40.........

Top Tip: Make your own festival: kick back with a cocktail in the garden and lose yourself in Tom Jones's Praise and Blame.


  1. We got last-minute Latitude tickets and as camping novices had to but a tent, sleeping bags and inflatables too - I tell you, it nearly ended in divorce! I have never sworn/needed a drink so much as I did on Saturday afternoon in Southwold.

  2. Ahahaha! This is brilliant!!

    ps- stop by for the ebelskiver giveaway. you could always take it camping on your next "adventure". maybe mix a drink in it's hollowed out spaces (hehe)

  3. I love a spot of camping - but I am a country bumpkin. You dont need pictures on your blog, as you describe everything so perfectley, but I do widsh this had photos!!! xxxxx

  4. I've always said I wouldn't go camping but for a festival maybe it's worth it? Loved reading about your experience! x

  5. Sorry to take so long to comment! I'm loving hearing about your pop up summer. I wish I'd seen you at Latitude. It took me most of the following week to get over it. What a lightweight I am now! xx