“Enjoy the rest of your day,” the young woman said cheerily as she put her belongings back in her little crossbody bag and walked, in a faintly zig zag pattern, away from our table on the parched grass. She had the sweetest, warmest smile.
My friend and I had just been giggling with her, giggling in that helpless way like we did when we were kids. We'd spotted her walking in our direction, catching our eyes as she provided us with an unintentionally comedic scene: she was taking two or three steps at a time, then pausing to bend forward, hunching over to root around in her bag, but each time she did so the plastic beaker of wine in her other hand tipped forward too, spilling it on the ground. She’d straighten up, take a few more steps, then repeat the bend and the rummage, totally oblivious to yet more spillage. And again – more steps, another fruitless fiddle about in the bag and, oops, there goes the wine ...and she still hadn't noticed.
Wordlessly we motioned to her to use the table where we were sitting and she gratefully emptied her bag onto it, treating us to a running commentary on its contents, punctuated by infectious laughter. It’s hard to find a lipstick in a deceptively deep bag when you’re a little worse for wear. Bless her, she found it eventually, after the phone and the sunglasses and tissues and the hairbrush and TicTacs and a blister pack of paracetamol… after which we provided her with the services of a talking mirror (“Yep, that’s fine! No, it’s not all over your cheeks!”) while she applied it blindly, trusting us not to let her walk away looking like Robert Smith. Well, I felt a little flutter of love for this girl in that brief moment, for her sweetness and her laughter and her tipsy candour, I glimpsed a little of my young self in her too. Or perhaps it was just that I was feeling very mellow and just glad to be alive in the laidback, loved-up way that being outdoors surrounded by the sound of guitars and the smell of doughnuts can inspire. The sun was shining too, at last.
The small music festival on my doorstep had started that day and, honestly, it was a proper tonic just to go and soak it all up. I’m so lucky, I’m sitting in my garden now as I draft this post out on a scrap of paper the following afternoon, and I can hear it from here: the bass a constant, some vocals drifting in and out as the breeze carries them to me, probably not even half a mile as the crow flies, across the green, the graveyard and a few rooftops. But on Saturday, to be right there (in a field very familiar to me for being populated by sheep and jackdaws the rest of the time) and just to “do” the whole festival thing was still special. And even though the artists we saw were not ones I would have chosen to see in other circumstances, they were perfect for this moment; I let go of any pre-conceptions completely and just enjoyed what was on offer.
It was especially good too to witness three headline acts all featuring more "mature" women; very heartwarming when you are one yourself. So yes, Katrina Leskanich is 63, Carol Decker is 65 and Natalie Imbruglia is 48. They were all in fine voice, classy and energetic, and looked fab - and I felt kind of proud to have them on my home turf too. Katrina & The Waves performing 'Going Down To Liverpool' was a highlight. What's that you say? Why yes, of course they did 'Walking On Sunshine'! And whilst I can't think of any T'Pau songs I would actively decide to listen to, Carol Decker had some great between-song banter and I couldn't fault their performance. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night for me was Natalie... I've never really given her any thought; 'Torn' was one of those ubiquitous songs of the late '90s and that was about all I could think of but, you know, she really rocked out at times and I was far more impressed than I could ever have imagined; I got a bit of a Bangles / Susanna Hoffs vibe. Good on her, because she turned me around completely!
I could only make it to the festival on the Saturday night, but late on Sunday night we did at least get to hear Shaun Ryder's unmistakeable lilt drifting over to our windows and down the chimney on the northerly breeze. Black Grape were playing and I hope he was suitably sweary, it wouldn't be Shaun without a few expletives surely?
I'll be thinking about that, plus the girl with the giggle and the spilt wine, next time I walk through that field with the sheep and the jackdaws. They will still be just as much of a tonic.
Any festivals happening for you this Summer?