Thursday, 10 June 2010

Glastonberry Fool

I was lying on the sofa, while 'the rain auditioned at my window / its symphony echoed in my mind', to quote Marillion. I started asking myself if there was some reason it had started to rain quite so much, when it hit me: this is festival season. Of course it would rain. One Glastonbury a few years ago had so much rain that people caught 'trenchfoot', a disease brought on by trudging through mud, a disease not seen since the battle of the Somme in the First World War.

My own experiences of Glastonbury are largely dominated by rain. My main view of the festival was through the triangle of the tent flap, as I watched groups of people trying to negotiate the elements, women negotiating with men for a piggyback ride to the stage in exchange for very public favours later - it's impossible to have sex in a tent without everyone around knowing about it, especially if you leave the light on.

Anyway, I had another homework assignment. I had to choose three memories and use them as the basis for a short story. I chose going to Glastonbury, playing the guitar and writing a satirical nursery rhyme as my themes and the story is below:

Glastonberry Fool

It was hard to say whether it was raining again or still raining. Had there been a break in the downpour? Was there a moment unaccompanied by the repetitive tapping of raindrops on the roof of the tent? Alex didn't think so.

“You know, I think it's been raining every second since we got here” he said. He inhaled deeply on the joint, and drew the air into his lungs, holding it in. He let it out slowly, tendrils of smoke hanging on the air like blue-grey vines and gathering in clouds at the tent's low ceiling.

“I've told you a million times, don't exaggerate!” Simon sniggered at his own joke. This was one of his stock phrases and he used it whenever he could. Someone laughed at it once years ago and now he thinks he's Oscar Wilde. He's forgotten he got it from the Young Ones. The irony is that he may well have used the line a million times, in which case the absurdist wordplay just becomes banal truism.

Alex reached over and passed the joint. “Maybe this will keep you quiet for a minute.” He shook his head “I can't believe I've spent all this money on the bloody ticket just to sit in a tent with you for three days”, he said, running his fingers through his hair and dislodging some threads of tobacco he'd slept in. “Some of the best bands in the world are playing four hundred yards away and we can't see them because you're scared of the rain.” He cracked the last beer open. It wasn't supposed to be the last beer, they were drinking way quicker than they'd intended, but they hadn't intended spending the whole Festival in the tent.

Simon's face showed a look of mock umbrage. “Moi? I'm not the one who brought suede shoes and a gay Bon Jovi-alike tasselled suede jacket to a rock festival. What were you expecting? Of course it was going to rain. It's Glastonbury! It's all part of the fun”. He picked up the acoustic guitar lying between them, shook off all the loose tobacco and rolling papers on its back and placed it on his lap, tuning up the G string which inevitably slips whenever the temperature rises. “We're here at a rock festival. We should at least hear some live music.” He started strumming, a basic four-four rhythm, experimenting with major chords in the key of G. An idea crystallised as the cannabis caused random synapses to fire in his brain and he started to sing, new words to the old tune of 'Once I Caught a Fish Alive: “A, B, C, D, E, once I went to Glastonbury”

Alex giggled into his beer and joined in. “F, G, H, I, J, then I had to go away”. He reached down for the Rizlas and started to roll another joint.

Simon carried on strumming and humming while he thought of the next line. Then he had it: “K, L, M, N. O, tell me why you had to go?”

Alex sprinkled tobacco into the waiting paper and remembered the night before. “P, Q, R, S, T, because I took some LSD”.

Simon worked out the next letters and was pleased with how quickly the line came. “U, V, W, tell me how it troubled you?”

Alex thought for a moment and punched the air. “Woof, wibble, X, Y, Z” he shouted. “I hear voices in my head”. They both collapsed into giggles.

“Brilliant”, said Simon. “Let's do it again and I'll record it on my phone”

“Do what again?” said Alex, licking the paper and rolling the joint closed.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed that, and oh how true for so many, Glastonbury is the wettest and muddiest of all the festivals :)