The Download Diaries…part four.

Day four. Summer in England in a tent. That can only mean one thing. Rain. We donned our usual summer wear of waterproofs, wellies and hats and headed off for the other traditional English summertime tradition, the calorie-laden fry-up for breakfast. It was served on a paper plate and dissected with a blunt wooden knife and shovelled into the cake-hole with a fragile plastic fork. For all its deficiencies in cutlery and tableware, it more than made up for in taste. Fortified with bacon,eggs and toast we trudged to the arena. Today it was still muddy and cold, but the rain had decided to give us a break and we finally saw the Black Veil Brides, a favourite of my nephew`s, who was mightily impressed that his elderly Uncle wheelmonkey, (who is like really old and must be over thirty now…) actually got to see the band perform on the main stage.
After more beer and food we headed to the main stage to see the Steel Panthers. Spandex and hairspray took to the stage and I immediately felt thirty years younger. This was my era. I was even happier as the females in the audience suddenly felt the urge to disrobe. At this point I was rudely reminded that I am no longer a youth. My first thought was that she will be cold without her t-shirt on! I enjoyed the set, a joke that had a bit of good music behind it always goes down well.
As the ladies decided to put their clothes back on we headed for the bar selling the Otter brewery`s beer. I needed a nice pint and it was not a bad one either. The next band was on the second stage and called Skindred.I had read about this band and was convinced I would not like them. Reggae crossed with heavy metal, it sounded as appealing as a pint of Doombar with a cherry and a little paper umbrella in it. As ever in my life I was wrong. A lively and fun set including something I believe is called the “Newport helicopter”. This is where everybody is encouraged to take an article of clothing, (it was cold, I took my hat), hold it high in the air until told to swing it around. It sounds a rather strange thing but it is very impressive when a huge crowd suddenly starts to whirl all sorts of articles of clothing in the air. At one point in the set the singer started singing “All The Single Ladies”,normally performed by Beyonce. He waited until the crowd was all singing along and then berated them with ” Download, I am DISGUSTED that you know that!”.
Next band was Killswitch Engage, complete with the usual new/old singer. Wife, who is more clued up on these things than me informed me that the singer was the old singer who had re-joined the band, the singer I had seen at their last performance was the old singer who was now their old old singer…I was so glad she cleared this up for me. Old or new, it was a cracking set from a band that I had seen a few times before and had never failed to satisfy.
At this point I would like to say that I grabbed another beer and found a good place to watch Metallica. This would be untrue. It was so cold I had a coffee and satisfied myself with being able to see the video screen.
I thoroughly enjoyed Metallica. I have always enjoyed their music and I thought they did a good set, although I wish they had left the flame-throwers on a bit longer to warm us up. Wife, however, is not a fan. In the same way as marmite is the food of life to some and a poisonous black gunk to others, Wife does not “get it”. Still, she stood by me until they had finished and even admitted to enjoying “Sandman”. The next stop was surprisingly enough the bar back at the RIP campsite. Although the main bar had been shut down a tiny serving hatch was still open and we managed to get a couple of pints in before we headed back to our damp pitch. Nearly one in the morning…Rock`n`roll!


The Download diaries…part three

June.Flaming June! The rain was still pitter-pattering on the fabric of the tent as the greyness of summer penetrated the interior of our accommodation. The interior of the tent looked like an explosion at a camping shop. Waterproofs,jumpers and trousers were scattered around the interior at random and hidden under it all was a quilt, a sleeping bag and two bodies. The warmth that attracted me to stay in bed was being rapidly counteracted by the urgent desire to unload a couple of pints of beer.
After risking life and limb I put the kettle on. A cup of coffee later and Wife emerged, her usual morning humour fully intact. “You woke me up.I hate you.Where is my coffee. I hate you.Is it raining? your fault. I hate you.”
She skipped happily off to the toilets with all the vigour of a three-week old corpse. Wife has never been at her best first thing in the morning….

Later, much later, and fortified with a artery-blocking full english breakfast we headed off to the festival`s main arena, only to be told by the security chaps at the gate that there would be an hours delay due to the mud. Not what you wanted to hear on the first day of a festival really! Still, RIP has it`s perks and we headed off to the RIP area at the bottom of the hill to the right of the main stage. A teepee wigwam sort of thing that featured a bar and dryness. I was more interested in dryness than anything so we dived in and bagged a seat.
As is the case with Download, we soon fell into conversation with a couple from Newcastle and before we had realised it the arena was opened.

We squelched our way into the arena. The grass was visible in some places but the rain was settling in to a steady drizzle. We figured to go to one of the small stages that are covered to watch a few bands to start with. Gosh! about 60,000 other people had the same ides! It was a bit crowded to say the least!
We did, however, finally get to see a band I have heard so much about but never seen,Lawnmower Deth. They are a comedy type death metal band, a sort of cross between Bowling for Soup and Napalm Death. A good set and loads of fun, although when they were brandishing a lawnmower about I suspect that they would have struggled to find a blade of grass to cut.

Then there was a disaster! No Hobgoblin! Panic set in until Wife studied the map and spotted a bar serving real ale. I engaged four-wheel drive and skidded up the hill to the bar. Yes! Beer! I grabbed a couple and we settled down. The main issue had now become that although my beer seemed to be lasting for ages, it was getting progressively weaker. My addled mind finally realised that it was the water dripping of my hat and into my glass!
The rest of the day passed in a slither and slide through the cold and the mud. Finally, at nine at night, we saw one of the bands I had wanted to see for ages, the Prodigy. They did not disappoint. I like the Prodigy because they fail to sit in any sort of classification with an almost wilful smile. Firestarter and Breathe are two of my favourite tracks.
We splodge out of the arena and hit the pub in RIP for a final drink. We are cold and wet and finally get into the tent at just gone midnight. We are now starting to party! The rain continues to patter on the tent as I doze off and dream of dry feet and suntan lotion.

The Download Diaries…part 2.

The sun shone brightly through the canvas of our tent. All around us I could hear the cheerful bustle of happy campers getting breakfast interspersed with the sounds of joyous birdsong. Or not. In reality our body clocks had not yet got fully in synch with the english time zone so I was wide awake at about five o`clock. As ever first morning thoughts tend towards coffee and toilets so I hurriedly unzipped the tent and groped in the gloom for my trusty wellington boots. As my bladder started sending ever more urgent messages to my brain I stumbled around, half crouched, in the low porch that we use to store our chairs and tables. Finally I tugged my boots onto my bare feet and unzipped the outer door. The cold air woke me up and I looked vainly around for the sun. The sky was a uniform grey, the grey that comes with no warmth or joy, the grey of doom,the grey of a thousand ruined english holidays. I gallumped across the grass towards the row of portable chemical toilets.

The field was nice and green, the gateway, however, had been churned to a brown porridge by a few vehicles and a multitude of boots. I stepped manfully through the mud, nearly losing a welly in the process. I open the toilet door to see the floor about three inches deep in what I really really wanted to believe was mud. When I returned to our tent I was wide awake and ready for my coffee. I huddled in a chair as I waited for the kettle to boil and amused myself by watching the spots of rain on the canvas slowly turn to rivulets and then running off the flysheet.

A couple of hours later and after several cups of coffee we decided to head for breakfast. A slightly expensive but very welcome english fry up was wolfed down and accompanied by yet another coffee. As it was Thursday we now intended to head to “The Village” which is an area near the standard camping, which features shops, food stalls, a fairground and more shops. The previous year we had spent a fun day wandering about and spent a very jovial afternoon in the company of some very pleasant young people. ( I know now that as I refer to “young people” I am assuredly advancing rapidly through middle age to old age).

As we passed the hordes carrying their camping equipment and beer towards the standard campsite, we noted that in most instances camping equipment seemed to actually consist mostly of beer. The cheerful attitude of these happy campers was possibly aided by most of them deciding to lighten their respective loads by drinking as much alcohol as they could on their route march from the car parks.

Once inside The Village we realised that in horse racing terms the going was “soft to liquid.” The trudging of thousands of boots had churned the grass to a brown slop. The traders selling gum boots were seen to be dancing and praying to a rain god. I presumed that once they had sold out of waterproofs and wellies, they would swiftly convert and start praying to the sun gods to enable them to shift their stock of sun creams. We managed one slither and slide around the stalls and retreated to the comparatively solid ground of the RIP campsite.

That evening we decided to head for the pub, more to keep warm than drink beer, although as we were there and there was a rather good selection of real ales on offer it would have been rude not to try one or three of them! I even managed to stay awake to savour them. Bed for ten o clock. Still not much of a rock and roll lifestyle, but we are heading in the right direction.

The Download Diaries…part one.


 We decided to camp up at Download on Wednesday. This was because we figured that once the tent was in place, complete with kitchen sink, we would start to relax. We seemed to have done nothing but race around since our flight landed on Monday afternoon. We fitted in as many visits as possible, even including the bank and a post office, but jet lag was starting to loom large. As we arrived at the RIP campsite we were frazzled by banks not co-operating with us, busy post offices and a pub that serves food all day deciding to close the kitchen just as we were about to place an order. The marquee that guarded the entrance to the VIP RIP experience was all that we needed to get past to ensure a relaxed start to our five days of fun. We approached the staff, handed over our ticket to be scanned and the scanner bleeped and then made a sound like a duck being stomped on. We were concerned and rather worried. This was not helped by the staff all gathering around the scanner, looking at each other and saying ” Well, it`s never done THAT before!”   At this point I rather thought that security would be called and we would be told to head in the direction of  “Away” and our money would was forfeit and in fact in the hands of an internet fraudster. Just as my blood pressure reached boiling point a woman arrived who did a few things to the scanner and then scanned our tickets. The scanner bleeped but failed to make the mallard noise and I finally managed to breathe. Once we had our wristbands fixed to our wrists we entered into the very soggy campsite that was to be our home for the next few days. We were guided to a small field and parked the car. We took the tent out of its bag and looked blankly at each other at all the pegs,poles and bits of string that we needed to attach to the mass of fabric that sprawled on the wet grass. At this point it started to rain……..

 An hour later and I had erected the tent, pumped up the air-bed and opened a beer. For a change this was in fact the order it all occured in.It was probably because Wife guarded the beer and informed me that until we had a home there would be no beer consumed that I set to my tasks with a vigour which is normally missing from my day to day activities. There is supposed to be a minimum wage in the UK yet I slaved away for fifty pence worth of tinned beer…I have a hard life!

 Once the accommodation was sorted we donned our English summer gear, Wellington boots, coats and waterproof trousers and headed for the pub that is a main attraction to going RIP at Download. At this point if you are considering going to RIP at Download I will tell you this. DON`T. stop reading and look at another blog.

 Now that those who may buy tickets and make it a sell out have gone I will continue with my narrative. We arrived at the pub and found a rack of six barrels on display. I cried, fell to my knees and pinched money from Wife`s purse. There was a total of eight real ales on offer. In Hong Kong my choice is one! I thought about being sensible and having a half so that I could sample more of the beer on offer but considering that the gentleman on the left of me was about six foot tall and the one on the right featured a facial tattoo I guessed that ordering a half might seem a little “girlie” so I went with a pint of “Village idiot”. A rather good choice too, a very nice pint of beer. Sadly, jet lag kicked in and as I finished my pint we both admitted to feeling knackered and decided to call it quits for the night. We sploshed through the mud to our temporary canvas home and were both asleep before our heads hit the pillows. What a rock and roll lifestyle! Both in bed by nine o` clock!