Just a Stage - One Father's Music Festival Experience with His Kids
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“I’m pretty sure we can buy more water once we’re in there,” I say. “Let’s go find out.”
“We need to stay together,” I say. What I mean is: Don’t leave me. The festival has four main stages, a number of smaller tents, a vast array of foodstuffs, even a special children’s area, but it lacks the one thing I am desperate for: a chair. There is no sitting down to be done anywhere; there is only standing up and lying on the hard earth.
We walk the festival from end to end, alternatively listening to music and eating food. My wife’s hostility toward my bad back is nothing compared to my children’s cold indifference. They ignore the sudden, sharp intakes of breath and the quiet swearing. They consult the schedule, then the site map, and then they start pulling my arms.
“Ow!” I say.
“This way!” shouts the middle one. “It’s starting.”
I am jostled by crowds and struggle to cope with uneven grounds. Under the weight of the rucksack that contains our stealables, my twisted frame contorts further; one of my shoulders rises up to touch my ear. By the middle of the afternoon, however, I realize that I’m not going to die of a bad back after all, because I’m going to die of exposure first. We all are.
“We must have hats,” I say. “Find hats.”
After scouring the site for suitable headgear we choose two trilbies and a porkpie hat from an overpriced stall. It makes me smile to see my children in stupid hats, until I remember I am wearing one too.
It is after midnight when we finally get back to the tent and I can lie flat and suck on my giant wine bottle. Both boys are hyped up and in no mood to sleep. They are not the only ones. People are playing drums next to my head.
Life does not fly by when you’re trapped at a festival with a bad back, or stuck in standstill traffic on the M5, or listening to a child play “Moon River” on the violin for the 230th time. But this stage does end abruptly: Before you develop any sort of knack for dealing with it, it’s over.