We awoke on the first night to find someone had tried to get into our tent (and that in the supposedly secure Crew Camping field); twenty minutes later they tried again, my "what the fuck" being greeted with an unconvincing "oh sorry mate, wrong tent." Morning confirmed foul play. Many had had their valuables nicked - by a stroke of luck ours were locked in the car.
Then I lost a day to a particularly vicious migraine.
And then there was the rain. Torrential, unremitting rain. And when there's rain at a festival there's mud. Fields of pristine grassland turn quickly to puddled clay, a sticky syrup of tiramisu that sucks at your boots and your spirits and gets in everything, on everything, under everything, until all differences are erased in homogenous brown. Try walking in it without slipping. Try dancing in it. Try keeping your spirits up when your clothes are damp, your socks are wet, you feel the first bite of a stinking cold, and then someone accidentally walks off with your wellies (thankfully theirs were dry and a good fit too).
We saw some great music: the Warsaw Village Band, The Egg, Green Angels, Duncan Disorderly & the Scallywags. Celtech played a blinder on the main stage and even brought the sun out.
We went raving in the Solar Dance stage and danced like it was 1987 (well, not Nomi - she would have been 3). The music and lasers were mind-bendingly good.
I gave a talk on the Judaeo-Christian notions of time underlying much of the current 2012 millenarianism (as you do), and gently argued the case for a more pagan, spiracular framework for thinking about psychedelics (if you're interested, a version of the talk is coming out in a book later this year - more soon). It seemed to go down well.
But really, what made the festival so good was the chance to reconnect with alternative culture, with different ways of living, thinking, doing, making, and, yes, playing. It gets lonely out here. We all need to recharge.
There were some truly inspiring talks (about which I shall blog later) and a lot of creative beauty. Here's one example, a tent with a load of candles in. Very nice. But then we learned that these were peace flames. Someone lit a candle from the smouldering fires of Hiroshima and that flame has been kept alight ever since in the name of peace, in the hope that it might never happen again. There are peace candles burning continuously around the world. Suddenly a beautiful night sculpture took on a whole new level of meaning. I found it profoundly moving.
Wod played on the Sunday evening, in the new, specially provided dance tent, with a proper sprung floor lovingly made by Rob the Farmer (to whom much gratitude is due). It was a small, intimate gig, but nonetheless intense. People were sat outside too, listening as they watched the sunset.
We left shortly afterwards, ready for home, but with that bitter sweet feeling of wanting and not wanting to go. The festival always has to end but I suppose we take some of it away with us, and I don't mean the mud.