A message appeared on Facebook asking for help the following day…
It was absolutely pissing down with rain and half the expected volunteers hadn’t turned up to ‘tear down’ the stages.
The fact that they’d be working in a swamp probably had something to do with it, so after picking Haddy up from work, I’d changed, bid Haddy goodbye, and said I’d see her when she was older.
I turned up at the site at four in the afternoon and was immediately put to work trying to lever out the stage stays.
All I can say is never again.
I’m ten and a half stone of fuck-all, and I really don’t have the height, weight and heft to pull out a three foot steel rod that’s been hammered full length into the ground.
Having said that, I did manage to get two complete stages sorted before my body gave out.
Jeezus, that’s a bastard of a job and I don’t envy anybody having to do it.
I did find out why we had to open late, however ?
Apparently one of the traders took his van from the metal roadway that he was supposed to stay on, and tried to get to his pitch via the mud and grass…
He didn’t make it.
The van stuck at a forty five degree angle in the mud and since Health and Safety officers were on site, they had refused to allow anybody in to the site until the van was made safe and ‘righted’.
Personally I’d have pushed it over onto its side and left it there.
It might be somewhat irresponsible, but if one selfish twat can cause that sort of delay, then get rid of aforesaid selfish twat.
Nobody asked him to leave the metal roadway, and since that it what it was for, anything else is his responsibility including leaving it.
Therefore as soon as he left it for his own selfish reasons, we should have the right to say ‘Ok, you caused the problem so we are going to sort it out our way and you will have to live with the consequences of your actions and stupidity’.
Unfortunately some of us are too nice.
I have no idea what the Priory are going to do about the site ?
They use it all year for wedding photography and right now it looks like the Somme in 1916…
I ended by taking Andy back to Biggleswade.
Because we have a reasonably self-contained unit we never usually get to hear about the in-fighting between some of the other stages and the people involved.
Face it, I was very pissed-off about the problems that I’d had to sort out, but that was just problems that impacted upon us.
Yes, some people could have been a little more professional, especially with regard to the stage, but when Andrew started listing the catalogue of disasters that he’d been affected with, you realise that it’s not just you.
It feels like it at the time, and every year you always hope that the last problem will be the last one and people learn from it, but it never seems to occur like that.
One problem one year always seems to bleed into another problem the following year and nobody seems to learn from their mistakes ?
Apparently the West-Indian contingent, who always support the Sound System stage are seriously hacked off by being ousted by a bunch of whitey wannabee DJ’s.
That isn’t good.
Guys like Levi have been supporting this festival since day one and although DJ Derek apparently had a couple of thousand people dancing at one point in his set, the support slots hadn’t really been up to it.
Oh well, it’ll all come out in the wash.
Andrew finishes by telling me that it’ll probably have been his last festival as he’s so pissed off with the in-fighting, so fuck-em !
That would be a serious shame because he’s been a solid guy for all the years I remember him being part of it.
Still, maybe it can change for the better, maybe lessons can be learned ?
Trouble is, neither of us are holding our breaths.
Ok, one last embrace in case it really is goodbye outside his place, and then drive home with every muscle in my body screaming at me to just get myself into the warmest bath I could stand before going to bed.
It’s work as usual tomorrow, and I’m not looking forward to it one bit.
The following two days are a nightmare of pulled muscles and aches and pains that I’ve never had to suffer before, but at least my back had held up from the twisted muscle that had laid me low for a previous month.
Thursday dawns, and it’s the day of my Father’s funeral so we have to get up reasonably early to get on the M.25 for sixty miles North to South.
It’s not the best or the safest drive in the world.
At least now they’ve widened the road and added lanes around Heathrow we have a fighting chance of getting there.
Having said that, the journey wasn’t that bad until we passed Heathrow, and then it was one solid jam until we’d passed the M.3.
But we got through it, and finally reached Mum’s at about ten forty five.
At least now there is time to try and relax.
My brother had flown in over the weekend from the U.S.A. and was helping out where he could, but the overwhelming mood was one of total sadness.
It’s not just the fact that our Father had died, it had more to do with the fact that he was totally helpless and alone in a care home when he’d died.
He couldn’t cope at home and every time he’d fall then my Mother had to call out the para-medics and get him to hospital again, and it had worn her down totally.
Unfortunately, when you’re in that situation common sense takes a back seat to emotion and emotion wins out every time.
She had totally worn herself out, visiting him every day because she had felt guilty about him being in the care home.
But what else could she have done ?
It’s alright for others to criticize and say that one of us should have taken him in, but who is going to be around when he falls ?
Nobody apart from our Mother, and she couldn’t cope with him constantly doing so.
It’s sad when you lose a member of your family, but in my Father’s case it had been a relief.
Now he was out of pain.
What I will never forgive is the way he was treated in Epsom hospital.
Just because he was old, he’d been put in the ‘dementia’ ward and the ‘so-called’ nurses had just left him to it.
When we finally realised what was going on, I’d gone totally ballistic and called for somebody’s head on a plate.
My Mother, seeking to pour oil on troubled waters, had forbidden me to get involved and had asked my brother to sort it out from the U.S.A.
He’d managed to do so, but it wasn’t the best case scenario.
At least he’d got them to see that not washing him or feeding him for four days when he was incapable of doing it himself had not been right, but my attitude was it should have gone further.
The hospital trust should have had to answer for their staff, but it had never happened.
Excuses and promises were made, and although these were kept, the whole matter had been hushed up and swept under the carpet.
And people protest about the government’s take on the N.H.S. ?
Would privatisation work ?
Right now our wonderful National Health Service is definitely terminally ill and something needs doing.
The question is what ?
I’d had problems when I’d had my heart operation, so I knew a little bit about what goes on, but this had been completely out of order.
It’s true what they say about old soldiers…
They don’t die, they just fade away.
This was a man who had put his life on the line for his country and been wounded in the line of service, but when he needed his country it had turned around and spat on him.
And people ask why I (and a lot of other people it would seem ?) have no time for government restrictions and rhetoric ?
Let’s sort it out once and for all.
Either by a revolution or just by a lot of individuals taking a stand ?
Anything is better than what my Father had to face in his last few weeks and the sooner the politicians, the trusts and the unions own up to the fact that it does occur and stop trying to make excuses, then the sooner we can put the system right.
Unfortunately I can’t see that happening.
The politicians are gutless on one side and blind to what is happening on the other, and as for the hospital trusts and the unions, they’ll just deliberately hush up any wrong doing by their staff or their members for their own benefit.
It certainly leaves you with a bad taste when you have to go through it.
One of my daughters is coming down from her home ‘Oop North’, and will be arriving with my ex-wife and her husband, but the other one won’t be flying over from Spain.
Six month old babies with the colic do not make the best travellers, and that’s a fact.
It was a simple ceremony.
My brother wrote something about him and delivered it with some flair to the assembled mourners and there were a few tears.
His friends from the local bowls club turned up, as did a few of the neighbours.
It was simple but it was dignified, and I have the feeling that he would have appreciated that ?
The music, apart from the hymns, was Fats Waller and I think that was appropriate also.
Then it was back to the house for some food and drink.
I never really had any form of relationship with my Father.
It wasn’t helped by my Mother’s attitude of my Father, right or wrong, because you were never allowed to put your own point of view forward.
I worked it out that it was a product of their upbringing, the war years that they’d endured, and a belief in the core British values of ‘children should be seen and not heard’ and ‘always turn the other cheek’ and never fight back because it’s ‘vulgar’, being ‘sporting to your opponent’ and ‘policemen were honest and fine upstanding people…’
That might have been fine in the 1930’s but it had fuck-all to do with the times I grew up in.
All I heard and saw was prejudice based upon people’s colour, values and clothing sense, and any policemen I had come into contact with, were more interested in beating you up and planting drugs about your person because you had long hair.
And because they were policemen and fine upstanding people, they would always have the ear of the magistrate or judge and be in the pocket of the local newspaper.
It seems funny writing that now we all know it goes on, but back then you could have your life ruined by one of the bastards.
Somehow I’d worked out this sort of crap wasn’t for me, and I’d rejected it totally.
It caused problems.
I was ‘letting the side down’.
I’m obviously on the other side, then.
And that’s the way it had continued throughout my lifetime.
When my Father first became ill, he had brought it upon himself.
He had thought that a swelling in his abdomen was cancer and so he’d kept quiet about it with my Mother’s connivance until finally he’d collapsed in agony.
It wasn’t cancer, it was a faulty prostate.
Of course, nobody talks about such things in our family except me, and I’m considered ‘vulgar’.
When he’d finally come home from hospital we were all waiting for him and he seemed surprised to see me there.
Dunno why, he’s still my Father after all ?
Later that day, he came up to me and told me as such claiming that ‘he didn’t think I liked him ?’
‘You are a stupid bastard sometimes… You’re my Father, I love you… I just can’t stand your always right attitude when you’re dead wrong is all…’
And I hugged him.
How dumb is that ?
And he’s the one who never wanted it spoken about…
We hadn’t formally made peace but it could have occurred ?
Then he’d got sick again and was in and out of hospital so much that we never really had a chance to speak, mainly because my Mother would always butt in on any conversation and tell me what ‘Bill thought…’
Like he was incapable of answering for himself ?
Now he’d gone and he never would.
And yes, I do regret it.
My brother would be staying with our Mother for another week before flying back home, and so we were the last guests to go.
Haddy had a flight to catch first thing in the morning, and hopefully, Fatou was still hanging on and keeping her legs crossed ?
Luton airport at six in the morning is a soulless place, but I got her to the check-in and then had to leave…
She’d ring me when she got there in about an hour and a half.
Vincent would be picking her up from Glasgow airport and then I’d be on my own.
It sounds so silly, but I was missing her already.