Time seems to have passed so quickly since Glastonbury, all of a sudden we’re heading towards August bank holiday! I’ve not exactly been sitting on my backside, well I have actually, mainly in fields, with sunshine, good music and friends. Deb,her boys and myself went to Kendal, and yet again it turned out to be a cracking little festival. My brother and sister in law were also there again, and again they lost each other! They were heading to Poland and Ukraine the following week, I don’t know how they manage to arrive home on the same flight ! Back to Kendal, well not even that really as the festival itself is some 20 plus miles away near the village of Shap It rained most night whilst we were there, but the brilliant sunshine during the day more than compensated for it, as by the time the morning sunshine had done it’s work you’d never know it had rained in the first place. (Will someone let me know when my blog gets boring and I start talking about the weather.) After the vastness of Glasto it’s so refreshing to be somewhere where everything is just a short walk away, and there’s more than enough variety to keep everyone entertained. I finally got to see a band I’ve been chasing around for over 12 months, and even then it was purely by accident. Unlisted and unannounced, the band on the main stage seemed perfect to sit down and chill out to in the midday sun, and my ears pricked up two or three songs in when they started singing about the M62. Now anyone who knows me will know the mention of a motorway or trunk road is bound to attract my immediate interest. Saddo yes, and proud of it! And there they were in front of me on the stage, The Gramotones. They’re local, I have mates who know them, and everybody seems to have seen them except me…until now. Well worth the wait they were too. It would be too easy to throw comparisons to 60’s bands about, but it is refreshing to see young songwriters pay homage to the writing skills of legends from a period way before their time.
Less than a week later I find myself 1000ft above sea level for the Y Not Festival in the Derbyshire Dales. Only 40 miles from home, and sharing the ‘Best Small Festival Award’ with Kendal Calling for the last 3 years, it was new to me and was too inviting to miss. I’d been tempted for the last couple of years, seeing posters whilst driving through the area. I’ve passed right by it on many occasions when going to see my Dad. A last minute booking, between the two of us, M and I decided to go for it,a leisurely drive and a long weekend in the sun. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. We arrived on Thursday and the afternoon/evening sunshine was glorious. Friday started the same way, and even the arrival of rain clouds late day couldn’t have given any clue as to what was to happen. The Mystery Jets had barely begun their set when the rain began, and within minutes enormous cracks of lightning appeared on the horizon behind us. The storm was heading directly for us, and being so high there was nowhere to hide. Three songs in and The Mystery Jets were pulled off stage and the festival site was evacuated. In all the years I’ve been going to festivals I’ve never known this to happen before (I’ll await to deluge of emails telling me I’m wrong). With torrential rain and lightning hitting the ground all around us, the safest and driest place to be was the car where we sat listening to Fleetwood Mac on the stereo and watched the storm head northwards . To their credit, the organisers did get the show started again with the night’s headliners ‘The Horrors’, but by this time we were soaked and headed back to the tent to shelter the night out. That’s the delight of small festivals, Everything is within easy walking distance. Nothing was further than a ten minute walk away, and despite the weather, made everything so much easier than their larger rivals.
The weather did nothing that spoiled the weekend and the bands were more than good enough to compensate. I’ll start with ‘The Cribbs’. The only sour note from the weekend. I’ve never been a fan and so my viewpoint comes from a negative starting point but on the performance I saw at Y_Not, they are not good enough to headline any festival. Their performance was poor and the vocals sounded out of tune and at times awful. Most of the basic stuff was played by a session musician hidden away at the side of the stage. Come on guys, if it’s good enough for Johnny Marr who has been filling the role recently, to be standing on the stag beside you, then it should be the same for the guy currently doing your donkey work. Poor show guys. I’ll always have time for Twisted Wheel, still plying their trade on the minor stages and smaller venues around the UK. They have done more than enough to earn their place as one of the best rock bands in the country. They’ve served their apprenticeship and deserve much bigger things. Jonny Brown has become a polished front man that many better known artists aim to be like. The Jarman brothers could learn a lot from this band. The Darkness were Sunday night headliners, and despite my insistence 10 years ago that they were a gimmick, here they are a decade later bolder and brighter than ever. I bow down in admiration and applaud you. Amusing, entertaining and musically brilliant, what an awesome show you guys put on, you were terrific. Every festival should be made to have The Darkness as headliners at least once. Music lovers deserve it. The torrential rain returned late on Sunday night after The Darkness. It continued through the night and well into Monday, this time accompanied by what sounded like gale force winds. There were times I thought the tent was going to be ripped apart by the wind, and by the time we emerged Monday, the site was mostly deserted leaving debris and left tents everywhere. A scroungers paradise, but it was more than enough for us to drag our belongings through the mud to the car, never mind anyone else’s. Whatever the weather, whoever the headliners are, small is beautiful.
The recent arrival of a brown envelope reminded me that I’ve had cancer. There was I enjoying the summer, having the time of my life only to be brought back down to earth. The letter, that was an appointment for a CT scan, which means it’s now three months cancer free, and time to have another peep, just to check. Hopefully it’ll be more than a peep, I’d quite like them to take a detailed look, I don’t want them missing anything. For the first time I think I’m actually nervous. It was two years ago (7th August) since I received confirmation of what I already knew, and I don’t recall feeling nervous over any of the any of the numerous tests and scans that followed. In the next month I’ve got appointments for the scan, the liver surgeon, the bowel surgeon and then oncologist. The lung surgeon has already kicked me out, ‘job done’. It’s still another month until the scan, and there will be plenty more before I get the final ‘all clear’, so I suppose I had better get used to thee uncertainty.
Well that’s about it really, the summer is almost over. I say almost, but I hope, no expect it to continue right to the end of September. It’s always a good month. It’ll be busy for me, and I’ll reflect on the summer and what the future holds when it’s all over. I think the blog will be included in that also. It seems to have reached a natural conclusion at a time when it’s becoming harder for me to find the motivation or the time. M and I have been spending more and more time together. We’ve managed to get to a stage we are both comfortable with and I think we’re making progress in addressing the issues that destroyed our relationship. In the meantime we’re both having fun and enjoying each others company. It’ll be a few weeks until I get the results of the upcoming scan and subsequent consultations, so don’t expect to hear from me until then. I’m sick of hearing from friends arriving at the Reading and Leeds festivals this weekend, while I sit here with itchy feet. I don’t want to hear what a great time you’re having. Well I do really, hope you’re all having a blast, but I want to be there with you. I’ve not given up hope yet, who knows where we might end up this weekend.