I’m sitting in my car waiting for two people to get to me in an uber. The car is already full of stuff. We will have to put one more tent and more bags in somehow. Then we will drive out to Reading. To an actual festival that is actually happening in the actual world. Medicine Festival.
It is in partnership with the health department people. If the health department is as competent as Education or Culture then the chances are we are all already dead. But I’m hoping it’ll be a pleasant experience. 600 people. Booze free. A field. Some tents. Lots of talking. People with lots of beads and Sanskrit tattoos will be talking slowly with beatific smiles. I’ll be lapping it up, enjoying the fact I can be at a booze and substance free event like this in times of Covid.
Part of me is worried though. Part of me expects to be ushered down narrow channels in the trees by stern men with hazard suits and gas masks. All the hippies conveniently in one place. Corralled into a field where a helicopter drops a gigantic statue of Boris Johnson onto us all.
On the list of things to bring, the first thing is your mask. Will we be sprayed with strange chemicals, injected with trial vaccines? Will we come back with six arms each. Ah. My friends have arrived. Time to drive and find out.
So far there has been a conspicuous absence of tanks. It has been mostly lots of people dressed in tribal clothes, some earned and more pretended towards. There’s lots of lovely music and it feels very small and intimate. Right now I’m sitting on a log a long way from the fire. There’s enough space here to accommodate many more than the 600 people gathered here.
I’m out on the edge, writing this. I’ve been sitting here a while, listening to the music, looking at the trees, taking it all in. There’s a camp fire burning a short distance from me, that I could go to if I chose. Right now though I choose to sit here. There’s a little bit of my self identity in this space – in the bit between the light of the campfire and the dark of the woods. The liminal space. I often feel it’s here that I am most myself – neither wild nor tame but happy in wildness as in society.
The stars are clear and sharp through the treetops ahead after the clouds opened like a burst bag of soup as I was driving up. Periodically the romance of my placement is shattered by someone coming over to have what they think will be an unobserved piss behind a dark tree. A very pleasant young fellow is telling us that “life is amazing” on the tiny mainstage, accompanied by drums, guitar and a flexible approach to tone. I like him. I think I’ve heard him before at something like this.
I’m very happy to be here. I didn’t think I’d get my festival this year. An important part of my wind down from the unusual stresses and concerns of daily life. This year has been harder than many, but life is bringing me light in many forms.
I suppose it’s time to go back to the campfire and pretend it’s where I belong. Four nights here, and it feels like a peaceful place.