PERHAPS one of the most miserable moments of my life – and I spent nine months living in Wolverhampton so there have been a few – was waking up in a leaking tent in a field in Cumbria in the so-called summer of 2008.
I was wet, cold and sharing my sleeping bag with a friend who had contrived to forget his own.
The fact he was hugging me in his sleep I could live with – enjoyed it, frankly – but I couldn’t help feel a pang of resentment when I realised he’d climbed in without taking his wellies off.
Do a mate a favour, end up with cow turd in your bed. There’s probably a metaphor there but it’s probably not one you should dwell on.
“Still,” he said as he woke. “British Sea Power play tonight. Fancy a beer?”
I did. It was 10am. We sat under a canopy, wrapped in coats and regret, looking out at the drizzle, reflecting on how we’d paid nearly £200 to be there.
It was the last music festival I ever camped at.
Right then I made a decision: I no longer wanted to be one of those people in the newspapers every year wearing ponchos and determined-to-have-a-good-time grins while claiming that a bit of torrential rain causing a bit of a quagmire all add to the fun – and if you don’t agree then, dude, you’re the kind of square who would ask Marlon Brando what he was rebelling against.
Well, here’s what I’ve got.
Music festivals are literally the worst thing ever invented.
Do I mean ‘literally’? Yes. I would literally rather spend the weekend in a nuclear holocaust than at Glastonbury.
Sounds dramatic perhaps. But, look at it this way: at least in a nuclear holocaust there’d be no chance of (a) stumbling on Coldplay doing a set or (b) meeting a Guardian-reader with a tab of LSD and a desire to find himself in the magic circle. Aye, you go and find yourself, old bean. Make it quick, though. You’re due back in the Home Counties Monday morning.
See, here’s the thing: I like my music as much as the next man (assuming the next man isn’t Daniel Bedingfield) but I like it in black back rooms where, sure, there might be too much sweat and spilt beer but at least there’s no chance of getting trench foot.
Which – I bet you know where I’ve slowly been going with this – brings me to Tramlines.
How utterly perfect to find myself (upon leaving Wolverhampton) in a city which puts on a festival where there’s no need for camping, no need for ponchos and no need for asking oneself those most existential of festival questions: Why isn’t there any toilet roll in here? And would anyone notice if I walked out wearing only one sock?
Tramlines – with your dozens of dark, dingy venues; with your mysterious bands which a square like me has never heard of; with your stages just ten minutes from my front door – how I love you.
Me and thee, we were made for each other.
That friend feels the same.
He visited last year and loved every moment. He slept in the spare room. We made him take his shoes off at the door.