Mud and The Members: Isle of Wight Festival 2010

The Members, IW Festival 2010

No, not some ghastly combination on the Festival line-up this year, but the promise of glorious squelchy goo and the sounds of punk rock from 30 years ago.

Gentle rain softened the fields underfoot for my first experience of the festival campsite area. I’m not camping, but Jimjams is, so bought camping tickets. I had never realized quite how much the festival extended beyond the main arena and Strawberry Fields. It was already sticky and churned up by the time I arrived early on Thursday evening, just about in time for R U Experienced in the Big Top. I have a dim view of tribute bands, but until we all join the choir invisibule, hearing Jimi Hendrix in person isn’t an option, so the next best option other than what are now quite stale recordings is to hear someone else giving it a crack. Not a bad rendition, all things said, with some talented guitar, if not bordering on the genius of the original. Look forward to them later this year for the 40th anniversary.

On to the Kashmir Cafe, home of real beer at the festival. I only discovered this late last festival: a cash bar selling Yates’s beer from the cask, plus an alternative music set from the rest of the festival of a slightly folky or ethnic bent. So, main advantage: being able to buy decent drinkable beer without queuing for tokens that only buy quite appalling piss from Carling. Sat reading M A R Barker’s Man of Gold, drinking beer and eating liquorice from the St Valentine’s liquorice company, until Second Time Around had set up and started, Pleasant enough but ultimately I was heading for the Big Top for The Members and didn’t hang around for more than three numbers.

The Members are old. A 30-year-old punk rock band gone to greyness, baldness – anyone of a certain age who wears a hat indoors has, as it were, nothing to hide – and in one notable case fatness. Like having Danny Devito playing punk (observational credit: CJ Andrews). But fantastic. Close your eyes and the voices were the same: a magical trip back in time. Open them and it was scary old-age presence, with the threat of impending zimmer frames. Stayed for the whole set, which included International Financial Crisis (reworking of Offshore Banking Business), Working Girl (I still have the 7in vinyl single) and a memorable Sound of the Suburbs. Missed them? Well you can catch them again on the acoustic stage tonight (Friday): great blend of reggae beats and punk sound.

Squeeze, following on in the Big Top, were stale by comparison. They sounded old. Kicking off with Up the Junction was a mistake for there wasn’t much to look forward to after that, and after three numbers I drifted off back across the slightly drier fields to the trusty steed, padlocked to a farm fence, for a short ride back to base.

Torrential rain overnight will have softened the ground even more, so today (Friday) will be wellies day: the outlook for Saturday and Sunday is “scorchio”, so we’ll be caked in dry earth by the time Paul McCartney closes the show.

Festival album: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=237489&id=749182570&l=fddcd78ad8

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Wind in the Wellows, part II

Bless the fickleness of the Isle of Wight’s aspiring MPs, out for a vote, particularly Jill Wareham, Liberal Democrat candidate.

It is just a very short time since her spring newsletter arrived thought Island letterboxes, proclaiming support for the Cheverton Down wind turbine appeal and saying she “would like to see wind turbines here”.

Since then, the announcement has been made for a second attempt at constructing wind turbines at Wellow, a project that Jill’s husband Martin at least was against when it was proposed and he went around canvassing for the Lib Dems in the 2005 local elections (or at least that was the view he gave on this householder’s doorstep). Martin Wareham, by the way, failed to take Freshwater Norton from now provenly corrupt councillor Conservative Andy Sutton way back then (Sutton is currently one of several councillors suspended over their conduct in a planning application).

No one remembers Jill having an opinion about the Wellow turbines at the time, and she was ultimately ousted from the Brighstone & Calbourne seat in a year when Lib Dem heads rolled like an avalanche after the party cocked up its policy on the Island’s schools. She resurfaced in 2010 banging her drum as prospective Lib Dem parliamentary candidate.

Back to turbines. Come this week, and with not one but two wind turbine plans now in the offing, Jill’s election communication omits any mention of wind turbines on the Island. And although her steps towards a fairer Britain and priorities for Islanders have increased from 4 to 7, renewable energy (a fair future: creating jobs by making Britain greener) has slipped from third to fourth.

Supporting wind turbines will cost Jill the votes of the Island’s old people and the wealthy. It’s no surprise that all mention of them should be dropped.

The Arcadian Kicks: three in a row

It was almost too much to hope for, but one of my favourite bands from the Isle of Wight Festival is back for a third time.  The Arcadian Kicks play on Saturday 11 June 2010 in the Big Top, having played there in 2008 and 2009. It’s a bit tricky getting over to the mainland to see them on their regular Midlands circuit, so a third festival attendance in a row is a treat.

The group have now recorded an album, which is intended to see the light of day sometime this year.

Keep an eye on them at http://www.myspace.com/thearcadiankicks

Festival news: http://www.isleofwightfestival.com/bands/the-arcadian-kicks.aspx

First normal day

Today is the first normal day I’ve had since September last year. J. went off to work, taking Jimjams to school, and abandoning me to my quiet and bizarre world of toy soldiers.

She was cleared fit to work starting from Monday, and went off to see personnel that day to find out what was left of her job after almost 12 months’ absence. It’s not quite over: J. still needs check-ups every couple of months.

Throughout the past year, family, friends and even strangers have helped keep J., Jimjams and I going. It’s been an undeniably dark and stressful time, made worse by knowing that J.’s father died from leukaemia when she was very young (the condition, however, is not hereditary). Medical treatment has advanced hugely in that time, and the leukaemia team at Southampton have been something special.

It may, of course, take a little while for us all to get completely back on the rails.

Cracking up

Bournemouth pier
Bournemouth pier

Now that Janet is on the mend, I’m beginning to take more care of myself. The result is that I’m currently off to Bournemouth once every 10 days or so to get my wretchedly stiff back and neck sorted out, something I should have done years ago. Jimjams has been seeing a chiropractor to sort out her skating injuries, with impressive results, and every six weeks or so she goes to get herself “cracked” back into alignment. Last time we went I decided to sign myself up for the same treatment, and I’m currently on the introductory programme where the various wrong bits of me get wrenched back into place.

In effect I’m paying a woman to have me strip to my underpants, lie on a bench, and push me about. Hmmm. All I can say is that my neck works properly again, and my back has stopped feeling like it has been stabbed. Even though the neck work feels more like I’m a poor rabbit about to have my neck wrung for the pot.

Ferry and train conspired to make me arrive horribly early, so I wandered off to Bournemouth’s seafront for a walk – and to have sand blown into my face by the wind. I’ve grown up with faded Regency or Victorian seafronts, decaying beach huts and the tungsten-lit warmth of amusement arcades, from Broadstairs, Ramsgate and Deal, in Kent, to Ryde and Shanklin on the Island. And in the scale of things, Bournemouth appears like a second-rate Brighton. Not entirely horrible, but a pretty desolate seafront with some grimly priced chain-eateries such as Harry Ramsden’s, which manages to charge almost nine quid for fish and chips.

I am reminded that very long ago in Deal I got thrown out of the sole amusement arcade for playing one game too enthusiastically: I had one warning and then the owner shoved me in the chest and told me to get out. And there passes my moment of teenage notoriety: the moment when as a nine-stone weakling I evidently presented some dark and dangerous menace. After that, dear reader, I regret that I turned to beer and pubs…

Neil Young: IW Festival 2009

I was among the droves leaving the festival four songs into Neil’s set. A great and very talented musician, completely unsuited to the time of night, with a chill wind blowing off the Medina making standing doing very little an unwelcome prospect. We needed something to get us moving, but not in the direction of the exits. Got back to base and TV to discover Young had finished early, leaving vacuous ITV2 presenters Fearne Cotton and Rufus Hound only a deserted festival ground to show instead of the intended live broadcast.

If I hadn’t been trying to co-ordinate with Jimjams about meeting after the festival to get her home, I would have gone to see the Charlatans. Instead I spent over an hour in a car park waiting for her to make what should have been a 20-minute walk back into town.