- Drive across America.
- Buy a pair of Louboutins.
- Have a pink kitchen.
We all have a list. A list of the things we want to do in life, it might include the places we want to visit, the sights we want to see, the red soles we need. Not all of our ambitions, if you can call them such, have to be momentous or life affirming but there are some that will change your life. You’ll tell your family, friends and colleagues what you plan on doing, what you’re compelled to do and they may shake their heads and say you’re not up to it. Some may even say you’ll die doing it, and this is what happened to me when I told them my plan. They were worried, there were furrowed brows, and looks of downright horror when I told them. But tell them I did, I was going to go to a festival.
Yes, that’s correct, I was going to go to a muddy, cider fuelled, porta looed, welly wearing festival. It was a rite of passage, it was an experience, and it was On. My. List. I was determined, my tickets were booked and I was going. Even though everyone I encountered had an opinion on my going, ranging from ‘you are staying in a hotel aren’t you, you won’t survive otherwise’ to ‘Amanda you’ll die’, I wasn’t backing out. I’d bought a parka for Christ’s sake. Being treated like a wimpy princess who cries when she breaks a nail (justthatonetime!) only increased my determination. And credit limit – I needed some reassurance that a hotel wasn’t a complete impossibility.
So, armed with my sleeping bag (borrowed), rucksack (borrowed), wellies (brand new, pink) and credit card (escape route) I arrived with 4 of my best uni girlfriends on the Isle of Wight and headed to Robin Hill Park to spend the next 4 nights at Bestival.
I didn’t wash my hair once, there was never any toilet roll and my parka got splattered in green paint, cider and wee. I plaited my hair, kept Kleenex in my pocket, babywiped the wee and honestly? I had the time of my life.
Every day I made more friends, wore more glitter and danced harder in the mud. I hugged the Honey Monster, I YMCAed with a thousand others and sat under the stars in the Magic Meadow eating crumpets. The music was amazing, the atmosphere was magical and the weekend was unforgettable. I didn’t escape to a hotel and I didn’t die. I didn’t just survive; I revelled in every single second. I astounded everyone I knew but more than that I was amazed with myself. Even the toilets didn’t dampen my spirits because, truthfully, they weren’t that bad. And this comes from a lifelong hoverer. As long as I was armed with plenty of pocket tissues, a vat of hand sanitiser and the balance that comes with years of public loo hovering, I coped.
What was really staggering was the combined weight of baby wipes, face wipes, toilet roll, tissues, deodorant, body spray, hand sanitiser and chewing gum in my travel rucksack. In any spare pocket I had crammed another packet of tissues, another can of spray, not realising that I had got the hygiene to dressing up ratio all wrong. One of the many wonderful things about Bestival was the fantasy, the make-up, the eyelashes, the glitter! Oh my! And whilst I like to think I held my own in the starry eyed stakes, more is more. Only when the wind pinned my Stargazer Extra Long Lashes to my cheeks so I could no longer open my eyes did I really feel I’d reached my cosmetic potential. Every morning I would wake in an alarmingly clammy tent, grab my make-up bag and balancing a mirror on an invaluable camping chair, start the daily task of shining, sheening, starring and silvering. Looking glam rock and feeling rock star was an unrecognisable and wonderful world away from a daily commute and deadlines. I had been plunged head first into the Wishing Tree Field (real place) and was surprisingly happy to leave my hassles, habits and hygiene by the Psychedelic Worm.
Of course having a baby wipe bath in a sleeping bag isn’t very comfortable. Trekking contact lens-less in pyjamas to go to the toilet at 4 in the morning isn’t easy, particularly when you then promptly lose your tent. But when your biggest worry is deciding between an acoustic Ben Howard set under the stars or a tassel twirling burlesque show in the Stardust field, beat boxing in the Big Top or Royal ballet on the main stage, life is pretty good. From families of four with toddlers in tow to bearded fifty-something’s in drag, everyone was having a fantastic time and though rare for me, I relaxed. Yes I was beginning to dream of being clean. I couldn’t wait to see my toilet and sleep once again in a natural unsweaty fibre. So when the finale fireworks lit up the sky over Grassy Hill marking the end of four blissful days, I was ready to return mentally refreshed (nothing else was fresh I can tell you) to reality. I came home and after rinsing and repeating repeatedly I regaled festival tales, stunning everyone who had thought otherwise that I could do far more than just survive. Satisfied I could proudly cross a long held ‘To Do’ off my life list, I put the parka in the wardrobe and left the baby wipes gathering dust. Or at least they were.
Roll on September.