Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I've been in a communication black hole in the middle of the Lincolnshire Wolds and cut off from all news, blogs, Facebook. Even my mobile phone got tossed into my tent at the start of the Small World Festival and was then ignored while I was there from Friday morning to late Sunday night.

Organised and run by Susi Mulligan and Melvin Anderson at Badger Farm, Asterby, near Louth, it may be a small festival but it has a huge heart, a great crowd of regular attenders and some fantastic music.

I do love a bit of reggae and so Jah Misson Vibes and Dubble Bubble were headline acts for me. As a bit of an oldie, I guess I like to be snuggled up in my tent by midnight to get out of the rain or cold.

I've listened to Dubble remotely while huddled in a sleeping bag for that last few years but this year it was all a bit spoiled by the couple in the next door tent. Their raucous love making was rather distracting and however much me and my other half tried to ignore the humping and heavy breathing, the noise just got more invasive.

I was tempted to hand the lady an award for a sterling performance when I saw her the next day. She had to be faking it, I assured my other half. We were so worn out after all their hard work that we felt the need to get up at 3am (yes, it went on for hours) for a cup of tea and a cigarette.

At least they got out of it unscathed unlike another couple at a previous festival who needed the help of the onsite Red Cross Ambulance when their genital piercings got hooked up during the act, or so Festival gossip said.

The Band from County Hell is another one of my favourites for the foot-stomping Irish music they play. As I've seen them before, and it was such a gorgeous day, me and my other half decided to walk in the Redhill Nature Reserve which is all around Badger Farm as the music blared out from festival across the beautiful landscape.

As much as I love the music, the festival atmosphere attracts me just as much. I love that medieval feeling of walking around a basic communal camp where people are dressed like minstrels, fairies, jesters, with painted faces, pagan hairstyles, eating and juggling fire, or playing Poi and the stalls with all manner of Bohemian goods and wares and crystals for the spiritual.

I also love the crew team. I rarely see them at any other time but when we all get together again it's great fun. We work a daily three hour shift on the gate and then the rest of the time is ours to enjoy. We have communal barbeques and share most things other than lots of laughter including the beer, wine and spirits.

One group that I haven't seen at Festival for a couple of years now is Achanak. I recall dancing all the way through their performance and loving it. The year they played at Small World was the same year that Wellhard from Eastenders died. The band played a track in tribute and memory of this much loved hound.

The site holds two festivals. EcoFest is held each June over the summer solstice and Small World in mid August. At Eco, I remarked about how much I loved one of the crew's baccy tin. I said it was a great thing to have because when the plain packaging of tobacco comes in, then there will be generations prohibited from enjoying the simple art work on such packs which will become collectors' items.

The lady in question gave the tin to me at this festival just because I liked it. I was both delighted and humbled by the gift which she gave to me knowing how strongly I feel about this issue. I'm known as the smoking ban lady due to the fact that each festival I attend, the subject inevitably comes up ... a lot ... as does politics even though most people there are about as political as Rasta Mouse.

It's a shame my new tin is spoiled by the anti-smoker warnings and as this is a special edition tin, then I wonder why a health warning is necessary. Anyone who has never smoked is not going to buy a limited edition tin with raw tobacco in it before they start with a pack of ready rolled and packaged cigarettes from over the counter. Doesn't everyone in the whole world from cradle to grave know that smoking is bad for you?

The image on the back of old hands could have been worse such as a plastic cancerous throat but it served as an illustrative example when I told my Festival Friends about David Hockey's view of "the uglification of Britain."

The recent riots was another topic of conversation and it hit a chord with a lot of the young people there when I explained my belief that we've lost moral guidance and faith in the concept that our leaders know what is best for us from corruption of politicians, the media, right down to the chav on the street who will take what he or she otherwise won't get.

My own view is the media has forgotten its reason and purpose. It is supposed to speak for us to those at the top who make laws against us. It now works the other way around and enforces acceptance of views from the top down to those of us at the bottom.

Just about everyone there that I spoke to agreed that the smoking propaganda is mostly shit and based on paranoia and phobia but one young man who works in a hospital said smokers cost too much to the NHS.

Rage was suppressed as I said that as a child smoker who has paid tax on my product for 43 years, I still had a fair amount in the coffers waiting to be spent on my own health treatment in later life and it was something that I should be more than entitled to at the end of my life should I need NHS "care".

We also discussed this new concept of the "Progressive" and generally agreed that "progressive" does not just mean "different." Sometimes in the race to move forward, we actually find ourselves going back because the changes are not good or better than what we already have. Or as one young lady put it : "Why fix what isn't broken. They've tried fixing even the stuff that didn't need it and now everything is fucked."

Perhaps one example of this was the retired teacher I spoke to. He told me that he was burned out after years of working with kids who were labelled as having emotional or behavioural difficulties. It wasn't the teaching so much as the endless bureaucracy, form filling, tick boxing, and ultimate lack of motivation.

Before NuLabour he taught the kids enterprise skills. They had to design a product, market it, sell it, and work it at a profit. The kids chose what to spend that profit on at the end of the year. Sometimes they would go on a group trip somewhere special and sometimes they would split the costs and spend the money how they liked. As kids with little chance of gaining qualifications for professions or ever likely to go into public service, it was an idea that gave them hope and aspiration as well as skill.

After NuLabour, the head of Dept at his school changed. The new head of Dept decided it was wrong for the kids to keep the money to themselves. In future, the profit had to be donated to charity. The kids lost interest, some acted dishonestly and pocketed instead of handing over their own cash, and the whole scheme was eventually not worth the trouble.