She was – ok, the best way I can describe is grizzled. She was the lady at the festival. Little purse tucked in her arm, dress long and flowing, self-contained look, on her own. Like me – I was on my own too.
We’d both found a place to stand by the centre railing at the main stage. The last band, Coldplace were setting up. Coldplace? Is that a typo error? Nope, unfortunately not. Because this was the Big Tribute festival, Aberystwyth’s biggest annual music festival. It’s the tribute festival to end them all, featuring acts such as The Bootles, Maybe Gaga, KopyKat Killers and Guns 2 Roses. I heard Simply the Best as I came in through the main gate. Hold on – was this Tuna Turner? Please let it be. Complete with hanging fish.
When I saw the grizzled lady, I’d been in the festival for approximately fifteen minutes. I’d bought a ticket hours before. We’d had to buy an adult ticket for Lulu to go the festival. And Lulu wanted to go. She’d wanted to go months before – when she realised all of her friends were going. Why were her friends going? Apparently because this is where everyone from Aber goes on August Bank Holiday. The niche market for the local music festival – filled with everyone you normally see in Morrison’s and at ballet and walking down the High Street.
The woman lit up a cigarette. I caught it in the corner of my eye. Instantly I wanted it. I wanted to pull long drags into my lungs and blow out as slowly as possible. She exhaled right over me which helped too. I second-hand smoked this woman’s cigarette. It was a guilt-free experience, me and the grizzled lady, both of us smoking and alone.
I’d dropped Lulu off at midday in the full August sun. Was due to meet her here at the main stage at 10pm. Shall I call her, I thought? No, I’ll see if she wanders past first. The idea of it – all these people, thousands of them and Lulu walking past. And she did – it took about half-an-hour. She sauntered into the space – in a crowd of five of so. Her friends looked nice too – all of them alert and happy. Lulu looked directly at me and then looked away. She did it again. And again. Boy, she really is blind I thought. Meanwhile, Jamie was carrying her bag and checking she was ok. In this moment I hoped those two never changed.
Coldplace began. In My Place began to play. I felt a tingle of excitement. Then the projector behind the stage focused on an equally grizzled-looking Chris Martin. As if Chris Martin had let himself go, aged prematurely and failed to attend the dentist regularly.
Coldplace’s singer was trying to look and sound like him too – the t-shirt over the long sleeves, the blond hair. I guess it must have been strange for this guy when Coldplay got famous. He must have had a lot of, ‘Did anyone ever tell you you look a little like..?’ And had he ever met Chis Martin? What would Chris Martin have made of that experience? The mind boggled.
It made it hard to concentrate on the music. If the frontman been nothing like him and more like, say Kevin Hart, it would have been a richer viewing experience. But then, I did have people all around me dressed up as Deadpool, SpiderMan, German Fräuleins and with large amounts of face paint and glitter. And that was just the adults. Fancy dress was on stage and in the audience. The grizzled lady took out another cigarette. I fixed on it. Awesome.