Last Updated on March 5, 2023
Originally published in Beat Motel issue 4
What follows is an account of my first time at Reading Festival that was published in issue 4 of my zine. I have no recollection of writing this at all, so I can’t vouch for any of it. But I never promised you accuracy…
I always lied to myself that I would never go to a festival unless I was playing on some stage or other. I was 29 this year and decided it was probably time I actually splashed out on a ticket! I went to V festival a couple of years ago and drove home between the two days as it’s only a few miles away, but the whole event seemed a bit clean and kinda unfriendly.
Certain things at V just didn’t ring true with what I would expect from a festival, they showed you adverts on the big screens in-between the bands for one thing! So earlier in the year, I emptied the Beat Motel coppers collection and bagged a ticket to Reading Festival.
Thursday 25th August 2005
I put on an all-ages acoustic show the night before that culminated in my band (ZEEB? allegedly) playing a set with guitar, chest freezer and old gas cooker. I was playing gas cooker percussion with a big hammer.
For some reason, we decided to play the set wearing only a bin liner each, as a result today my feet are sore as hell and embedded with various bits of crap that flew off the cooker while I was bashing hell out of it. My hands also both have severe hammer shock, and both palms are bruised. So spending 8 hours holding a steering wheel wasn’t really ideal.
We left Ipswich at about 2pm and spent the time until we arrived in the festival overflow car park in a mix of standstill traffic, emergency back road piss stops, and the most almighty hail storm I’ve seen in my entire life, the whole M25 did an emergency stop, and nobody crashed, amazing!
Around the same time our mate and pitch saver Mafro rang up to ask where the hell we were, this was just as we hit the hail, all he heard was all four of us scream at the tops of our lungs then I hung up! Before the screaming, Mafro told us that he had to get a boat to the campsite as there was a river. I assumed this was a humourous comment to describe how muddy and wet the campsite was. As it turns out the overflow car park was so far from the festival site you have to jam yourself onto a boat with about 100 other campers and take a 20-minute boat ride!
By the time we got to the campsite, it had started to rain and was now dark.
As it was my festival I was carrying far too much, including a massive flag I’d had made just to take to the festival and a whopping pole it was attached too. We rang Mafro to ask for directions to the tent turns out far too many people had the same phone provider as me on the site so my phone wouldn’t work.
I eventually got through and Mafro didn’t sound like he was in a fit state to guide us anywhere!
He said, “go forward till you find an ice cream van”. We walked for about 40 minutes through ankle-deep mud and eventually came out the other side of the campsite onto the main road!
On asking the stewards where the campsite was we discovered that the festival organisers only appear to hire stewards that couldn’t find a pen in a pen shop.
We stumbled back dejectedly through the mud and filth and decide to do the only sensible thing, stop for a beer. After about another thirty minutes we eventually find Mafro and his minder/stabiliser by the Reaper bridge and proceed to go and get branded with our festival wristband.
Pete and Mafro kindly offer to help lighten our load and the crate of beer we’ve handed Mafro appears to help him hold his drunken balance a bit better, even when he went twanging over tent guyropes, which he did more times than I cared to count.
I was really impressed with the way he was using the beer as a counterbalance, each time one part of his body tried to go the opposite way from the rest he used the weight of the beer to pull himself back on track.
We stumbled our way through to the space Mafro had saved us and while my companions Andy, Dom and Emma put up their tents with some assistance from Mafro, I did something I have years of experience in, standing around looking a bit lost and useless.
After half cooking some of the best burgers ever (farm assured etc etc) we settled down to get acquainted with the twenty or so people we were camped with and drink some serious beer, unfortunately all I had was those cute wee cans of Heineken and they are far from serious, but they did the job. Bedtime was around 2.45am.
This was all I could find! I’m sure I wrote more but I can’t open the old MS Publisher files from this issue of Beat Motel.