Sunday, 1 February 2015

Family-friendly festivals

Some of you will know that it sometimes takes me a while to get round to things.  Friends and colleagues don't expect an instant reply to emails.  It has been known for them to experience up to three weeks of 'satellite delay' before I reply to an email with the answer to a question they'd, by now, forgotten they'd asked.  Regular readers of this blog will have noted that, although I had planned to write a Christmas message in December, I've maintained radio silence since November ... and it's now February.  In a similar way, I love magazines but have a particularly thorough and long-winded way of reading them:  when I buy a new magazine I like to browse through the whole thing, making sure I don't miss any of the more 'newsy' items, before filing it away for a more careful reading of the features at some point in the future.  That point can be several months after publication, when I revisit and relish the whole magazine at my leisure.  Goodness knows what would happen if I were one of that dying breed who take a daily newspaper.

One of the magazines I enjoy is called Songlines - (a world music magazine that's published eight times a year, and covers music from traditional and popular to contemporary and fusion.)  And so it was, in January, that I came to be sitting in Worcester's oldest pub, The Cardinal's Hat, finally reading Issue 102 (the August/September issue) of Songlines.  Here, at last, I read Matt Milton's fantastic piece about going to music festivals when you're a parent of young children.  Matt, evidently, was a regular festival-goer in his youth and writes, with great verve and wit, about his disdain for family-friendly festivals  (because festivals shouldn't be "orderly, comfortable things.") He describes the moment when he looks down and realises that the young child at the festival he's complaining about is his own.  Now, unlike Matt, I had never been to a festival before becoming a parent.  I had my children when ... well, when I probably should have been going to festivals.  And I didn't experience my first festival until my kids were old enough to attend festivals without me. I told you it takes me a while to get round to things; the first festival I went to was in 2011 (when I was touching 50.) The festival was The ArleyFest in Worcestershire and headlining was the amazing Seth Lakeman.  (I wrote about it in the blog, see August 2011 - A Musical Summer).


 I loved Matt's description of the dubious joys of taking a baby to a music festival but I don't think I'd have enjoyed my first festival half as much if I'd had my kids in tow. Matt's right, though, when he says parenthood is, in some ways, a good preparation for festival-going; when you are used to "being spattered with mucoid substances and Guantanamo Bay levels of sleep-deprivation", as he says, rain, mud and  dodgy toilets are no big deal. I quite fancy Shrewsbury Folk Festival this year, and now my kids are grown up, I can pretty much please myself.     

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Tony Gillam is Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Wolverhampton and Visiting Lecturer at the University of Worcester. An award-winning mental health nurse, he is also a freelance writer and musician, has published numerous articles and is the author of 'Reflections on Community Psychiatric Nursing'.