A few days ago I was sat in a field with 25,000 other people. It was a glorious day. The breeze took the heat and whipped it through the curved lanes of people and seats. The clouds flitted over head making the midday sun bearable. My feet on the lush green grass drew up an energy I can only feel in the UK; freshness, changability, cohesion. It was more than something I needed, I craved it, like sugar after dinner.
There was something magical about Fairport’s Cropredy Festival this year…something I’d missed. When we went about 5 years ago, this time with my husband, it was off kilter. Perhaps it was the heavy rain, more likely it was the drunken, unsupervised teenagers who stumbled onto our tent shrieking and needed medical assistance, but the magic had gone. Jon didn’t appreciate the music, everything was strained. We didn’t go the next year.
I think though, that there’s aspects of your childhood that become ingrained in you and build foundations for your future self. I’m not musical. I can’t hold a tune, could never be disciplined enough to learn an instrument (even though I tried…clarinet, saxophone, keyboard…and I only really realised this weekend that it is possible to know how to play more than one instrument). My dad is mad into music; he has thousands of CDs, more than he could ever hope to listen to. He owns gramophones, jukeboxes, vinyls, an original 1st generation iPod that’s never been taken out of its box! So many people walk around with headphones on, listening to the soundtrack of their lives. I don’t have that need. I can take it or leave it. I can sit in a room and not even realise there is music playing as I’m either to focused on what I am doing or thinking, or taking notice of the world around me. BUT, every boyfriend I’ve ever had since I was 16 has played guitar (apart from one who was drummer and that was a holiday romance and so doesn’t really count) and nowadays it’s like I’m in an open marriage with Jon’s guitars as the other women! As much as I might deny it, music is a massive part of my life. It dominates my relationships; folk rock is the soundtrack to my life.
And so 2013 rolls around and the idea of going to Cropredy is slightly more appealing. I’m still disenchanted with the idea of hanging about in a field for 3 days, and the demands of my job as coordinator of a summer youth programme means my time is limited, so I just go for the final day. Train to Banbury, bus to Cropredy just in time for the opening comic styles of Richard Digence and favourite animal song. Suits me fine…same the next year. Then I’m in the US. Life is an adventure; Colorado is just about giving me the nature fix I need.
Then I’m in LA; I’m stressed, homesick, almost depressed and trying to get my parents to come visit. They’ll hate LA but I don’t care; I’d like them to see my life now. They refuse. Not because they don’t care to see me but partly out of fear. Dad’s just got over pneumonia, family friends are getting ill and need support. No, it makes sense if they pay for my plane ticket and I come home. Then I get to see others too. Come for three weeks mum says. Work’s fine with that; it’ll help my homesickness. Ok mum, I’ll come, but I want to go to Crop. All I want is to sit in a field for three days. I want to feel the energy of likeminded souls, I want to see that Oxfordshire sunset, drown in the rain or bake in the sun, feel like I belong with all the other dippy-hippies – I need to recharge.
And so I did. I spent more time on the music field than I ever have. I danced a mighty morris with thousands of others. I experienced the charged emotion of the Pierce Brothers; Australian twins who, in an unprecedented event, came onto the stage unknown and got everyone on their feet. Their CDs sold out, their autograph queue stretched halfway up the field; they nearly cried with amazement and we nearly did to. I danced with old friends, talked to aging rockers, ate curried fish for the first time, slept on an air bed that wouldn’t stay inflated, bought beautiful dresses I’ll never find elsewhere, and scarves from the car boot sale for 50p. Most of all I soaked up the English sun, breathed in the moist chlorophyll and made myself present in the moment. No worries about rent, concerns about jobs and leaving was still too far away.
England is cold, it’s wet, it’s dreary, but that just makes you appreciate it all the more. We make the most of our nice days, we create comfortable homes for when we can’t. I grew up in fields, with nature, and appreciate how things can change, but ultimately still stay the same.