18 June 2009

Lizard Festival Part 1

Lizard Festival
Goonhilly Downs, Cornwall
August 7th - 14th August

Once upon a time there were twelve hopeful and maybe slightly illusioned young(ish) chums, who after a chance (?!) remark from our favourite follically deprived DJ decided that they would 'blag' their way into the Lizard by 'pretending to be a cafe.'

Our naivity levels have reduced in a spectacular learning curve since then.'Go on, try it, it'll work, here's Biff's number.'

Oz: "Hi Biff, we got your number of a mutual Lazy Baldy Chuff of ours, Iain Lazy Smith, and were wondering if it would be OK to bring our sound system down to the Lizard and, er, basically, play house music, loudly, 24hrs a day for a week?"

Biff: "Yeah, the guy with no hair to speak of warned me you were going to ring. I met you at a party you lot did with DiY about 6 years ago on the Kent-Sussex border."


Biff: "That's the one. Around a thousand people wasn't it? DiY didn't show till 2 in the morning. Your tent fell down."

Oz: "Zion Train played on our rig at 6am and chilled it right out. As they left they asked for £50 'expenses'. I said 'it's a free party man' but still coughed up."

Biff: "You gotta get in touch with Magnus the Markets Manager. Here's his number. Pretend you're a cafe. It'll be a piece of piss."

We have to send a presentation of what we do, what our set-up is, which apart from the sound system side of it is zilch. So, we pass the details to a computer whizz kid chum of ours, so she can do a 'mock up' of our 'caff'. She then proceeds to forget about it for four weeks. Four weeks later, after repeatedly trying to email a Mac document to our PC, she comes round to the flat clutching a crinkled bit of paper which has on it a clip art picture of a box van, with a cabbage leaf on top, saying 'Cabbaged Cafe', accompanied by the proud boast that we have two tables and a chair (which actually turns out to be a gross exaggeration on the chair front, but that's a whole other story). Suddenly we get an offer to have the stall as long as we pay £1,800. By now though, we have people who have realised that if they buy their tickets through us, we can use the ticket money to take the cafe. Suddenly we have a chef and people willing to pay in and do the work. Miraculously we are now a cafe. We raise the money, send off the cheque (another steep learning curve was experienced here too, but more of that one later) and we're actually going to do a cafe at the Lizard and there's no backing out now. Not at all.

Pulling strings and trawling through our contact book we procure a 'kitchen' (thanks Burger Dave), hire tressle tables and a till, blag the use of a Merc van for a week (thanks Andy), pack the whole fucking lot in it and blat down to Cornwall. Meanwhile, already in the Exeter area, is 'the rig' doing a Fruity Antics Free Party for 1000 in a cowshed only recently vacated by its former inhabitants a mere two hours ago. But not most of their 'grass conversions'. The party is for Josh's 21st and what a lovely little party it is. Accoutrements of the finest order abound and the extremely generous nature of these fine West Country people is most appreciated by the 'tVC Maaasseeve'. Ahem! Afforded wide spread and open use of the facilities on offer greatly enamoured our host upon our heart. Drinking Pims and ice cold Sprite cocktails with Josh's mum and dad in the kitchen of their well appointed farmhouse we talked turkey and chased the breeze in a most uproarious fashion till, well, till the cows came home. Setting the equipment up in the usual 10 minutes (oh, them free party workouts do wonders for shaving minutes off the setting up time don't they) our host remarked that the last party here the rig turned up at 11pm and promptly took two hours to set up. At 7pm we had ignition. At the first sounds coming out of the speakers the herd of cows ran like fuck across the field and formed a bustling if somewhat monosyllabic crowd at the fence. They were gurning for England and we were well chuffed. So this is what its like in the country ey?
The party went extremely well. Fruity Antics DJ's Dave Duvet, Bazil, Iain 'Baldy' Bastard played the majority of the night.Even birthday boy Josh slipped a few in and Oz managed to squeeze out a few tunes to warm them all up.

After a few hours rest in was down the pub to laze and doze away a hot Sunday afternoon on the grass with Chris Doze and his jolly chums. Come early evening, oh dear what's happened there, the restaurant has opened. May as well have a quick meal before heading for Exeter and a few deliciously lazy days of chat and riverbank pub lunches in the company of our most respectable and adored chums Tara and Iain.

But, inevitably, the call of the Lizard became too great. We had to secure our pitch and wait for the café to arrive. Coz we hadn't done this before we were well keen and arrived Tuesday (the festival started Friday afternoon) full of beans and well refreshed. Once the 10 man bell tent was up we, er, did nothing. Nothing at all. There was fuck all to do. We talked to the Nutters (a large vegetarian cafe) next door. Met Dave and Wim (a gas engineer who later helped us set up the café without blowing it up) the potato man ('aarh! Threeee pound a saark') the dairy man ('I do deliveries every day') and a lot of already bored out of their skull Scottish security people.

Turning up at the gate this security person briskly sticks his head in the car window.
'Got any bottles?' he asks in a thick Glasgow accent, eyes boggling and a silly grin on his face obviously enjoying himself. 'Er, no,' we reply.
'See that?' he points to a metal container, the same sort that goes on the back of a train or a transport lorry, 'I'm gonna fill that up with bottles of booze by the time this festival finishes'.
'Nice', we reply.
'Y' see, there's no bottles allowed on site. Y' can bring cans in but no' bottles'.
'I see. Can we come in now? We're The Cabbaged Café'.
'What's this?' he says pointing to the rig on a trailer attached to our car, 'It doesn't look like a fuckin' café t' me. It looks like a fucking sound system'.
'Well, it is a sound system but it is only part of the café. The rest of which is coming on Thursday'.
'Och eye!', he says, winking, 'I understand. Park over there'.
Over there is a car park behind the red container. After parking up I go round in front of the container to chat to them. The container is empty apart from three cases of French Blond beer; the first casualties of the upcoming bottle purge.
'All dodgy vehicles without passes, sound systems and everything else that is not coming in we put in that car park', I'm informed. It's not a good start for the Cabbages.
'How do I get the rig in?' I say in between bouts of the security playing their favourite game (picking each other up roughly and then throwing each other onto the grass, guffawing in loud Scottish laughs).
'Aye. Y' hav' t' get (this guy) to write a letter giving you written permission to get on the site. He is the only person delegated with this task. Without his say-so and without the letter of permission you do not get the rig onto the site.'
'And how would I go about getting (this guy)?'
'See him over there? He's got a walkie-talkie. Ask him to send out for him'.
It takes an hour and a half and three or four reminders to finally get 'the Guy Who Can Let Us On Site By Writing a Letter' to appear. By this time there is another three sound sytems all stacked up in 'The Pen'.
'I can't give you written permission to get into the site unless you have a letter from Magnus (the Markets Manager) giving you permission to get permission'.
We don't have this letter. 'Magnus said we just had to turn up', I say feebly, which he did, 'and it would all be sorted out on the gate'.
'OK', he says nodding, scenting a blag, 'I can't write this letter here, now, without permission from Biff who was booking all the acts. And I can't get hold of Biff because he's not on site at the moment. He's coming tomorrow. You'll have to wait till then'.
He turns round and starts to walk away.
'Why don't we ring him?' I shout after him. 'Have you got his mobile number? No, well, does anyone have his number?'
By this time there are a good half a dozen people standing around, some with clip boards, some with walkie-talkies, some with mobiles and some with Scottish accents.
I ask all of them in turn. All blank faces except one.
'I do', she says scrolling through her mobile till she finds it. It is written down on a piece of paper which I attempt to give to 'Letter' man.
'I ain't got a mobile'.
'Has anyone got a mobile?' I say looking round at about four mobiles in various people's hands. There is no reply. They all avoid eye contact.
'Will anyone let me use their mobile for two minutes?' I plead. Still no eye or voice contact.
'Will anyone let me use their mobile for two minutes for 50p?', I try.
'Me', 'Me', 'Me,' They all say. Suddenly there is a face full of phones and someone finally gives 'Letterman' their phone. I give 'Letterman' the piece of paper and then give 50p to the phone owner. Letterman calls Biff.

Three hours have now past and it is starting to get dark. It has already been raining for the past hour and it is also getting a little cold. We all huddle inside the container to shelter from the rain. Our voices now have a strange metallic echo and everyone has pulled their hoods up. The security start to crack open a few bottles of the confiscated blond beer and a few cigarettes and rollys are lit up in the gloom.
'Biff, we've got The Cabbaged café here with a rather large rig and they say they have permission to come in.' Pause as he listens intently. 'Yeah! Yeah!' Pause.
Letterbastard turns with a smirk. 'He says he's never heard of you and you can't come in'.
He's about to press that red button on the phone.
'Hang on. Hang on' I shriek. The security men bristle a bit upon hearing a raised voice.
'Let me speak to him.' He hands the phone over. The container is silent. Everyone is looking, expectant. Representatives from the other sound systems trapped in 'The Pen' huddle round to see what the outcome will be.
'Hi, Biff?' (Don't be stupid! Of course it's Biff you idiot. Don't lose it!)
'It's Oz from tVC…'
'Hey, how are you doing? Why didn't he say it was you? Put him back on'.
'Biff wants a word', I say as the phone is passed back. All eyes switch to Lettertwat.
'Uh-huh.' Pause. 'Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Yep.' He pulls the brainfryer away from his ear. 'I can write you the letter'. 'Yeah!!!', everyone shouts and punches the air in relief. Or was that just me? I think it was just me. He wrote the letter with a pen I lent him onto a piece of A4, also supplied by me. He gives me the letter, I then give it to the security guy (who had to put down his bottle and cigarette) who then puts it into a clip board. 'Y' can go in now', he says pointing to the entrance.
'Thank you', I say.
'Y' welcome', he replies.

As I walk away I hear someone from the other systems shout out: 'Can anyone let me use their mobile for 50p? And where's Biff number? 'Mr. Letterman' don't go. Don't go'.