24 June 2009

Lizard Festival Part 2

I'm... I'm Waitng For My Van

I've never believed in (or had any reason to) this supersticious mumbo jumbo about the number 13, or Friday the 13th in particular being unlucky, and as I woke that morning from an exhausted slumber I had no reason to believe that things would be any different, nor did I have any awareness of it being Friday the 13th. However, on hearing Cagey's not so dulcit tones, declaring mid phlegm "We seem to have misplaced the till", the cold fingers of ice started to gently squeeze my heart... Yes, Cabbaged Cafe once more had lived up to it's rather apt nom de plume. The till had been stolen. Unfortunately full of £1 coins. Probably because it had been left in an unlocked van, under the care of someone we barely knew...

Actually Cabbaged Cafe lived up to it's name from it's first inception on a scrappy bit of paper, through it's very short gestation period, during it's long and fraught birth and continued to do so as it took it's faltering first steps through it's short, but rewarding life until it's sudden (but temporary) death. Maybe if we'd called it something else, like the Sorted Cafe, it would have lived up to it's name in a more positive way, but Cabbaged being the name, cabbaged was what we got.

From waiting around in the rain (pissing), with the rig getting soaked on a trailer and no ground sheet in our 10 man bell tent, with the amps, decks and mixer literally floating around inside on a bit of plastic we'd procured; to all our 'little' spats with the (dis)organisers who kept threatening to throw us off the site for various accused misdemeanours; to when the cafe finally turned up a week later, the birth was a long, tiring and weary one.

Having secured our site next to the Nutters, which we grimly hung on to through the most atrocious weather you could imagine, we were eventually forced to move, once more under the threat of eviction. Then we heard that the van had been broken into before it had even left London and the steering lock broken. All little signs perhaps, warning us against our foolhardy decision to go legitimate.

By the time the van finally turned up we were bored rigid after sitting in a rain lashed field for 4 days. We'd pissed the organisers off mightily, who rather suspected that we weren't a cafe at all, but a sound system trying to skank on site. Not having anything with us to prove our credentials, and being caught leaving site and coming back with an Indian take away, which we had to eat with our fingers as we had no plates or cutlery didn't really help matters. By the time the van finally turned up, Friday morning, everyone was so bored that it was all hands on deck and the marquee got erected in double quick time, the equipment was unloaded and set up, everyone just grateful to fianlly have something to do. I started to feel those old icy fingers again when I looked through the kitchen stuff and couldn't see any pots and pans bigger than a pot noodle nor any of the items one would have thought essential for the smooth operation of a cafe type scenario. You know, little things like something to cook on and chairs for people to sit on. Apparently the pots and oven were to arrive the next day with Wal, but the chairs couldn't be squeezed in to any of the vehicles, so horror of horrors, had been 'left behind'. Imagine a cafe with no chairs. How would we sell food when no one had anywhere to sit?

Anyway, not letting such major matters put us off, we set up in the still raining rain, in a quite remarkably speedy time, and the first cups of tea started coming from the kitchen. Well, at least we had an urn. Maybe a pot noodle stall would have been a better option. We had no gas bottles, but there was gas supplies on site. However we had no adapters for the gas bottles, and no piping either. Luckily we had met Wim Nutter when we'd spent a rain sodden few days clinging precariously to the rain lashed land, and he was a bona fide gas engineer, so he set up the one piece of cooking equipment we had wihtout blowing us all up. We were in business.

We managed to make a couple of chairs out of upended containers and arranged them hopefully amongst the 630 tables we had. We chalked our specials up on the one blackboard we had, which had in tiny 4 inch high letters, Cabbaged cafe proudly (?) painted across the top, the only place our name could be seen. Our coca cola fridge arrived, which we immediatley filled with lettuce and orgainic veg and 3 cans of diet coke, followed in hot pursuit by "the organisers" threatening to throw us off site for "stealing" the above mentioned fridge which we'd actually been told to take. Not for the first time that week we had again heard the refrain, "If you were at Glastonbury, you'd have been thrown off. This sort of behaviour is unforgiveable". Luckily however, as we later found out, we were the only cafe who had actually paid for their pitch, so this gave us some leverage, which we exploited as the week progressed.

With the rig up and running, everything was starting to take shape, people were wandering in, cups of tea were being produced almost professionally, and so began another swift learning curve.