[03 – event]

This year I’m taking part in #reverb11, an online initiative that’s all about reflecting on 2011 and looking ahead to 2012. Each day in December will bring a new prompt to reflect on. Today’s prompt comes courtesy of Perpetual Ramblings

December 3. Event: Did you attend or host an event this past year that rocked your socks off? Please tell us about it!

It all started off as a bit of a joke.

My friend, Kerry, came round and we sat drinking coffee, like we always do, and looking at silly things on the internet. One of our favourite things to do is search words like ‘hideous’ on eBay and see what it throws up. Somehow we ended up reading a blog written by a women who’s heavily into ‘comping’ – entering competitions in frighteningly hardcore way. She’d won cruises, a new kitchen and heaps more besides; the list was seemingly endless. Cynics that we are, Kerry and I both agreed that Ms Comper was maybe a bit sad, and ought to get out more. Of course, that cynicism lasted about half an hour, and as soon as Kerry had left, I was searching for comping websites and entering competitions willy-nilly. (I later discovered that Kerry had done the same as soon as she got home.)

I wasn’t that optimistic; I seem to recall there was a cookery book I was quite keen on winning, and a weekend in Venice. I’ve never been to Italy. Then the joke backfired: to my horror, within days I’d won VIP tickets to see Ringo Starr at Hampton Court Palace. I don’t even like Ringo that much, and felt very embarrassed emailing the PR company to tell them I was sadly unable to attend due to unforeseeable circumstances. In the meantime, Kerry had won tickets to an international cricket final in Leeds. We both decided that from then on we’d only enter competitions if we actually wanted the prizes.

This must have been way back in July. A few days later I opened my inbox to find that I’d won a family ticket to Camp Bestival. I felt like kicking myself, I really did. I’d only gone and won yet another useless prize: I hate camping and the festival was taking place in Dorset, hundreds of miles away.Then I had a brief look at the line up and realised that Primal Scream were playing, and performing their classic album, Screamadelica, in its entirety. I spent the next day with a good friend who’s a festival veteran, and she persuaded me I should go, and take my son with me.

I still wasn’t entirely convinced: I was just starting to recover from a bit of a lengthy blip in my mental health, and wasn’t sure I’d be able to cope with an eight-hour train journey and then putting up the bloody tent, let alone sleeping in it with my dodgy back and yada yada yada. I found an excuse for everything.

I don’t know when it was I changed my mind. I had a burst of energy and excitement that bubbled up unexpectedly. I started to think about how thrilled my son would be to see lots of bands he loved, and how it could potentially be a lot of fun. I delved into my savings and booked us a PodPad – a little wooden house with beds and windows that was totally secure and dry – so I wouldn’t have to camp, and devoted a couple of hours to finding us the cheapest train tickets. I bought almost the entire stock of Mountain Warehouse, and a new rucksack to put it all in; seriously, if Captain Scott had taken to the Antarctic what I took to Dorset for four nights, he would have got to the South Pole and back in a jiffy, ponies and all.


We had an amazing time. My son loved it – I was scared he wouldn’t cope with a whole new routine and strange surroundings and being around disinhibited drunk people, but he rose to the challenge magnificently. We were both out of our comfort zones, and the only way to get through it was to throw ourselves into festival life and make the most of it.

Telling you all about it would be a major essay. I’m not sure I can even list my best bits, because the whole experience was one enormous best bit. We danced non-stop to Groove Armada, ate the best paella I’ve ever tasted, watched amazing poets deliver incredible words, amazing fireworks, comedy and BLONDIE! If you’d told me when I was a six year old singing ‘Denis’ in the playground that I’d get to see them play it live one day I would’ve thought you were joking. Debbie Harry is old enough to be my mum, and she was great. And they did a cover of ‘Fight for Your Right to Party’ – magnificent stuff.


My word for this year was embrace. I vowed to myself that I would seize opportunities when they materialised, and take risks if necessary; Camp Bestival involved both of those, multifold, and it was absolutely worth it. I felt so proud of us both for doing something completely different, something we would never normally do.

I read somewhere recently that you should spend your money on experiences, not things. Despite my love of shoes and shiny things, I couldn’t agree more, and I’ve already booked next year’s tickets.

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