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personal - v festival 2011 - day two

I woke up incredibly early to drive back to the Festival. All manner of things went round my head. Would I have to pay again to get in? Would my tent, left alone all night, be there with the contents intact.

picture of my V festival ticket

The drive took me 35 minutes! What a shocker. I was expecting the worst and was pleasantly surprised. It seems most of the traffic generated on the Friday was due to people with an intention to camp.

I actually found it difficult to find the entry point into the festival carpark. Having driven past the entrance on two or three occasions, I managed to spot it and was directed to the East carpark 3, which seemed miles away from the camp where my tent was located.

I made my way directly to the Gold Camp to check on my tent, with additional gear in hand. I was pleased to find that it was intact, with only a few guide ropes dislodged. I attached a couple of mini bike lights to the tent and switched them on. This was my guarantee of finding the tent in the forest of tents. I sent a text to my nephew and niece in the vain hope that they might respond. Fat chance!

It was 9:30 in the morning. I knew that none of the main events would be starting until 1pm. However I also knew that the entrance to the arena would be open. I made my way through the gold and red camps to the arena entrance, following the signposts. I have to say that most people were wearing wellingtons from what I could see, in preparation for bad weather. However the sun was shining and I took a chance and wore some light canvas shoes. These were actually not that suitable for the trail through the camps, which consisted in part of what I can only describe as large uneven pebbles. I twisted my ankles a number of times.

I can confirm that the portoloos were being used. The aroma from the blue and green tardis like boxes was somewhat overwhelming. The queues for the toilets were amazing. I decided that I would wait until I got into the arena before venturing into one of these cubby holes to do my number 1's.

The area outside the arena was awash with people just entering the festival park with their suitcases and their day tickets clasped in hand. It was interesting to see the array of people. Young, not so young. Some dressed formally and others dressed in fancy dress. I counted at least ten mole costumes and one man dressed as a squirrel. It was amazing to see the number of people clasping cans of Carling, even at this time in the morning. The area outside the arena was full of food kiosks, and stores selling every type of camping equipment you could think of. I have to admit that they were reasonably priced too. Next time I come I will just buy my items from one of these stores and save the lugging of gear from the car.

I decided to make my way into the arena and wandered past one security officer. I was stopped by another who prevented me from taking my drink into the arena itself and who searched the bag I was holding. It seemed that the same restrictions as that on airplanes applied. I relinquished a bottle of squash somewhat reluctantly and walked into the arena. Ironically he didn't check my backpack - not that I was carrying anything dangerous. Maybe I just had an honest face!

Now how can I describe the arena? A cross between Butlins holiday camp and Blackpool with a host of stalls and rides. I watched as people climbed into a reverse bungee ride and others screamed on the ferris wheel. I walked about and took a long hard look at the Virgin media stage and the Arena stage, getting my bearings.

I had a DSLR camera in hand as I walked about taking photographs of absolutely everything. I must have appeared official. I received a number of requests from others to take their picture. I ended up taking the pictures of a number of groups of people and agreeing to email them their information. If anyone knows who the heck these people are please let me know. [group 1]-[group 2]-[group 3]

There is only so much walking about a person can do so I decided to plant my on the grass rear near the Virgin media stage, determined to get a place near the front of the stage. I sat and waited... and waited.. and waited. Metal barriers separated those waiting with me from the stage. We could all see the preparations in front of us but we were not permitted to go beyond the barrier. We watched in envy as various people were let through the barrier by security staff.

It was not until 11:30 that the barriers began to be removed and were replaced with a rope, stretched by the increasing number of security staff along the perimeter of the arena. Suddenly people burst past the rope, running for the front of the stage. One of the members of the security staff shouted to his colleagues to hold the rope up and to stop people going through. But it was too late. People were rushing for the stage. I threw my bag behind my shoulder and made a rush for the stage, ignoring the security guards' half hearted attempts to tell us all to slow down and not run. It was now a race. I rushed past one woman who was fleet footed enough to catch up and pass me. I could see the front of the stage in front of me, but the area next to the barrier was getting filled. I made a split minute decision to veer to the left, but this was a mistake. The area I was heading for was filled by sweaty panting bodies. Damn them and their youthful legs getting in front of me! By the time I got to the front, there was a complete row in front of me. I cursed inwardly, but at least I was in the second row and could see the stage. I got my Iphone out and sent a text to my nephew and niece to confirm my position. And then I waited with others for the acts to begin.


The first act was Imelda May at 12:15. I have to admit that although I had vaguely heard of her I didn't really know who she was. Her rock-a-billy music was foot tapping. A family of three - I assume mother father and son - lit up a cigarette in front of me and discussed how many cigarettes they would be sharing during the evening. As smoke wafted into my face, I began to regret my standing position. In true British style I said nothing, and cast a few annoying glances in their direction - mainly when they weren't looking. I'm no fool. The last thing you want to do in a mosh put is to provoke a family of three with lit cigarettes in their hands! Anyway, Imelda May continued to sing her tunes. She was very entertaining I have to say. It was not my kind of music but she certainly did the arena proud. She even sang a song I knew amazingly. She finished her set to rapturous applause, and we watched as the backroom buys hurriedly cleared the stage for the next act.

The next act was Squeeze. Now this is a group from my era. I did hear a couple of wet behind the ears types behind me mutter: "who the F*** are squeeze" which made me titter a little. Squeeze did a few renditions of songs the tunes of which I knew but with words that escaped me. I felt, as a resident oldie, it was important to support them and did a lot a whooping and cheering as they played. I confess that I didn't recognise any of the group though and tended to fixate on the keyboard player who looked - whether intentionally or not - like Jools Holland. A lot of the crowd seemed content to play with a large ball that was hurled upwards. The lead singer finished with the words: "thank you V. You've been very kind". I must admit I felt a little embarrassed for them when he said that.

At this point my feet were beginning to hurt. I was conscious of the pain in the balls of my feet and tried shifting my weight to gain some relief. It worked at first but then the periods of relief became less and less. I began to wonder if I could stand up much longer. There were a family of smokers in front of me who lit up cigarettes and discussed how many they had left and how they would share them between them. They seemed to be hardened festival goers although they could have just been giving it large as they say. They were fun loving, loud - in a fun way - and enjoyed the music. The younger of the trio - who I believe was the son - complained about his feet hurting and for some reason that made me feel better too. What is it they say about misery loving company? If only they didn't smoke!!

At 2:20 Ellie Goulding came on stage to rapturous applause. She was brilliant and amazingly I knew a few of her songs. I was so glad I'd listened to Radio 1 over the last 6 months. Haha! Her 'starry eyes' song went down a treat! However the pain in my feet detracted from the music. I was beyond discomfort now and was in severe pain!

3:30 saw the emergence of scouting for girls on stage. This was another group I knew. I sang along to the chorus of a few of the songs. I was conscious that the security guards facing us were scrutinizing us and I didn't want to embarrass myself by appearing to mouth the wrong words to the songs. So my singing was curtailed somewhat during each verse and increased for phrases such as .."skip a heartbeat.." Haha. It's amazing how adept I was becoming at blagging my way through songs.

I looked down at my list of upcoming acts and knew there was no way I would be able to stand up anymore. So I made my way through the crowds to the back. You would have thought that I was committing a crime or something as I pushed through the middle of the mosh pit to get out. Someone muttered "why don't you go out the side". I responded: "People think I'm pushing in if I do that, but only an idiot would think I am pushing in going backwards." I held my handbag, and camera aloft and continued to push out, breathing a sigh of relieve when I finally emerged from the crowd. Then I thought: "what now..?" followed by: "crap I was right at the front of the queue for Eminem and Rhianna too!"

I wandered about slowly, hobbling mainly, and became conscious of my increasing hunger. Luckily there was a chippie close by so I bought a tray and wandered past discarded cans, bottles, waste food and vomit. Ummm nice. I don't know what drove me towards the Glee Club comedy tent but it was a blessing. I found myself in a tent where sitting was possible. Comedians were entertaining the crowd. I was there in time for Steve Shanyaski who was very good. I listened to Matt Reed who was also funny. A guy called Jimmy Bird came on and I have to admit that he was not very good. I little too cerebral for this crowd. His humor was too clever I think. The main act was Stephen K Amos. Now I knew I'd heard the name but until I saw him I didn't realise who he was. There was great applause as he came on stage and I realised that I'd seen him a number of times on TV. He did a fantastic act - although I had heard some of the material before. However the funniest part is when at the end of his act everyone began to shout out ALAN. Now that's a festival in-joke but I'm not sure he got it. So his act didn't end as intended as much of the crowd shouted: ALAN again and again. However, we did give him a standing ovation. His act was followed by an interval and I gingerly got to my feet and made my way back to the back of the Virgin Media Stage to see the Script play.

I can't say I really concentrated that much on the Script. They were by all accounts good. People at the back of the stage were bopping and grooving on the grassed area and seemed to be no worse off for not being close to the stage. I watched with detached interest. I could hear competing music coming from another tent and wandered to the sound. Admittedly it as the prospect of being able to sit down that attracted me more than the music. I continued to follow the sound to the Arena Stage tent where Big Audio Dynamite were playing. The tent was undercover, the music load and it afforded me a great opportunity to take some fantastic pictures. I can't say that I knew the tunes being belted out any more than I knew many of the others played elsewhere. But the playing was brilliant. I even managed a tap of my now tired feet and a wiggle of my body in a style that resembled something between a 1970's dance and an irish jig. At this point I did contemplate going back to my tent. I was totally knackered to be honest. I wandered out of the Arena Stage Tent and back to the rear of the Virgin Media Tent. Rhianna was on stage. I stood and listened to her music, which was great, and watched on the big screen as she strutted her stuff in her Posh Spice like union jack clothing. I made my way back to my tent with the words 'brella ella ella ella' ringing in my ears.

The walk back to my tent was painful. My feet felt every stone and every rough patch of ground. Even the smallest pebble felt like a boulder. I managed to find my tent thanks to the flashing lights I had placed on them earlier that day. I undressed slowly in the freezing air within the tent, putting on my thermal hat and sweatshirt. I pulled on some socks and I slipped into my sleeping bag, scrunching into a ball as much as I could, desperately trying to retain body heat. This was the first time I had even slept in a tent overnight and nothing could have prepared me for the uncomfortable night ahead. I put some earplugs in the block out the sound of revellers around me and that was only partially successful. And I spent the next 7 hours in and out of sleep.

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