Postcard from an addict: 24 hour party people
Ever felt that our 21st century extractive and luxurious lifestyle is kind of addictive? Have to say, I'd agree. For the perfect example of this look no further than Camp Bestival, a family festival that I went to last weekend. 20,000 people living in tents, living on … what? Food: imported. Water: imported. Everything else: imported. Single use.
It could look like a shanty town, but survival isn't the focus. This is just celebration. Hook on animal tails are 'in', designer wellies (of course), and handcarts for children - lots and lots of curtained, be-cushioned, be-flagged trollies containing princes and princesses, being pulled around by their parents.
So now we're on site (festival ticket: £185 per adult, bus ticket: £10, event programme: £10) we pitch up the tents and go to explore. And here I could go on and on about what a rip off the food was and how they charged for lots of the children's entertainment but where would that get us? Having a moan wasn't the point. It was to look at addiction of our 21st century extractive and luxurious lifestyle. All that lovely luxury. But very precarious. In order to enjoy the luxury you have to ignore the crapness of what you're doing. You're having fun, dammit! You've paid your money and in return you get the festival experience. So, when the guy at the sandwich stall puts a paper plate on top of the plastic plate I've brought along especially, and I get annoyed – how very uncool is that? I'm no longer playing along. I've broken the festival code: No doom and glooming at the party. That's the story.
Does that mean that addiction is about telling ourselves stories? I owe it to myself. I've earned this. Time for a nice... This is my reward. This is my birthright. I can't cope without... I need this.
And does that mean that I'm telling you new stories, like these? You can't have … You don't deserve … You have to give up … You don't need...
Well that's not fun.
What I did with giving up tea and coffee was to start picking and drying my own herbs and experimenting with combinations, so instead of thinking, 'It's such a shame that I'm missing out and not drinking tea' I would think, 'Now what will it be? Delicious mint and calendula or sweet lime blossom?' It took about a month to stop craving caffeinated tea and I've noticed that I drink fewer hot drinks and more water. Unfortunately I also increased the amount of chocolate I was eating, so it was like I transferred my personal rewarding onto cocoa or sugar. Now I'm looking at that. My tack is to focus on dried fruit and make that into my treat. Although it's imported, at least it's a healthier form of sugar and once I get a dehydrator I'll be able to dry more UK fruits like apples, sorbs and plums. The point is, that having a positive alternative is the best way to get people off the thing they are addicted to, whether it's diet or festivals or lifestyle. The vision of a more positive world was what got me into transition in the first place.
But back to the festival. It wasn't all in your face conspicuous consumption. The music was amazing: King Creosote and Jon Hopkins, DJ Yoda and the Transiberian Marching Band, The Fabulous Lounge Swingers and their version of “I should be so lucky”. I saw the Happy Mondays too but as the comedian quipped later on that evening, “Did you see the Happy Mondays? Weren't they fantastic? In the 80s.” One interesting thing though was the whole Bez thing and the way the energy level sky rocketed as soon as he came on the stage. He's an anarchist. A free spirit. I liked the way he got what looked like his entire extended family onto the stage at the end of the set. Don't see that kind of power sharing much.
Next summer I will be far more interested in going to the kinds of festivals mentioned by my fellow social reporters. And hopefully by then I will be freed from these obvious 21st century addictions.
Pictures: Bubbles over the Big Top, Merry-Go-Round from the lower kids field (both author's pics), Bez dancing (from the Guardian website)