an idiot in london


Sunday, 20th August.
Here's to old punks

After a shockin' night's sleep, the fools that "run" the hotel managed to forget to give me a wake-up call. The only breakfast on offer was the full English breakfast, which I couldn't possibly stomach, so I ended up dining on toast.

Big Mark and Rocco were going to sleep the night in Big Mark's car, but when I got there the car was empty. I rang Big Mark on his mobile, waking him up. He had crashed at Mark's place, and he said that Rocco was there somewhere. A few minutes they emerged, looking bloody ordinary.

The drive south was simple until Rocco attempted to navigate us back to Westminster. Don't ask me how he managed this, but he directed us back onto the motorway, heading north! I couldn't believe what was happening. We turned around at a services stop, and successfully exited the motorway. Second time lucky, eh? Then we got completely lost. I don't remember all the suburbs we went through, but I was sure that we were heading in the wrong direction most of the time. We ended up in Shaftesbury Avenue, and I said that they could drop me at the end of the street and I'd get on the tube at Picadilly Circus. The driver and navigator didn't know that we were in Shaftesbury Ave, let alone near Picadilly Circus! No-one is allowed to complain about my navigating ever again!

I rushed home, had a shower, got changed, repacked my bag and headed off for Liverpool Street Station. For I was travelling to Chelmsford, Essex, by train.

Now why on earth would a nice boy like me want to go to Chelmsford? Chelmsford was the venue for the V2000 music festival. Charmari was there with a friend and I was going to meet up with them.

I rang Charmari when I arrived at the venue. I could only just hear her over the din of the band coming onto the main stage. I went to the spot where I thought she said she was, but couldn't see her. I rang her again, and she said something about a fat man wearing an orange shirt. I searched around, and after a few minutes found this gigantic bloke wearing a bright orange t-shirt and bright orange cap. But Charmari was nowhere to be found. So I gave up and wandered off to see what else I could find.

There were loads of food stalls, dirnks stalls, and shitty merchandising. Masses of people were queueing up for Budweiser beer. As the old joke goes, "You know what they say about American's like making love in a canoe!"

I was ambling along when I saw Charmari, with her friend who was wearing a bright orange shirt. "No no no! I didn't say a fat man with an orange shirt, I said the person I'm with is wearing an orange shirt!" Whatever!

We cruised around a bit, then wandered over to the main stage where The Brand New Heavies were cranking it up. We sat with a bunch of water pistol toting South Africans who provided free entertainment for everyone within a 10m radius. After that we all went our separate ways to watch bands on different stages.

First I saw the Dandy Warhols played a laid-back set. A tad too laid back for the crowd. After the Dandies was Feeder, a band whose songs I knew but the titles of which were instantly forgettable. But they rocked, which is important.

Then the highlight of the weekend: Joe Strummer and the Mascaleros! The crowd consisted of me and a truckload of old punks who knew the words to every single song. Magic. All these old punks in the moshpit throttling each other - it doesn't get better than that! He played heaps of Clash stuff, and rocked harder than anyone else.

After Joe Strummer nothing could really measure up, least of all Paul Weller. He didn't play any Style Council tunes. Controversy surrounded his exit from the stage. The stage manager kicked him off just as Noel Gallagher made a cameo appearance. Maybe we could've done without the extended drum solo.

Finally, I worked my way down to the front for Richard Ashcroft's set. For the previous acts everyone down the front was getting drenched and pelted with water, beer and missiles thrown from further back in the crowd. But by the time Richard Ashcroft came on stage the monkeys had run out of ammunition, and all I had to contend with was a tall guy who stood in front of me and a drunk guy whose arms and legs flailed around in a most disconcerting manner.

Ashcroft played all the Verve songs you'd expect, and some of his new material. Crowd went off.

"Not bad for a skinny lad from Wigan!"