The Port Eliot Festival this year is brilliant - brilliant!
But I've worked out by now that most of the time I spend at festivals, especially if I'm in any way participating, is refracted through a muddy lens of mild to medium exhaustion. I don't sleep. Not for long enough, anyway. I'm camping and I'm woken, about every half an hour, by the cold, the hard ground, the snores, the 'other' noises and, eventually, by the dawn chorus and then the light. I am not getting any REM.
After three days I think I'm getting used to it. But that's all part of the illusion. Hyped by alternate servings of coffee (mornings) and alcohol (evenings) I feel fine until get to the middle of each day when neither chemical is functioning in my system and I have to lie down on the ground for a while and pretend to die.
This story begins on Monday morning. This morning, though it feels like another time zone. It begins first thing this morning. As in 12.07am. I'm sitting in a taxi outside the festival, headed for a non-camping night of luxury at the Liskeard Premier Inn, waiting for My American friend (M.A.F.). S/he (I won't even reveal the gender of the other half of this sorry tale) is already seven minutes late. That doesn't sound much but, festival-tired, I've already been waiting since twenty-five-to,
I am not in a good mood.In fact I am getting madder and madder. In both the British and the American senses of the word.
When some people get mad they get loud and shouty. I get quieter, more precise and more polite. If I were in a movie I'd be the really nasty villain who talks in a whisper and probably experiments on animals in his spare time.
MAF gets in. Sorry I'm late.
Oh that's ok, I reply.
Your last night at the festival? Where are you off to tomorrow? asks the fellow festival performer sharing our cab.
Ah. I know Oxford. Oh yes. "And is there honey still for tea?" Betjeman, you know...
I wait for a moment deciding whether to say it.
That's Rupert Brooke.
And he was talking about Cambridge.
I think this is the moment things start take a turn for the worse.
More tomorrow. Right now I have to go and lie down.
In the meantime, here's a pic I did for a 'design your own cover for a blank-jacketed Penguin classic' event at the festival on Sunday (was that really yesterday?).
I wanted to give this copy away on Badaude but I'm going to send it over to Saint Germans to go into the archive along with designs by Ged Wells and Simon Prosser. Instead, have a look at my Shakespeare & Company giveaway - still open til the end of the month.