Festivals and Weather

(May 02, 2015)

No matter how old I get nor how long I live in this country, the English never cease to amaze me. And the aspect that amazes me the most is our collective preoccupation with the weather. Half an inch of snow can grind the country to a halt, a dozen dry months and there’s a drought and a hosepipe ban, prolonged rain floods half the country … whatever it might be, not only do the English talk incessantly about the weather, they’re hardly ever satisfied with what they get. And somewhere this dissatisfaction is most clearly evident is at open-air festivals.

The rain appears to be the festival’s greatest enemy, although the cold also comes into play. The spring months in England’s ‘green and pleasant’ should herald a rise in temperature and some sunny, dry weather. Be that as it may, the country has been flooded out in May and frozen during the same month. Hardy festival goers huddle beneath blankets and shelter from torrential rain, equally April and May have served up heatwaves. And all the while there remains the undercurrent of moaning – ‘bloody rain’, ‘bloody cold’, ‘bloody weather’ – take your pick, wherever you go festival sites echoe to variations on those themes.

So far this year there are recollections of other ‘scorchers’ rather than floods, however, the remark ‘bloody mud’ still makes an appearance. That should not be surprising, after all it only takes a few thousand feet walking on grass after some heavy(ish) rain and mud is the result. However, this June’s key moan seems to be ‘bloody heat’ and a new one on me ‘bloody dust’. Now, it strikes me that we should greet a warm dry summer with open arms, we don’t get that many but last week there were continual complaints about the heat and the universal festival moan became ‘how are we supposed to enjoy being outside in this temperature?’

There you are, never satisfied, and yet festivals in this country still retain a magical feel - rain, mud or drought. Fantastic!

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