Time on

We celebrated the trophy in style at Kendal Calling.

Tom tried break-dancing to House of Pain, flinging himself around on the grass.

Afterwards, I walked him back to our tent as a sea of people walked towards us on their way to the music.

“If you think about it, a festival is like a little town,” Tom said, “all the tents are the people’s houses and they can go and have some tea or do some shopping or have a dance.”

“That’s basically it,” I said.

After the last portaloo wee, I wrapped him up in a t-shirt, a hoody, two sleeping bags and a duvet on top.

“I feel like one of those toys. You know, the little ladies with rosy cheeks where there’s one inside another one then another one inside that one and another one and another one and-”

“A Russian doll?”

“Yeah, a Russian doll.”

Then he fell asleep, leaving me to sit on an Ikea bag in front of our tent, listening to the festival sounds. There’s the constant rumble of generators and distant bass, the crash of sprung doors as people play portaloo roulette, the beep beep of a vehicle that’s reversing, the tshhhh of laughing gas rushing into balloons, the lyrical sound of other people’s tent zips, the eerie whirr of wind-up torches, the call of idiots shouting out the name Alan and the clatter of feet along metal walkways. I didn’t mind too much sitting there listening to all that instead of the live music.

The next morning, Tom woke with hayfever. I didn’t really know he had it, but he was coughing and streaming and red around his eyes.

“Do you want to go home?”

“No way,” he said.

So I gave him an antihistamine that knocked him out, meaning I got an unexpected massage while he snoozed on some hippy cushions in the corner of a tent. He came back to life in the evening, dancing round the field like he owned it. Even though it was Saturday night, I wasn’t bothered about going back to the tent when he was all danced out – I was getting more sleep than I ever do at home.

On the last day, Tom had his face painted like a lion and I made him some ears and a tail and he paraded round the festival with a load of other kids. Then he fell asleep on some blankets in front of Blondie before his uncle and a lovely man who we’d only met at the festival took turns to carry him home.

It rained for the first time all weekend on Sunday night and when we woke up on Monday, it was misty and dull. Everyone was quiet as we packed up our stuff and tried not to think about real life. Tom tried to help me lift a heavy bag and toppled over in the wet grass.

“Do we have to go home?”

“Unfortunately yes,” I was stuffing the last few bits of clothes out of the tent down the sides of my rucksack.

“Yesss!” he said, beaming, “I get to see my trophy!”

The next festival we’re off to will not require me to walk away from the party just as it starts. Just So Festival will be all about Tom. This is a festival where kids are in charge. I just hope parkour doesn’t clash with Punch and Judy.

The opposite direction to everybody else.

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