Tuesday, 3 September 2013

"So basically, park up and ask no questions"- Working Reading Festival 2013

The endless summer period is often quite difficult for the common student. Most of us will have secured a house for our second prospectus year of university, which means paying summer rent. As I myself currently reside in Reading, rent does not come cheap. At nearly £400 a month excluding bills, finding work is so crucial in order to be able to pay the rent by the end of the month. The hours at Topshop were reasonable but no-where near enough to cover nearly 4 months of rent; at the rate I was going I'd have maxed out my overdraft come mid-July. I had a limited amount of options and, I'll be frank, I was scared. We all worry about money at the end of the day but I don't think anyone prepares themselves physically or mentally for actually being in the situation. But, by chance, I was granted a miracle. A friend had recently got herself temporary employment working festivals, more specifically Glastonbury. The hours were fantastic, the pay was more than reasonable and the actual job description sounded more simple then anything I had ever done before.

The firm was a Coventry based company that dealt with specific cash and traffic management, guaranteed free entry to any festival and the opportunity to meet new people whilst gaining new, vital skills that could very much benefit me in the future. The application process was simple enough, you complete an online form, send a passport style picture, make sure you haven't got a criminal record yadda yadda yadda. You then proceed to a list of events you tick if you wish to work them, the first one I immediately ticked was Reading Festival. Considering I have a house in Reading, this meant two things. 1) I could simply walk to and from work with ease but more importantly 2) I WOULDN'T HAVE TO CAMP. Don't get me wrong, I have no problems with camping but I'm sure if you had the choice, wouldn't you rather sleep in a nice double bed entwined with a lovely double duvet rather than a Tesco's own sleeping bag and a pop up tent? Now, to confirm shifts, you have to ring up the CTM office, which sounds simple enough right? Wrong. It took the best part of 45 minutes to try and get through, exhausting all 3 phones we had in the house and I just felt like giving up. But as luck would have it, I succeeded in getting through and booked 5 shifts (5pm-2am shifts but hey, I'm not complaining). 

Now, on arrival I noticed two things that had been, shall we say, misinformed in the confirmation email. Our destination was the white camp site, which happened to fall on the other end of the festival site in the (apparent) middle of no-where. However; a nice chirpy confirmation email told its recipients that the site would be a 10 minute walk from the main entrance of the festival. They lied. Well actually, you could do it in 10 minutes if you were running past the speed of Mo Farah. Naturally, I rock up to the staff campsite to sign in dripping in sweat from head to toe, looking slightly worse for wear. But looking at the positive side of things, it was time to begin my shifts. I'll not lie to you dear readers, but it was the easiest money I ever made. 9 hours of simply standing and pointing. Yes, that's literally all I did for 5 days. AND I was getting paid for it! Oh just someone console me and my happiness I thought cheerily.

Due to the long, gruelling hours of said shifts, not only did I not get much time in the actual festival itself but I wasn't getting home until the very very late hours of the morning. I was partially indifferent about the festival in terms of the line-up anyway, £200 for a weekend ticket for a mediocre line-up at best was not something that directly appealed to me. I did, however manage to catch a few sets, one being Green Day whom everything was heard, every note, every lyric and of course every 'effin profanity. Somehow I think this may have caused a few incy wincy complaints as when it came to Eminem's set the next day, virtually everything was muted. Luckily I heard the first few notes of 'Love The Way You Lie' which put my mind at ease, at least they hadn't completely silenced his set for the locals. (I'll ignore the apparent 'miming' controversy for now as I wasn't actually there to judge his on-stage performance, but if if was true then I am very disappointed. You used to be cool man.) Being on your own in the middle of the countryside in complete darkness became very unnerving at times, so it was a relief to hear some of the music as it felt like I wasn't completely abandoned. Music is one of the rare things that somehow makes me feel so content and relaxed y'see so you can say it was almost the light in the dark (ignore the horribly placed cliché). 

I did manage to catch Biffy Clyro's closing set on the Sunday, an act whom I had not a lot of faith as I personally felt they were not strong enough to headline such an iconic rock festival. After watching a mere few minutes of their epic nearly 3 hour set, I knew I would have to eat my words. They commanded the stage with such a whirlwind force, demanded the attention of every audience member and they, quite simply, put on one hell of a show. As I trailed back through the site on my last walk home, I looked around to view my fellow festival-goers. Their faces displayed many qualities, hunger, exhaustion, desperation but one thing every single person shared and displayed was that of enjoyment. These people were tired, smelly and lord knows how much alcohol they had in their system, but they could not stop smiling. These were people who took a chance, walked bare foot in the mud, pushed to the front even if it meant crushing a few ribs and who let everything go. Every worry, every anxiety had vanished for these three days, because here at Reading Festival, you were here to be wild, get drunk and have fun. They had been pushed to their limits, as I also had felt, but every single second had been worth it. That's why, as I laid my head down on my bed that night, I fell asleep with a smile.The celebration of rock music for another year had been a success. Also because I could sleep for more than 8 hours without having to worry about getting up for work, RESULT.