In the wake of the recent news of lockdown restrictions (supposedly) lifting by summer, Angus Rolland gives us a fond look back at the festival experience – well, what he can recall of it, anyway…
Declining an offer of free entry to a live improvisation, featuring a temp paisley retinue at the Chameleon Arts Cafe (quite the steal I hear), I opted instead to purchase a ticket of entry for the festival in question. My relative proximity (visiting, not living) towards Salford, the titular ‘Other City’, proved decisive in my (momentary) deliberation. The day fit the ideal of being outdoors, with the queues plentiful and the logistics respectable. In venues all over, a spectrum of performers obscure and not did the predictable thing.
Yet… oddly enough, what provoked my memory of this receding event was not a stagger-some performance (of which there were a quantity) or a o’Man’o’Pint being unceremoniously escorted from the premises, owing to preceding (bacchanalian) behavioural patterns… It was a picture I took of that day (see above), which just so happened to be in the month of just 3 letters. Upon tripping (clicking*) on it within my documents folder, I couldn’t help but think allegorically; the apex-ed few, the ‘captain’s at the helm’ of this much-disdained cylinder represented, to me at least, a societal commandeering. These tins-on-deck (barring the Lucozade) could be applied to any edifice of authority, be it government or sleazy record executive, for all below, in spite of their numerical superiority, looked but trash-designate in comparison. The denizens inside, the ‘fellow travellers’, could perhaps be afforded certain benefits and stabilities… though remember, subordinate to the arbitrary whim of the upper caste, they remain. As for the urchins beneath, the ‘peons’, seemingly they appear disallowed to reside within. Languishing at the gates, they are compelled to congregate further and further away from the placidity of roof and wall, and into the peripheral of uncertainty… for all lodgings were taken.
The rubbishing of hierarchical structures aside, I now move to anecdote the security apparatus; staffed largely by student volunteers unintimidating in disposition, with a smaller cadre of bouncers guarding such sites of importance as the performer’s cafeteria, and the odd *staff only* door, varying in paintwork and wooden sourcing. Passing through the various ‘checkpoints’ clustered about; the standard protocol of bag searching was in place. The implication of this was that attempting to smuggle alcohol, external in origin, into this parameter of fanfare was predictably… verboten. I offset this by (superficially) covering the contraband with clothing and/or leaflets relevant to the ongoing day. Usually it worked, for the auxiliaries lacked both the incentive and vocational doctrine to perceive my economic subversion. Yet, for the stoic guardsman I had to do something a little different… for this event was but one of many in their distinguished service record. I didn’t wear a particularly baggy jumper that day, so the obvious scheme of stuffing all the tins into the back of it was out of the question. Recalling the concept of dead-drops, I hid the majority of them in a hedge, while keeping one at hand, albeit concealed. Passing through these checkpoints with frequency (you know how it is with the timetable) eventually lulled them into a false sense of security, with the general assumption being that since it was empty before, it must be empty now… I traversed unopposed!
Darkness brought about a new dimension to the whole scenario, as did my fatigue from 4 days of consumption, with the orange lighting emitting from an adjacent takeaway giving me moderate cause to dislike the notion of artificial illumination. In cooperation with my bandana, I tied an inflatable bird to my head, as though I myself had been commandeered. Whether or not it remained on my head with regard to longevity mattered not; it was this act of individuality, this… executive decision… the most arbitrary of whims even, that I placed this item, almost salmon in colouring, on one’s (very own) noggin. I dare not fathom what could have been, had I been the one at the wheel of society’s course, or conversely a tenant in that infernal peripheral. Sometime later (maybe a year?), bandana and faux-Flamingo long since departed, I heard that the organisers of the aforementioned spectacle had curtailed its size? So, the event in question, one that had ended nearly 3 years ago… laden with capital-dispensing consumers (people, not cans*) and capital-inducing performers… had passed by its zenith (Sunday, 36th of April, 2018 AD) and would be right-sizing itself, much like the book-cooking theme park administrators of old, from now… on? Well, what went wrong?
Angus: I have no idea, but I suspect it’s monetary in reasoning.