Sunday, September 11, 2005

Wonderful Tonight

Wonderful Tonight

After four days admin work, two evening shifts at the WYP and an impromptu trip up to Middlesbrough for a Northern Exposure workshop I'd planned to have a quiet weekend. Sort out the growing mess that has accumulated by my not doing anything when I've had five minutes at home this week, maybe work on a couple of applications and catch up with Lost.

At least I thought this until just after 11:00 yesterday morning. Suddenly, unexpectedly, Griffin was bashing out a few songs at his village's summer dance. I didn't have to think twice about it. I was going.

What I did have to think about though was what I was going to wear. Not because of the Griffin aspect (if that were the key requirement then I'd permenantly be wearing my black 'Derby top') but because I'm generally obsessed with clothing at the moment. I'm blaming having let Vogue back into my life. And if something can shake fear into the wardrobe of a confirmed city girl it's a summer dance that has been tacked on to the village show. My one experience of a village show involved more mud than I have ever seen in my life. And mud is not compatible with any of my myriad of outfits. I suspect that even my pink wellies aren't made for mud walking. But the marquee dance description of this event threw up the possibility of something beyond mud - you can't dance in your wellies afterall, even if they are pink ones. After all of several minutes thought I decided that if I were to look to a fashion guru at this point it would be Kate Moss. Whilst I don't think she's ever had to negotiate the delicate balance of clothing required for the Castleton Summer Dance, I think we can all agree that she knows one or two things about festival dressing.

One black shirt dress (circa topshop 2000), a brown belt, some dark jeans and a pair of cowboy boots later I was ready. Or at least almost ready, because boho festival chic really needed an early September 2005 twist. So on went the silver bangles and, finally, a black headband. I don't think I'd worn a headband since I was about 12, indeed I'd forgotten how they make the hair at the base of your head stick up, but boy was the black headband a catwalk trend and, really, boho festival chic was the only way I was going to get to try out this trend.

When Cat, Shona, Val and myself arrived in Castleton some time after six the most pressing question was no longer footwear but what the technical difference is between a tent and a marquee. In my experience you see marquees at Oxford garden parties or peoples' weddings. They're often white/cream coloured with doors and - crucially - flooring. If you can see grass then what you've got is a glorified tent. The debate continued to rage as we went for drinks in the Downe, as we fell about laughing over the grass verge carpark and even as we negotiated our way through the field to purchase tickets.

Given our relatively early arrival - and discovery that grass was very clearly visible within the tent - meant that the party hadn't really started we got the man selling tickets to direct us out of the field ("we don't have to climb do we?") and spent the next hour or so drinking in the Eskdale. Shona, Val and I also had a bit of an impromptu Harry Potter conversation which left Cat and Gayle not so subtly shifting towards the table next to us.

Fed, watered and, at least in my case, slightly giddy (blame the very large Baileys in the Downe) we rolled back to the tent to discover that the band were playing, Griffin was drinking by the makeshift bar and, most importantly, if we were to sit the only place we could do so was on one of the bales of straw*. I've never sat on a bale, hay, straw or otherwise, so this amused me somewhat, something that was a good thing given the not-at-all-amusing makeshift bar prices.

After the first set from the Colin Holt band and an interlude of music on the CD player which included my all time favourite REM song, Nightswimming, it was Griffin's turn to sing. I'd already noticed how tiny he seemed, something which couldn't be disguised by the bulky jumper and hoodie (washed slightly out of shape) which he had on. Good jeans though. But, as has happened so often in the most unusual of places, his voice was again simply beautiful. He can almost effortlessly break your heart. And in the tent, with the distant rumble of chatter and the comedy-value bales, there was a little bit of magic.

Once Griffin finished his trio of songs it was time to get up and dance (something i'd been not-so-secretly itching to do all night). After some rather impressive booty shaking from all concerned Griffin was brought back on stage and proceeded to sing 'Brown Eyed Girl' and (Is this the way to) Amarillo? And it was all rather wonderful as he messed up the words, and some drunk women danced around us, because it wasn't complicated or open to analysis. It simply was what it was.

Then the band wanted us to dance again, as we belted out 'American Pie' and I discovered during a rather over-enthusiastic 'jude, jude, judey...' that headbands don't really stay in place when you're rocking. Slightly out of breathe as the band neared the end of their set I went to talk to Griffin, mainly to get some tips on my guitar playing and my chord changing problems (get a copy of an Oasis/ REM [Oasis is easier but I prefer REM] songbook, don't worry too much between chords, sing along and don't look at your fingers. I'll apologise to Oasis and REM in advance). Maybe because of the beer, maybe because of his second place in the Lemon Curd category at the show, Griffin was wonderfully relaxed, witty and slightly cheeky. And, inexplicably, I ended up agreeing that he could be the lead in my play:

Me: Which one?

Griffin: The one that's about me.

I'm also laying the blame firmly at Griffin's door that I want to take something up to the Edinburgh Festival next year - despite the fact that I know from friends' experiences that this is the quickest way to lose money ever. Rather endearingly, given the lack of concrete information around him at the moment, as his sister rather pointedly told him that he had to leave, he left us with "Watch this space. No that would be pointless" [cue blank faces] "Because there's nothing here" [cue weak laughter]. It might have been a joke but I think it acknowledged something important, on both sides of the equation.

Maybe because of the speed, maybe because of the nature of the event and the fact that all of the people there as 'fans' had been impeccably behaved leaving Griffin to enjoy his evening, maybe because - selfishly - of the small number of people there, I enjoyed the night more than I've enjoye Griffin gigs for a long time. I've never stopped enjoying the music, laughing at Griffin's jokes or even having a good time. But it's a long time since I've felt like I did last night. Everything felt special. And I knew, in that instant. I'd do it all again.

*See, I did take note, Val.

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