This is an attempt at doing something different ... in that the bulk of this is told in flashback and alternates between His and Hers points of view. Hope it works ... but do let me know! There are a few explanatory notes at the end...
It wasn't quite brandy and cigars time, but I found myself pontificating to the Young People.
"Course, festivals weren't festivals the way you know them, those days. No fence, no security - hell, no tickets - and no camping fields..."
"No toilets, either, though," the wife interjected, "but, yeah, it was 'free', put your tent where you wanted - not near the stage generator, by preference - buy and sell drugs from whoever you wanted and, well, shit where you wanted. Bit of a public health nightmare, really, but it worked for us".
Number one daughter looked severely unimpressed. "I'd miss my hair dryer, I think. But just how did you two meet?"
My wife got a bit of a dreamy look, suggesting a serious burst of nostalgia approaching. "It must have been about 4am, I guess. The sun was coming up, anyway, and the obsessive Hawkwind fans camped next to our tents had finally shut up for a while. I was awake, anyway, lying in my mate Bella's geodesic dome, a couple of bodies in sleeping bags in there with me - well, a couple of sleeping bags, anyway, might have been more bodies - remains of the fire still just about smouldering outside, our cassette player still beside it. And beside that, a pile of roaches, some still viable. I crawled outside, found a lighter, lit one. Maybe two or three. Day two of Chanctonbury 81 was looking up - or maybe just a bit hazy - already..."
Daughter's boyfriend cut in, "OK, so you were lying in shit, getting stoned, I think we get the picture. How about you? Also in the dome?"
"Nah ... this is the story of how we met, remember?" I paused. "Actually, I hadn't been to sleep. Hadn't bought a tent, or a sleeping bag come to think of it - I'd hitched down so I was travelling light. Brought my guitar, of course - didn't go anywhere without it, those days - but, hey it was summer, so no real problem dossing in the open..."
As the conversation continued, I knew both my wife and I were remembering...
Finally, the sun was coming up, the sky just streaked with pink and lemon, a few early stragglers beginning to wander towards the Ring. I gave the fire I was sitting by a final prod, wrapped my chillum in its scarf and stood up, nodding to the guys I'd been sitting with. I doubt any of them noticed; they were all pretty far gone.
I'd always liked the dawn and the festival site looked almost bucolic at this hour; the tents and benders somehow more solid, and the buses and trucks seeming almost magical. Later on, in full daylight, it would all be revealed as a chaotic mess, the Convoy vehicles as the vaguely legal rust buckets most of them were. For now, though, the place was almost silent, just a few straggles of wood smoke rising across the fields, even the kids thankfully asleep. Not for the first time, I wondered why I bothered to come to these things. The music was usually shite - even the good bands too out of it to play and the PA often a bodged together pile of crap - and I'd never really been a sociable soul, so meeting lots of interesting new people was hardly the incentive, either. Even if you could find someone capable of having a conversation about something other than some tantric bollocks or what the best acid around was. Actually, finding anyone capable of even that level of communication could be difficult. Unlike the acid, which wasn't hard to find at all. Ah, well, I grinned to myself as I walked on, maybe that was the motivation...
Outside Bella's dome, it was a lot chillier than I'd expected. I scrabbled around for some firewood for a bit, vaguely thinking that I'd have a go at getting the fire back alight and then remembered that we'd crashed when we'd burnt the last wood we had - and it was too dark ... or too far ... or everyone was too stoned - to go and gather some more. I thought that maybe adding some clothes to the thin rayon dress I had on would be a good idea and eventually got it together to crawl back into the shelter to grab something warmer.
Yep ... definitely more bodies than sleeping bags, and bodies now seriously getting to know each other ... I think it was Bella's arse I saw gyrating in front of me, no idea who the guy being serviced underneath her was. Ah, well - still needed those clothes so I groped around a bit more in the darkness and found ... I was ... well ... groping. Which is to say, I found I had a very erect penis under my hand ... with another hand busily stroking it, as well. Oh ... yeah ... another guy - I didn't know his name - busily beating off watching B & friend. Takes all sorts, I thought, grabbed an old wool jumper as my eyes became more accustomed to the gloom, beat a slightly hasty retreat. The unknown wanker looked really disappointed when I didn't stick around to help out, but ... well, I didn't know where he'd been. And didn't want to speculate all that much, either.
Back outside, I was sort of happy to see that the jumper was an old Arran one I'd actually bought with me - so nice to be wearing my own clothes for a change - and plenty warm enough for the weather. Which was just as well as I knew some of the guys hereabouts had a fairly basic view of sexual relations, meaning that I'd prefer to move away from the dome before Unknown W got slightly straighter and decided I owed him something.
So I wandered off. It really was a beautiful morning. The Ring was the obvious place to go, or maybe head to Eat Street and have a go at blagging a cup of tea off one of the vendors there? Nah - both were liable to get busy quite rapidly as people emerged for the day. So I went the other way, instead, towards the trees on the far edge of the site.
I knew there was a water bowser over by the edge of the field and I needed to at least splash myself down, so I headed that way. A few people said hello as I passed, more simply ignoring me and the rest of the world ... probably still stoned, trying to cope with the intricacies of making tea without an electric kettle or maybe just wondering what the hell they were doing in the middle of this field. I did notice a couple of magpies doing a good job of clearing up odd items lying around - mostly shiny ones, such as discarded foil wraps. I wondered vaguely if they could be trained into teams, help with the shit shifting when everyone finally moved on. Then I began wondering whether all the foil wraps in question had actually been thrown away or had just been mislaid. Ah, well - anything lost that way would be easy enough to replace ... and a stoned magpie might even be entertaining. Though maybe not for the magpie.
Which thoughts kept me at least amused until I found the water and did the necessaries - or, rather, the bare minimum, which in this case involved my washing my face and arms to remove at least some of the grime. Someone had rigged up a sort of shower attachment but the day was still too cold - and the site generally too filthy - for that to be particularly tempting. Instead, I spent a minute or two sitting on the tow bar of the truck, tugging some of the knots out of my hair, and then picked up the guitar, thought better of it and pulled my pipe out of my jeans pocket.
Then I thought better of that, too. I could hear a thrush singing in the distance and realised that it could be the musical highlight of the week. I set off towards the small copse just at the far side of the field.
Once I'd started walking and the sun came up fully above the horizon it began to get quite a lot warmer quite a quickly. I shrugged the jumper off, again, and with it the slightly creepy memory of my hand on a really greasy penis. Not that I had a problem with giving the odd handjob, I just kind of liked some sort of notice ... or at least to exchange a few words with the recipient before hand. Yuck, I thought, tying the jumper round my waist with a slightly savage jerk. Actually, it ended up being quite tight, but I noticed that it pulled the dress close against my breasts ... which felt ... quite good. OK, I admitted to myself, Mr Wanker was a bit off-putting, but my brief view of Bella impaling herself had been ... a bit ... exciting.
Strange what you can learn about yourself crashing in a field with virtual strangers.
The copse turned out to be a mix of alder and ash, with dew still speckling the many cobwebs spun throughout the undergrowth. A couple of great tits were flitting amongst the trees but there was no sign of a thrush. Well, they can be shy birds, so I sat down on a tree root and began to pack the pipe. I thought yet again that it was a beautiful morning, pleasantly surprised to have such a beautiful place to myself.
This, of course, was the wrong thing to think. I'd just decided that it was now warm enough to lose my t-shirt and make myself comfortable on my perch, when I heard feet crunching through the brushwood. Bugger. Then I heard someone whistling softly - oh, joy, I thought, all this and sound effects, too - and eventually a female voice softly singing. Ah, well, I thought ... might as well introduce myself. I picked up the guitar and began to softly play along with her song.
Frankly, I was still thinking about Bella's bum ... or about how long it was since anyone could have seen me doing something similar. Not that I'm into women - much - and exhibitionism had never been my thing, but I had to admit that it was a long time since I'd had a shag, and a lot longer still since I'd had a worthwhile one. Say what you like, the hippy-anarcho-punk scene quite often failed to live up to its public image.
I was, though, I realised, quite horny and I found my hands brushing against my nipples as I walked into the wood. I may have started whistling - I do that, when preoccupied - maybe even begun to sing. I was definitely preoccupied ... actually wondering whether I could sneak a quick wank myself ... when some arsehole started strumming a bloody guitar a few metres away. Shit, I thought ... so much for a moment of - umm - splendid isolation.
Turns out it was a guy lying on a tree root, wearing nothing but a pair of tatty jeans and a pair of boots, looking at me over the soundbox of an equally tatty guitar. He smiled at me, teeth showing white amid a strangely neat beard, waved a small hash pipe in my direction. Ah well, I thought ... might as well say hello.
What came into view was a woman in a long blue dress, worn over the obligatory Convoy Boots and with a grubby grey jumper tied high round her waist. Her hair was long and the way it flowed over her shoulders suggested that it had actually been washed fairly recently. She was looking at me with intelligent eyes and there was an air of amusement to her expression that I found intriguing. As I did the fact that her breasts were clearly outlined against the thin material of her dress...
I politely concentrated on looking her in the eye, however, and for some reason waved the pipe at her, pretty much the universal gesture of welcome in these circles. She came over to me, sat on her haunches just in front of my root. I handed her the pipe and my zippo, watched her light the thing with practised ease. She took a drag, coughed slightly and handed it back. "First of the day", she apologised, and I agreed it was for me, too, also taking a drag.
"Well, probably..." I went on. "I don't think I actually got to sleep last night, so its a bit difficult to say, really."
"You've been here all night?" she asked, sounding highly amused ... but it was a hot pipe good dope, after all. I explained about the thrush, said I thought that it would resume singing if we were quiet. At which she nodded, and said nothing in reply. Instead, we passed the pipe back and forth in companionable silence. I watched her as she sat back on the ground, eventually stretching out on her back. Her dress had ridden up almost to her knees, and the jumper had become a pillow at some point. Her breasts rose and fell gently, but if she was asleep she was remarkably good at smoking dope at the same time. Whatever, I thought, and lay back myself.
On cue, the thrush began to sing.
I lost all sense of time. The guy with the guitar turned out to be some sort of bird freak, told me about lots of stuff he'd seen over the previous days around the site, none of which I'd noticed. Something he said was a thrush started to sing and I was entranced - I live in a squat in South London and bird life is not a big feature of the area. This morning, though ... I don't think I've ever heard anything more beautiful. I tried to work out the structure, imagine the chords but it was too complex, too fluid ... too perfect. So I listened, instead, intently, with an avid concentration that was not entirely to do with being out of my box. Time passed, the bird went on to other things. We continued lying there in silence.
After a bit, I decided that a spliff would be in order and rolled over to put one together. I thought the guy was probably asleep but he was watching me, instead, in a friendly sort of manner. Actually, he seemed a friendly sort of bloke - some sort of academic, I guessed, or maybe a mature student. Despite his clothes and generally bedraggled appearance he didn't seem to be a full time crusty. Nor was he making any sort of attempt to chat me up, which was nice, though he'd certainly checked out my tits earlier on. Instead, as I stuck the papers together, cooked the hash, he started asking me about me ... with apparently genuine interest.