The Big Chill

I don’t drive as a rule but I’m off to The Big Chill Festival. Driving.  I’ll be on on  the Words and Motion stage at about 5pm so set off with The Journalist at 12.30pm giving myself about four and an half hours to travel. 

The journey is full of Friday afternoon traffic Jams.  But by 5pm I am close enough to the festival to just get there on time. I shall be on stage at 5.40pm. But somewhere on the A417, somewhere around Gloucester, around thirty minutes away,   I hit a Bermuda Triangle of traffic Jams which gives me every reason never ever to drive again.  

While stuck I am in telephone contact with my agent and with Apples and Snakes theorganisers of the Words and Motion stage whoa re dilligintley on site.  Slowly, torturously I feel my professional contract  slide away.   By 7pm  my car curls into the festivals artistsentrance and all is lost.  

After six hours travel I have in total lost my fee, let down the audience, the otherperformers  and  lost my expenses of the car hire.  But I did add six hours high stress to my life not forgetting a near crash on a roundabout.  A luxury tent has been booked in the gorgeously named Tangerine Fields I   make a call to Lisa and Gerry the organisers to see if any amends can be made. But the reading is not on. I’ve missed the slot.  

I decided that I couldn’t stay, so curled back out of the festival with my artist wristband laughing at me. I stop in the old town of  Ledbury with The Journalist.  We have coffee at The Feathers with its flapping British Flags and await her friends. “don’tdrive back tonight” she says “if you’re not coming to the festival book yourself in here”.    

I stopped drinking one year ago.  This is the first event I have missed since sobriety.  Ihave worked with Apples and Snakes for Twenty years. Never missed an event.  I drink my coffee and wait for The Journalists friends to arrive in their Winnebago and decide to book myself into the The Feathers because it’s too late and I’m too tired.  She’ll continue to the festival with them.

I book into the hotel then park the damned  car in the hotel car park and walk into the sixteenth century house through its large front door.  The floor is polished wood and my Italian shoes slide beneath me, forward and swing upwards while my back keels backwards to become the first thing that hits the floor with a hotel shuddering crash  that seemed to echo through the cellars beneath.

I can hear the gasps echo from the bar.  I take my time standing. It hurt. It really hurt. “Youalright” says a man. Behind him deep into the hotel bar I can see  surprised concerned faces looking in my direction. “I’m fine” I say “Thanks”. And eventually, slowly, broken, bruised,  I walk, tired,  up to my hotel room and try for the life of me, to sleep.

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