The joy of Leicester City FC

Leicester City for years have been a team that at best, grabbed themselves the odd cup and gathered respect for mainly not being relegated. This season though they stand proudly at the top of the English Premier League five points clear of Spurs while all the predictable suspects you’d expect to win the league are languishing  far, far behind them.

I spent a number of years living in Leicester so I get how much this means to the people there, and indeed, any neutral is shouting on Leicester to win if only to achieve something that should be un-achievable in the modern age of football in England.

Manager Claudio Ranieri has done an amazing job and last night against Newcastle did this near the end of the game.

So for Claudio, for the people of Leicester and every neutral in the country, I hope Leicester do it. It’d be a gloriously inspirational event in football and god knows it needs such an event.

The Daily Bale Crawls On & On & On

Joshua Bonehill’s lovechild, The Daily Bale has returned in a spewing mess of lies, not to mention the hilarity of Bonehill offering Billy Bragg out for a fight.

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So the Daily Bale has been back for a day or two and it’s libeled Billy Bragg, spread more racist lies, and has had more attacks at disabled people. There’s no depths to which Bonehill and his decreasing circle of friends seem able to sink to but although there’s still police action looming, that’s not going to stop them from dishing out threats like this.

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That’s another impending police complaint if Wood carries this threat through of course. There’s also a new name to this, one Charlie Fournel who seems to be part of this weird group of fascist freaks.

Anyhow, everyone should know the routine by now. Protest their Facebook page, Their Twitter page and their blog.  Repost blogs such as this reply from Nikki Pilkington to the libel she suffered from them, or this about the abuse that caused the Globe pub in Leicester to close.

The only way to drown these people out is by telling the truth, and doing it in a manner that drowns out their insanity. So spread the word about the lies and let the truth be told.

Nikki Pilkington Replies to the Daily Bale’s Libellous Insanity

ImageBefore I get to Nikki Pilkington’s reply, it’s probably best to do a quick timeline of what’s happened over the last fortnight since the Daily Bale, and it’s creator Joshua Bonehill caught my attention, so here we go.

The Daily Bale made up a piece of libel against the Globe pub in Leicester.

I asked the question as to who the Daily Bale was and attempted to answer it.

The Daily Bale continued to libel the Globe.

Some thoughts on the Bale’s campaign of fascist insanity.

The libel thrown against Nikki Pilkington.

All this takes us up to date where it looks like the police have acted to shut Bonehill down, which considering the scale of his libels, not to mention the threats he was chucking out probably means that if found guilty then he’s facing a custodial sentence.  I don’t think that unless you’re a hardcore EDL supporter, or one of the fascists Black Shirts who hung onto his every word they’ll be many tears shed.

Anyhow, one of Bonehill’s victims, Nikki Pilkington has spoken out and in doing so has given a bit more context as to why she was attacked.

Please give her blog a read here and if possible, please repost, retweet, or spread this story to counteract the lies which the Daily Bale spread. It’d do a lot to help repair the damage Bonehill and Wood did.

As for the Daily Bale, and Bonehill, there’s been no news. I am however looking at the  local papers in the hope that I’ll read his name as being charged with multiple offences…..

All You Fascists Are Bound to Lose

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In a break from the more jolly songs I’ve posted in the past, I feel this needs to be posted in the light of the Daily Bale’s blog and the events surrounding The Globe in Leicester, and their aftermath.

The lyrics speak for themselves and Woody Guthrie was going to pop up at some point. Now seems a perfect time.

Enjoy.

Who Are The Daily Bale and What Have they Got Against The Globe in Leicester?

I detailed yesterday’s events in regards how the blog,  The Daily Bale, published a dreadful piece of libel against The Globe pub in Leicester. Before reading on, I’d go back and read yesterday’s blog I put up as it’s got all the story of how the Daily Bale spread a lie which forced the pub to close and it’s staff to receive threats via phone, email, social media, and to the pub and staff in person.

The Daily Bale  today have been quiet apart from some guff about Princess Diana, which was apparently written by a Steven Sodholmy. A Google search on that name brings up a Facebook page called R.I.P Lee Rigby, which you’d think was a tribute page to the murdered soldier Lee Rigby, but instead is using his name to peddle Daily Bale articles and other neo-Nazi views, even though it actually did appear to start out as a tribute page.

The person behind the Daily Bale seems to be someone called Joshua Bonehill as this article seems to show. Bonehill has an interesting history, including how he broke into a police station and stole an inspector’s uniform when he was still calling himself Joshua Bonehill-Paine and was a prospective Tory councillor.

 

As much as I despise UKIP, it appears they’ve been doing their best to purge him from their ranks much to the annoyance of Bonehill-Paine who clearly seems to think an awful lot of himself as the self-proclaimed leader of the ”Stand Strong‘ movement.

The links between Bonehill to neo-Nazi groups has been made clear but what was interesting is their use of fake profiles to constantly hide from anti-fascist investigators trying to expose them, as the one thing they can’t hide is their writing style which is the same racist and hyperbolic style employed in the Daily Bale, not to mention the casual throwing around of accusations of people being paedophiles.

Googling these two bring up a list of accusations and evidence against them which could keep me writing all day, so I won’t as there’s enough evidence to link these two to the Daily Bale, but why have they focused on The Globe, Leicester and thrown around libellous accusations which have affected people’s lives when they’re based round the South West and don’t seem to have any connections to Leicester?

It seems Bonehill had a run in with the Leicester branch of Stand Strong that’s suggested on when you look at this cached page of Stand Strong’s Facebook page from the 6th July 2013. One post leaps out.

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What exactly did Bonehill do to Leicester Stand Strong? I don’t know as all that exists is that comment from that cached page from July which strongly suggests something was done. However a search for Leicester Stand Strong’s Facebook page brings this up which says the current admins are a Julie Hogben and Thelma Bone.

A search of Google’s cache from the 8th June 2013 brings this up, and just look at who the admin is…

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Looking at much of the current content of the Leicester Stand Strong page it’s the sort of far right nonsense you see on EDL pages, and in fact, the page defends the EDL when it appears again it started as something else. Some of the other Stand Strong pages also veer into neo-Nazism, but most seem to have started as something else before diving deep into the pool of bigotry. What is different though about Leicester and the Globe especially that makes Bonehill attack it in such a libellous way?

Leicester is a massively multicultural city which does have problems with racism, but it also has groups like Foxes Against Racism (Leicester City fan group fighting racism), leading academics like John Williams who speak out against racism, not to mention there’s a strong anti-racist movement generally in the city. The Globe is a popular pub with a vast cross section of customer including bikers, students, football fans, families and a general cross section of the Leicester community.  It also used to host meetings of anti-racist groups when I lived there, and I know it still does. It seems that the people behind the Daily Bale wanted what they though was an easy target, but in reality the truth is they were stirring up trouble which worked a treat for them as the pub was forced to close yesterday until they got security in.

I know from a friends Facebook page that The Globe opened last night and people went down to say Fuck Facism. I also know that the Baby Squad (a notorious group of generational football hooligans who I was first told about on my very first Saturday afternoon in Leicester when I moved down from Glasgow in January 1988) were on the prowl outside the Globe last night trying to cause trouble, which I’m betting is exactly what The Daily Bale were hoping for but the people of Leicester have told fascism where to go and if there’s one thing I learned in 13 years of living in Leicester is that you don’t piss the locals off. You wouldn’t like them when they’re angry.

As for The Daily Bale, they’ve not let up today though their blog is as said fairly quiet today. The real bile is on social media where their Twitter feed reveals they’d like to see the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond executed.

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They also boast of setting up the New British Union which seems to be a political party for those who think the BNP are a wee bit too liberal and soft. It’s as if they read V for Vendetta and thought Norsefire was a template for their ideas. Or to put it bluntly they’re dangerous bigoted  fantasists who have libelled a pub, endangered it’s staff a patrons, accused the editor of the Leicester Mercury of being a paedophile, want to execute Alex Salmond, and have now set up their own political party.

Thankfully it looks as if the police are going to come calling and that may well be the end of that, but seeing as it looks as if they’re prepared to martyr themselves for ‘their cause’, while UKIP, the BNP and even the EDL try to distance themselves from them you have to hope that they end up getting what they deserve.

As for the people of Leicester you have my support for what little that actually means seeing as I no longer live there and haven’t even been back to visit since 2003. I had an interesting time in my time living in Leicester and although I’m perfectly happy in sunny Bristol I wish the city and the people well. Don’t let the bastards win.

EDITED TO ADD

It’s just after 3pm on the 18th of August. the Daily Bale have posted this on their site.

Nick Lowles has been leading the Anti-British movement for some time now but recently shocking evidence emerged linking Lowles to the 1993 Harrods bombing. The Sunday Bale investigates:

After joining the communist party of Great Britain in 1992, Nick Lowles wanted to make an impact and strike fear into the hearts of British people.  Patrick Hayes and Jan Taylor who were convicted of the 1993 bombing of Harrods on behalf of the Red Action militant communist group

managed to convince Nick Lowles into helping their cause, in late December of 1992; Lowles joined up with Red Action.

It’s alleged that Nick Lowles, Patrick Hayes and Jan Taylor plotted to carry out the Harrods bombing at Lowles seedy london apartment, after preparing a package containing 1 lb of Semtex plastic explosive, the conspirators soon moved in to place it outside of Harrods in a bin, knowing that many would have been injured or killed.

The Explosion outside Harrods happened in January of 2013, both Hayes and Taylor planted it in the bin whilst Lowles kept watch on the other side of the street, no doubt he stood and watched as many were injured and chaos erupted in the busy London Street.

Shortly after the attack, Hayes and Taylor were arrested and sentenced to 30 year prison sentences whilst Lowles managed to evade police investigation and headed to the city of Leicester where he later founded Hope not Hate and took control of communist paper ‘Searchlight’

The truth is that Hope not Hate is founded on good old grassroots terrorism, backed by nonce Tom O’Carroll and various other unsavoury characters.  Nick Lowles has been responsible for the death of many innocent people who decided to take their own lives after having a vicious hate campaign mounted against them by Hope not Hate. People have been murdered as a direct result of Lowles hate campaign waging and many people have lost their jobs.

So it comes to no shock that MI5 Had opened a file on Nick Lowles in the late 1990s with fear that he may launch another strike against British soil sometime in the 2000s. The Daily Bale believes that Nick Lowles is still in touch with his former terrorist comrades from the Red Action militant group.

Lowles currently lives in the city of Leicester with his wife Clare Hewitt who filed a report against Lowles in 2009 for assault and battery which resulted in the death of their unborn child; she later dropped all charges. 

The byline is again by a Steven Sodholmy who is probably a pseudonym for Bonehill but as vile as the article is it does contain a hint as to why they’re focusing on Leicester.

Lowles managed to evade police investigation and headed to the city of Leicester

There’s no truth to these accusations as this was an IRA bomb but it appears that the Daily Bale really do want to target Leicester in order to get at Nick Lowles. It also looks like they’ll be facing more legal action for this libel as I’m sure Lowles, etc are not going to let Bonehill, etc get away with their pretty vile accusations.

The Globe pub in Leicester isn’t banning soldiers

Over the last day or so this story has popped up on social media which originated at the blog, The Daily Bale.

The Globe Pub in Leicester has recently enforced a new scheme which seeks to ban all British military personnel from entering their premises in fear of upsetting local non British citizens. 

On the first instance it sounds like one of those crazy things that might, just might possibly, maybe, perhaps, could happen in a multicultural city like Leicester. The problem is that the story is a steaming heap of shitty lies designed to stir up race hate, and here’s why.

I lived in Leicester for around 13 years. The Globe was the very first pub I ever went into in Leicester and I know the pub well as I spent a lot of time drinking there over the years. I know the pub’s history, and in fact anyone drinking in the city will know the pub well as it’s a famous Leicester landmark.

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Have a note of where the windows are in that picture because there’s clearly no way there can be a window on the back wall of the right hand side of the pub as there is in the picture The Daily Bale uses.

That got my attention right away. That pub in the bottom picture clearly isn’t The Globe. In fact it doesn’t take much to find out who the licensee of The Globe is. So a little Google search on the image brings this article up from The Knutsford Guardian.

A KNUTSFORD pub is back on track after a turbulent past.

The Oaks, on Mobberley Road, has been run by Angela and John Beaumont for the past six months.

The couple came in after the pub’s previous landlord, Mike Riley, was sentenced to five years in prison in December 2011.

Following a tip off from a member of the public, police found firearms in the property after raiding it in August 2011.

But Angela, 52, and John, 49, have been in control since the turn of the year on a temporary basis while owners, Punch Taverns, find a permanent boss.

So the couple used in the picture are actually called Angela and John Beaumont  not Thomas and Christine Hamilton, and the pub in the picture isn’t The Globe. In short, the entire story is a massive fabrication, or to put it bluntly, a total and utter pile of shite.

Why has The Daily Bale done this? Well a look at it’s front page throws up many a far-right story, including this amazingly vile one about the missing girl Charlene Downes that repeats a prosecution claim that bore no evidence outside of a sick comment by one of the accused. It’s clear The Daily Bale is yet another BNP/EDL blog designed to pump out hate, bigotry and lies that EDL/BNP supporters lap up, and the gullible fall for, but let’s be clear here, it’s making a serious accusation against The Globe in order  to attract the wrong sort of attention to it from those on the far right who won’t just spit out hate on social media but will get up and do something to get at The Globe because they think they’re discriminating against soldiers.

Then there’s this story about an 87 year old apparently mugged by ”MICHAEL D’ARCY OF BOLTON UAF”. Problem is that it’s all a lie. A look at The Bolton News website reveals no story featuring a John Nigel Rohm, nor does searching through Google News, or other Bolton newspaper sites. There’s also this piece which is as clear a piece designed to cause trouble as one can possibly find.

The Daily Bale says about itself that:

The Daily Bale is dedicated to bringing you the news the Left-Wing don’t want you to hear, through self-relief and determination we will present you with an array of articles, factual and non fictional that can be used against the Left-Wing to help take the fightback directly to their door.

Using the media of journalism for some time, communist, Marxist scum have made personal attacks against good hard working British citizens, people have been attacked in the street and driven from their homes because of the lies spread about them.

This clearly is the sort of deranged nonsense you see from bigots out to spread hate, and lies. Repeating a number of lies, or indeed, just making up stories designed to hurt a business like The Globe can, and should, have legal repercussions for whomever is behind the Daily Bale mashing their paws on their keyboard to stir up race hate so it may have got itself a wee bit of attention but it may also be getting the attention of Everards’s lawyers, though that might not stop some EDL/BNP thug causing trouble for the pub.

Problem is that so many people will now take the Daily Bale article on face value without realising it’s a lie, or that indeed, The Daily Bale is clearly a Hate Site. It should be treated with the contempt it deserves as their blog has resulted in The Globe closing today and staff being threatened. I wish The Globe and the others libelled well, and The Daily Bale (and the two people allegedly behind it) better be ready to do a lot of explaining.

EDITED TO ADD:

It’s just after 7pm on Saturday the 17th of August and the Daily Bale have not long put this article up which accuses Richard Bettsworth, the editor of the Leicester Mercury of being among other things a paedophile.

The Current editor of the Leicester Mercury is none other than Richard Bettsworth who has been spotted at many UAFrallies and his a known face amongst the Hope not Hate contingent. Richard, pictured to the right wearing his communist party tie is a known supporter of the Communist Party of Great Britain, he is also known to support pro-paedophilia campaigns led by the likes of Paedophile adovcator, ‘Tom O’Carroll’.

It’s people like Richard that want to bring about a communist revolution in Great Britain and by using news network to spread lies and filth against the British people, he is succeeding. We ask anybody who supports the right wing cause and claims to be a patriot to stop buying the Leicester Mercury as you’re supporting Paedophilia, communist and Left-Wing Terrorism.

That’s libellous beyond belief, and in fact it gets worse as they’ve also posted another article to say that The Globe is banning soldiers and it’s all a conspiracy!

In the past 24 hours since the story was released, we’ve seen a massive backlash in support of the Globe pub and their military ban from left wing fanatical extremists that include Billy Bragg, Nick Lowles, Gary hastings of Edlnews.co.uk and the Communist party of great Britain who have gone to extreme lengths to cover up the soldier ban

There’s even a frankly amazing paragraph which suggest the patrons of The Globe are paedophiles.

Paedophile activist and  advocator Tom O’Carrollhad this to say, “The Globe is an inspirational pub that has provided a scenic retreat for like minded individuals, the attack led by the Daily Bale is completely unfounded and wrong and I encourage all Pro-Paedophilia Left-Wing activists to take a stand against the Bale and boycott their newspaper”

There’s also this:

The Daily Bale has learnt that the Globe has employed the services of local communist activists to stand guard to the pub and provide a 24 hour security service in fear of retaliations attacks against the premises because of the soldier ban enforced. Whilst the Daily Bale condemns the actions of the Globe we do not support violent retaliation attacks against the pub.

I used to know most of the lads who did security in Leicester. To say that any of them are ‘Communists’ is stretching reality just a tad, and as for the suggestion that the Daily Bale doesn’t support violence that seems to me to be the slight twinge from the writer that perhaps he’d best cover his arse after the first blog which has resulted in threats of violence which is something they were probably counting on.

It ends with this rallying cry.

The Daily Bale calls for the Globe to issue a full apology for implementing the vicious and evil soldier ban, we demand that you publicly ban hate preacher Nick Lowles and renounce your communist views.

It appears the people behind the Daily Bale are adamant that if they’re not going to be sued by Everards, or as it is likely, the Leicester Mercury and Richard Bettsworth, but the Globe have Tweeted that this is now in the hands of their lawyers and the police as their blogs are doing their best to break as many laws as possible in as short a time as possible. That may even be a tactic from the EDL/BNP supporters who are clearly behind this. Whatever their plan it’s clear that come Monday morning the two people allegedly behind this may well be facing police and legal action. Good. I hope they have the kitchen sink thrown at them.

EDITED AGAIN TO ADD:

It’s just after 10pm on the 17th August. The Daily Bale seems to be prepared for the kitchen sink hitting by making a bad situation for them even worse. Leicestershire Police earlier posted this on their Facebook page.

Leicestershire Police are investigating an offence of malicious communication after a report was received that bogus social media posts had been created for The Globe public house in Silver Street, Leicester.

The posts claim that the premises was not allowing military personnel to enter the public house as it was upsetting their customers.

Leicestershire Police can confirm that the social media posts are not genuine, the claims are untrue.

The matter is currently under investigation and we would urge anyone who has any information about the posts to contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

 

This made the people running the Daily Bale clearly shite themselves, but at the same time they’re belligerent and stupid enough to post this on their blog. Make a special point of the Neo-Nazi sign-off.

We accept that they may be investigating us but we disagree with the sentiment and argue that whilst there are Hate preachers encouraging young radicalised individuals to attack Great British soil and real criminals on the run, this investigation is unfounded and quite frankly a gross misunderstanding.

We rely on ‘leaks’ and witnesses to give us information which allows us to create these articles and if in the instance we were fed wrong information then we acknowledge that fact and hope to rectify the situation.

Should any of our staff face arrest and be charged with a crime then it will be clear as to where the political loyalties of Leicestershire Police Stand. As with the media and most other things in society, communism is now in control and at this time we believe Leicestershire police to be under the command of a communist extremist who obviously favours political correctness and wants to destroy this country by stopping freedom of speech and allowing the media to report freely on such incidents.

The Daily Bale was created by the people for the people and we intend to continue operating until we are stopped by force or death by which time everybody who follows this website and our facebook and twitter account will be aware this has happened. One can only assume that a vast media circus is about to fall upon the Daily Bale but remember most of these media’s will be controlled by communist bolshivic scum.

Great Britain will one day rise out of the ashes of the mess we’ve been left in and the country will be reborn into a powerful, economically successful and prosperous nation. The workers of this country will be well respected once more, a respect that has been lost in recent years due to the decline of British society.

A Great Britain where every man helps his fellow countryman and adds to a wider community spirit that has also since been lost, a Britain where people can live without the fear of being arrested for being non-politically correct without fear of persecution for being British.

We can and we will rebuild this once great empire and that is what the Daily Bale set out to do; we’re only cracking the ice before the storm arrives and preparing way for something that has been on the cards for a long time.

Hail Britannia!

 

They’re clearly out to martyr themselves as they prepare for not only the police arresting those involved but The Globe/Everards/Leicester Mercury/Richard Bettsworth sue them for libel.

I despise how the Daily Bale has pulled the ‘freedom of speech’ line. I despise they’ve made a mockery of it in order to call people paedophiles, or try to get bigots to attack, and as it’s turned out, close a pub  in order to spread hate. Today has been an example of how the far-right work, but also how stupid people are to believe their lies and also how it’s affected ordinary people’s lives who are the same people these fascists (for that’s what they are) pretend to stand up for.

So again, I hope they’re prepared for what’s coming to them. I hope they enjoy being sued and very possibly imprisoned. It frankly cannot come quickly enough.

The Rise and Fall of the Reading Festival part one

I’ve spoken about festival culture in the UK from the late 80’s, and had a huge focus on detailing my history of Glastonbury in previous blogs, but I’ve not really touched on Reading Festival, so here’s my little potted history of my experiences at Reading, not a history of the festival itself though there’s a little bit of that in my story.

Reading was always a festival I had no interest in when I first stumbled across the idea of festivals back in the 80’s. This is mainly because it looked bloody awful with dinosaurs like Budgie, Gillan and Whitesnake making up the headline acts, but the nadir of the festival came in 1988 which featured Meatloaf being bottled off stage and the festival itself becoming a bit of a laughing stock.

The following year saw the festival give itself a royal kick up the arse when Mean Fiddler took over and suddenly made the festival attractive to a new generation who weren’t just into metal and wanted something more, so within a few years Reading gained a reputation for having bright young talent from the Indie scene across Europe, while still getting the big American bands.

Part of the attraction of Reading was the way you could buy a day ticket, so if you wanted to go for just a day to enjoy a band you wanted to see you could which was a huge advantage over Glastonbury, but as I’ve pointed out before Glastonbury wasn’t just about the bands. Reading however was, and if you didn’t want to sit though bands you hated then the day ticket was a nice way to dip your toe in.

I didn’t get myself down to Reading until 92 for the day to see Nirvana,  which was the last time I’d go until 1995, but even on that one day I instantly loved the thing for the sleazy, drunken end of summer party that it was. See, the wonderful thing about Glastonbury is that it’s a celebration of everything good, positive and wonderful about summer, our culture and society generally. Reading used be a farewell to that as well as wallowing in the Bacchanalian joy of everything good and bad about summer, and also, as it was held in a pretty dreary city which suffers from not quite being London, but not quite being somewhere where it can develop it’s own character and culture. In other words it’s a perfect place for everyone to impose what they want upon the festival.

I don’t remember much of 1992. We turned up early on Sunday and had started drinking the day before, plus when we got in we carried on drinking hard so by the time Nirvana came on we were hammered. I can at least say I may have been there in body, and possibly, spirit.

I did a few other days over the next few years, but ultimately the day trip is fun but it’s not the full experience as it’s really foreplay for the main event, so after 1995 and an incredibly fun day which saw me with very short, dyed red hair for reasons which to this day I’m unsure about, but I did decide to dye my hair red which made me look like this.

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This was taken at the legendary lost Leicester pub, The Pump and Tap on a Sunday shortly before Reading in 1995, and the other chap with the long red hair is Steve, who now has no hair at all, but there you go….

1995 was fun and everything as we were getting in free as we’d got free tickets from the brewery as I worked for the same local group which also owned the Pump, so we belted down early on the Sunday, got hammered and I do remember Neil Young being quite bloody awful.

After 95 I wanted to do a full Reading Festival and lap up all the sleazy joys it offered, and with Glastonbury taking a year off in 1996, there was a gap so in early 1996 myself and a mate, Zeb, (who’ve I’ve mentioned before) came up with the plan to go down.

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That however deserves a blog of it’s own, so in the next part of this I’ll go into the details of what still is one of the best three festivals I’ve attended in over 20 years of going to festivals…..

The Rise and Fall of the Glasgow Comics Art Convention part three

Part one. Part two.

And here we are finally arriving at 1994 and things are all a bit odd, so stick with me as there’s a bit of background needed for this one.

I’m in another bit of a limbo situation after coming back to Leicester from working in Bristol for a bit, but I was still helping the lads out at London comic marts and it was at one on Sunday the 6th of February 1994 that Chris (one of the two owners of Comics and CD’s along with Marr for those who haven’t kept up) broke it to me that we’d be doing that year’s Glasgow Comic Art Convention (GLASCAC) next month & do I want to work it? Obviously the answer was yes, so I remember jumping back onto the bus back to Leicester to head to the legendary Pump & tap for what was my birthday drinking session. See, that’s why I remembered the date perfectly!, but back to the Pump and Tap..

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As it was a Sunday I wasn’t expecting a lot of people, but was nicely surprised by the turnout, but the most impressive thing that Amanda had turned up out of the blue. Now I’ll go into the full tale of Amanda and myself another time, but I’d admired her from afar for bloody months, if not years until one night I was in another Leicester pub (the late lamented Magazine) with my then landlady Kate for a drink and her and Kate got chatting while I was in the loo. I joined in the chat, discovered we got on like the proverbial house on fire and invited her down to the Pump for my birthday, which she did. As said, I’ll tell the full story of us another time but to cut things short we started seeing each other from the night of my birthday.

Groovy.

Fast forward a few weeks and I’d asked Amanda if she wanted to come with me to Glasgow, which she resoundingly said yes, but as we were both relatively skint I couldn’t afford the train, so got the bus, though she got travelsick in cars, so forked out for a train. This meant we had the situation where I left first to go to Glasgow, but Amanda would pull into Glasgow hours before me, so after a phone call to Andy Sweeney (one of the AKA crowd I’ve mentioned often before) I’d left it so that Andy would meet Amanda at Central Station (seeing as she had red dreads and piercings before such things became fashionable, she would have been easy to spot) and decant to a pub where I’d eventually join him. I’d also asked him if we could crash somewhere which he said he’d sort out.

With this all planned I started my long and painful bus journey to Glasgow on a clear spring day, while Amanda jumped her train to Glasgow, and in these pre-mobile days all we had was trust in people’s abilities so as my bus pulled off the motorway into Glasgow I hoped everything was alright. I hadn’t anything to worry about as Andy had excelled himself and rescued Amanda from the throngs of Central Station, but placed her in the care of Bridget, his partner of the time, and her sister Magz and her partner, Gary Erskine and few others. Andy had managed to get us a place to crash at Gary’s flat for the first few days, then the rest of the week or so we were there at Bridget’s which meant a flit across Glasgow but it made sense in retrospect as Gary lives a long way from where the con was being held, and Bridget was much nearer.

The plan for the first few days was to show Amanda the sights of Glasgow and then on the Friday, meet up with Marr and Neil (one of the remaining Comics and CD’s staff) at the Central Hotel (where Marr and myself had stayed two years earlier) on Friday to help unload and set up for the weekend. I’d also brought up a load of comics of my own to sell and I had a feeling Amanda and myself would run out of cash which turned out to be perfectly correct, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first few days were great as I showed Amanda around Glasgow, even taking her to Maryhill to show her where I came from which is the only time I’ve done that with a girlfriend. She also had to get used to Glasgow’s climate which at the best of times is erratic but in spring it’s all over the place so she got sun, snow, rain and hail all in the same few hours but walking through Kelvingrove Park in the snow was, and is a wonderful sight to behold.

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In the evening we met up with Gary and Magz before heading back to their flat to crash as the next day we had to flit over to Bridget’s flat. This is when Amanda had forgotten to take her medication to had a wee scare which wasn’t helped by both of us being horribly drunk, but I managed to calm her down the next morning and we packed up our stuff from Gary’s flat and headed off to meet Bridget and crash at hers for the remainder or our stay in Glasgow. That was after another day going round the city, this time in the city centre where we got wolf whistled by builders near Glasgow Green for snogging. To this day this is the only time I’ve been whistled at by a builder.

Money was starting to get tight as we were in the pub or eating out or going around the city like crazed loons, but I’d told Amanda I’d make a mint off the comics I brought and not to worry and I suppose she had faith in me, so she went along for the ride. As the Friday dawned I left Amanda with Andy at AKA as I met Marr and Neil at the Central to escort them to the venue which was a hotel which is now a Jury’s on Jamaica Street, so we could unload and set up which was a bit of a task, but the three of us did it, and I went back to pick up Amanda from the pub she, Andy, Bridget, etc were in so she could meet Marr and Neil and get ready for the weekend, and of course drink more beer. She later said when we got back to Leicester that she’d never drank as much in her life up til then, and to be honest, it was a pretty hardcore week but overwhelmingly fun.

Bridget had kindly let Amanda and myself crash in her bed for the Friday by ourselves while she kipped on her pull-down bed as we’d left the pub early as we (I’d tried to convince Marr that Amanda could help up and she pulled an innocent smile which worked on him)  had to get up early on Saturday morning to finish setting up, plus I had to price up my comics (I’d brought up around 50 or so quality items) but Amanda brought up on the way back from the pub on Friday night she was down to a few quid and I only had a fiver and some change left so I really needed to sell some comics on the Saturday (we’d not get paid from Marr til the Sunday assuming we made our money back) and get us some cash in our pockets for the Saturday party at the convention hotel which is normally a wonderful affair.

I remember giving her my last few quid to get everyone some teas and coffees and then pricing my comics up in the hope they’d sell ASAP. As we were setting up Neil pointed out that Amanda was getting some attention from the other dealers, then I remembered that I’d brought a woman into the lion’s den and a female at a comic convention was rare back then. but one behind the dealers tables was virtually unheard of at the time. This however, gave us an advantage as once the doors opened and the fanboys poured in we noticed the fanboys would hang around our tables trying to cop a look of Amanda which saw Marr and myself drag Amanda into a serving position right in the middle of our huge amount of tables while I took my position at the end where my own comics were plastered on the wall display.

The con was busy, very very busy. In fact it was the busiest GLASCAC out of the three I attended, and like 1992 we were coining it, not to mention pissing off Glasgow dealers who were overpriced but pissed off at us selling stuff for cheap and in bulk though again, Pete Root of AKA took advantage of this to clean us out of some titles.I’d also sold a few of my own comics, and got about 30 quid in my pocket, and by midday that 30 quid had grown to 70, and I’d barely touched my pile of comics, so I was frantically replacing one comic I’d sold on the wall with another, and selling that. By one ish I’d hit 100 quid, and I told Amanda how much we’d made so bunged her 30 quid as she wanted to go back up to the West End to go round the bookshops for a couple of hours as the smell of sweaty fanboys was annoying her, and now the rush had died down the rest of us could cope with things.

That isn’t to say she hated being there, she was hanging round the bar with Andy and Bridget, and also she’d made friends with the Bastard Bunny table opposite us who were trying to convince her to do some modelling for their merchandise. More on this later….

The Saturday afternoon moved on and we were having a storming con. We were selling boxes and boxes of stuff which was great as this meant less to load up on the Sunday going back and of course, more cash in the till. Late in the afternoon Amanda came back after being sunburnt and caught in a snowstorm on the same day.

Ah, spring in Glasgow….

Once Amanda returned, I took the opportunity to dive into the bar for a few bevvies and to mingle with people, not to mention take stock of mow much cash I’d made which turned out to be quite a bit. In fact, if I ended up selling everything I had left at even half price I’d end up going home with more money than I came up with, so flush with this knowledge I necked another beer or three and headed back to our tables where Marr and Amanda were merrily chatting away and serving punters. Amanda told me she’d sold another 40 quids worth of my comics, so in that first day we’d made nearly 150 quid. Not bad for a days work!

The day drew to a close which meant heading back to the bar for a few more drinks, before getting something to eat (which considering how skint we were in the morning was an achievement) before heading to the hotel bar for a session. There we mingled with the stars, but it seemed to mainly consist of drinking an awful lot, which by now was taking it’s toll on Amanda who was ready to pass out.

See, this is the thing and the big difference between British and American conventions. In the US it’s all about the day, but here it’s about getting the day over with so you can get into the bar ASAP, and of course, sneak a session in during the day. It’s a hard regime which she wasn’t used to and seeing as Dez Skinn wasn’t going to, errr, let us use his hotel room, we headed back to Bridget’s flat to crash leaving everyone drinking heavily.

The next day was the last day which meant hangovers and the hassle of packing up. We prepared for this by having a wee wander through Glasgow in the early morning  on the way to the con and having a nice wee bit of breakfast by the Clyde, before diving back into the con for the last day.

Surprisingly for a last day it was busy, very busy. It also came as a surprise when I was told that Frank Plowright (the organiser) was thinking of knocking the Glasgow conventions on the head and that the following year was likely to be the last as it was too much stress organising two big conventions a year basically by himself which was and is, an amazing task.

That would set the tone somewhat for the rest of the con which turned into something like the last day of school with people’s trousers being stolen and nearly thrown into the Clyde (only returned after the owner had to pay a tramp two quid for them) , and other pranks galore. Mainly though it involved selling more comics, including selling everything I brought up which meant several hundred quid profit, plus whatever Marr paid me for the weekend.

In the meantime Amanda was still be lured by the Bastard Bunny people to do something for her, so I bought he a spiffy BB woolly hat, and we agreed we’d do something when we got back to Leicester and get in touch with them to see where we go from there. Before then we had to pack up which we did fairly quickly which meant Marr and Neil could head back to Bristol in good time, and Marr didn’t just pay myself but gave Amanda some cash for helping out which helped make a good week even better for her.

I’ve spoken before what the last day at a con feels like, but this was like the best party in the world and a wake at the same time. We didn’t want to leave. Seriously. If Bridget or Andy or anyone in Glasgow had said ‘stay here and leave your lives in Leicester behind’ we would have, and we actually discussed doing something like that, albeit drunkenly. But we didn’t so we just had a few drinks on the last night, before leaving early as we were heading back to Leicester the next day, which was probably for the best as we were getting too cosy in Bridget’s flat (plus we wanted our bed/s), so we said our farewells and slinked off because we didn’t want a big farewell, and we were getting a bit teary.

Next morning Amanda saw me off at the bus station as she was get the train back, which gave her an hour or so to say her farewells to Glasgow before getting the train which would see her arrive before me. We’d agreed to stay at our separate homes the night we got back but I swung by where she lived and that agreement went out the window.

As for GLASCAC, the 1995 con was the last one. I didn’t go, but I would return to Glasgow for that summer’s T in the Park festival, but Glasgow would be without a big comic convention for some time, but with the passing of GLASCAC a bit of comic history passed on. It’s not often spoken about now among the cosplay and nerd love of modern conventions, not to mention the fact most cons now do seem to be tied up with things outside comics which is a bit problematic for me, but then I’m old school. As far as I know this series of blogs are the only history of GLASCAC knocking around the net and that’s a shame so if anyone stumbles across these blogs who do want to add something, then feel free. I’d love it.

And oh, Amanda and myself did a series of pictures with her modelling the Bastard Bunny hat which means I fulfil the promise I made a time ago to explain the following picture….

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There’s more pictures I could put up but I love that one most of all. It’s just fun and we had a great day doing those pictures. Pity we didn’t get round to sending them to Bastard Bunny for a variety of reasons but it felt like an opportunity lost, but then again much of that time felt like an opportunity lost….

The first cut won’t hurt at all….The Rise and Fall of Festival Culture in the UK-part two

Last time I outlined a brief history of the rise of festival in the UK in the 90’s which drew a very wide bow but with good reason as all my experiences in the 90’s needed to be put into context as I discuss the fun and games at the other festivals I went to outside of Glastonbury (which I’m still outlining in a series of separate blogs) and Reading (which will be done in separate blogs) so let’s get stuck in.

I’ve outlined how I used to attend free festivals & raves in the late 80’s and early 90’s but memories of them are vague, plus I’m keeping some of those reminiscences back as I really want to focus on the corporatisation of  festivals in the UK. One of the first to highlight this was T in the Park held in Scotland since 1994. Sponsored and run by Tennants brewery it’s original idea was to give Scotland it’s own festival on the size and scale of Glastonbury or Reading. This was (and is) a bloody good idea as Scotland has always supported live music in all shapes and forms, plus getting to the likes of Glastonbury was expensive and impractical for most people at the time.

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So in 1994 and buoyed by the relative success of the first Phoenix Festival in 1993 which showed a larger market for festival than most people thought, T in the Park was born on a July weekend at Strathclyde Park in Hamilton, a smallish town just outside Glasgow. The fact it was held here meant easy commuting from Glasgow, which meant no camping so crashing at Gary Erskine’s flat was the option rather than camping at the festival campsite which was the other side of the M8 from the site. Not a good idea.

That first year was fun and the idea of a festival in the West of Scotland where summer weather was at best erratic was a risky business, but it was hardly beating away people at the door as one of my big memories of the festival is lots and lots of wide open spaces, oh, and lots and lots of branding for Tennants everywhere. Being used to the free festival/rave culture, not to mention having now a couple of Glastonbury’s and a few Reading’s  under my belt meant that it didn’t really feel like a festival to me as opposed to a big series of gigs in a field. Which is fine, but pitching this as a ‘Scottish Glastonbury’ as some have over the years misses the fact it owes more to Reading than the Glastonbury type of festival.  It didn’t even feel like the Heineken Free Festivals which I’d attended in Nottingham in London in previous years (it was at one of these in Nottingham that I saw two girls hold a third girl as she squatted into a men’s urinal to have a piss which is a sight  I’ll carry with me til my death) as they were glorious messy affairs where you could bring your own beer in rather than have to endure drinking the swill that is Tennants.

That first year was deemed a success even though it seemed numbers were thin on the ground. The next year I’d managed to convince around half a dozen friends from Leicester to go, and so it was that during the long, hot summer of 1995 two cars set out from Leicester to Glasgow and with Gary kindly offering to turn his flat into a home for us all (poor sod) we drove the amazingly long drive to Glasgow.

I’d like to say it was fun and much of it was. I remember pulling the Pulp Fiction ”royale with cheese’ line to some wee girl at a Burger King in the Lake District as we stopped off for a break. I remember  being amazed at how truly lovely this country is when you get out of the cities & how dry everything was due to the weeks of dry warm weather that’d started before that year’s Glastonbury a few weeks earlier. Most of the time though it was dull, and trying to keep two cars in a convoy for 300 odd miles in the days before mobiles was easier said than done but somehow we got up to Glasgow, and to Gary’s flat which we then invaded for the next four days. I should also point out that several of Gary, and his then partner, Magz’s friends were also staying so how we all crammed in I’ll never know.

That first night was getting my mates from Leicester to acclimatise to the Glaswegian accent, and to the general carnage that awaited us all. One of our number even got a wee bit friendly with one of Magz’s ex’s but hey, we were at a festival and the line up looked good.

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That year’s festival was fun, but like Glastonbury a few week’s earlier it was boiling hot all the time and there was even less escape from the heat here. Also the crowds were phenomenal so by the time we rolled onsite the festival was crammed full. You also couldn’t move without seeing a Tennants logo in front of you trying to convince you  that their urine coloured swill was worth drinking but it it was hot and it was one of the few choices to drink at the bars.

As the festival ended we all looked back on a fun time but the festival was outgrowing it’s location and that was very clear in 1996 when the site was just too full. It was also a pretty bad festival even though I’d again brought up a little group from Leicester in an attempt to capture the previous year’s glory. The less said of 1996 the better.

Which amazingly brings us to 1997 and the festival moved to it’s current location on a disused airfield in Balado in the middle of nowhere. Amazingly it was a dryish weekend and the new site was larger, better and if it rained it still had former landing strips so you had somewhere firm to stand/sit for a bit rather than drudge through mud. This year the group boiled down to just a few of us as I’d made the trip myself from Leicester as nobody could be bothered after the rubbishness of 1996, plus Glastonbury had taken it out of people with it being a muddy year. So it was myself, Gary, his cousin and a couple of others from Glasgow who went. Here’s some of us in all our glory….

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We’re all so young thin and dynamic aren’t we?

Which was more than could be said of the line up.

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Dodgy! Ocean Colour Scene! Gun! Bush! Reef! ‘Take yoir ‘aaaaaaaannnnnndddssss’

There was Daft Punk though, and did I say we were dynamic?

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Anyhow, it was fun & enough worth seeing but I couldn’t shake off the increasing feeling this wasn’t going to be the festival for me as the larger site meant even more Tennants branding everywhere.

The following year was to be my last. I went up with my then girlfriend Tash, and went down again with Gary, Magz and a few of their crowd from Glasgow. It was all fun, with the first day being amazingly hot and bright (If I can find them I have pictures of the main stage taken at after 10pm which was still bathed in sunlight) but the Sunday was wet and shitty. I remember just sitting on the bus back to Leicester being depressed and fed up as I don’t want to go to festivals to be sold crap as that’s why I go to festivals to avoid that. Also the type of person going to festivals had changed from a load of dropouts, students and wasters to the sort of person who thinks going into town for a kebab and a fight is a quiet night out.

This was clear during my first and last appearance at V Festival in 1996. Pulp were playing and it was the festival’s first year, plus it had a pretty good line up. OK, it was all about Virgin selling you their services but the real horror of that didn’t dawn on us til we got onsite. Imagine being in a house on the hottest day in the year, and the coldest drink you’ll ever drink is at the end of a very long corridor but you have to fight through people lined up on each side trying to sell you insurance in the smarmiest way possible to get to that drink.That’s how it felt. Plus there was the amazingly odd sight of plastic laid down on the grass in front of the main stage so that as the day progressed it became slippy and and bit risky as you spilled your overpriced slop of a drink.

Pulp were great and everything but it was a dreadful experience, plus being in Chelmsford meant you had people there who frankly were looking for a scrap. Again, I go to festivals to avoid these people who litter our city centre’s, not to stand next to them as they should ‘show us your tits’ to any passing person who may have even the possibility of having a vagina.

Which isn’t to say Glastonbury and Reading were immune to this as the BBC coverage of Glastonbury made it look like a big gig in a field and skimmed over the other aspects of the festival as it’s never been a music festival, but a performing arts festival while Reading changed post-Britpop from somewhere which was a bit tasty but still fun, to somewhere where people setting fire to toilets and generally being pricks was seen as ‘fun’ rather than the kickable offence it actually is. The problem was that festival culture had been packaged up and sold to the masses in an easily digestible, and overall safe, package that screened out some of the flaws of free festivals but also screened out the creativity and general ambiance of these festivals where everyone really was of a same mind and culture even if they weren’t, for just a few days.

It also helped to depoliticise festivals so they were no longer something which may attack or challenge the mainstream as it’s hard to challenge the mainstream when you’re trying to flog beer or insurance to pissed festival goers.

This isn’t to say either that the type of festival I’m talking about is totally dead, but it still lives, albeit most of the time it’s wrapped in a cosy Guardian-esque middle class comfort blanket. The festival culture in the UK has endured a death of 1,000 cuts, but it lives on in parts of Glastonbury, & the few smaller festivals which try to marry past and present. The likes of V or T in the Park and even now, Reading aren’t for the likes of me anymore as I’m not that type of consumer as that’s what they are-excuses to sell shit to wankers rather than creating a life affirming event free of the pain of everyday life.

When you’ve got people like Emili Sande or The Script as your top bill then you’re going to attract a certain type of person and the organisers know this, hence the blandness.

Like I said-selling shit to wankers.

So when you’re sitting down to watch highlights of these festival think of what once was, and how these festivals only took the shell of what a festival is, but they didn’t think of adding a soul. It’s only the people going and the ethics of the festival itself that can do that.

 

 

 

Find me on a pale horizon-The Rise and Fall of Festival Culture in the UK-part one

As those who do follow this blog might know I’ve been doing a series of blogs about my experiences at the Glastonbury Festival from 1992 onwards, but there’s a bit of a larger story to tell in regards festival culture in the UK.

There’s been festivals of some shape or form in the UK since the 1950’s. You can study the history of the growth of festival culture by looking at the excellent site, The Archive, which details festivals from 1960-1990, or searching out the splendid Festivals Britannia documentary that BBC Four broadcast a few years ago. It’s really the story of my perception of what happened to festival culture from the late 80’s onwards that I’m on about.

As I’ve outlined in the past, I grew up in a very working class part of Glasgow which didn’t mean I was ignorant of festivals as I knew they existed thanks to reading the NME from an early age, but that was mainly things like Reading Festival when it was going through it’s Jurassic phase. I only really learned about the wider world of festivals after reading an article about Glastonbury in an edition of the NME from 1985.

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I was intrigued by the sounds of Glastonbury and the idea of a load of people sitting in a field somewhere listening to music and generally getting together. Not that was an alien concept to me back in Glasgow in the mid-80’s as sitting around Kelvingrove Park was a pastime, plus the odd open air gig used to happen in Glasgow so I’d had a tease but nothing anywhere near the full experience.

It wasn’t until I moved to Leicester in 1988 and drifted gently into various scenes in both Leicester and London that I started to dive into the whole festival culture. Leicester was, oddly enough, where I experienced my first full one day festival with the Abbey Park Festival which was a one day event normally held in August in Leicester featuring frankly a selection of some pretty naff bands, but I enjoyed the whole ambiance of the day and it was fun most of all.

Most of 1988 and 1989 was spent splitting my time between London and Leicester which was easily done thanks to my job, and being a young man with more money than sense I took great advantage of the delights and pleasures of London at a time when rave music was not only at it’s peak but it was colliding with other cultures such as the traveller and punk culture which is where it caught me. I used to finish work on a Friday and rather head back to Leicester, head into London to see gigs, or hang around various pubs in Camden or Kentish Town. I’d stay overnight wherever I could, so a floor, a bed or when there was a comic mart the next day, I’d find a cheapish hotel round Holburn and spend the previous night in Soho after being at the Astoria til the wee hours.

Then in 1990 I decided to take the plunge and go to that year’s Reading Festival, which had seen itself make the dinosaurs which used to play there extinct and started showcasing bright new talent from both sides of the Atlantic. I didn’t end up going, but I did start going to various free festivals on my increasing trips to the South West of England, and I’d stumble across groups of ravers in London pubs who’d drag me to a field somewhere in Hertfordshire.

When I left my job and became rooted in Leicester I fell out of that lifestyle, but festival culture was still attractive to me because it was very much still an underground and alternative thing to do, plus the free festivals were fun, but had a huge element of danger to them thanks to the somewhat dubious people often involved with them, not to mention the gangsters who’d follow them around selling drugs. Most of the time though the free festivals of the early 90’s were fun affairs which sometimes seemed never to have an end as they’d go on and on and on….

There was also a beginning and end to the summer with Glastonbury kicking it off with this huge life affirming party to welcome the summer months and Reading ending it with this dirty, filthy party in a field next to a railway line.

By 1992 or so the amounts of festivals had started to grow partly due to the response to the Castlemorton festival which saw the government start to crack down on free festivals, which meant all these people who were going to festivals wanted to go somewhere and there were decreasing amounts of places willing to host them. By the time the Criminal Justice Bill became law the amount of free festivals were dropping to single figures, and the days of the illegal rave were numbered. This meant big business saw a market and a chance to repackage what was an alternative and underground culture for a mainstream, so by 1993 you had the Phoenix Festival rear it’s head in what was the first attempt to introduce a new major festival to the calender to challenge (the 1996 lineup is to this day the best of any festival of any kind I’ve ever been to) Glastonbury and Reading.

The first year was frankly a disaster with security extinguishing campfires and getting people to turn off soundsystems which for those of us used to free festivals was a bit of a shock, also there was not enough water standpipes and toilets. It never really recovered from that first year as it gained a reputation after this, but it was where the campsite cry of ‘BOLLOCKS’ originated which hung around festivals up til the early 21st century. It did peak with the 1996 festival though more of how that failed in many ways in the next part of this series of blogs.

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Phoenix never really brought in the mainstream punter, but rather the Glastonbury/Reading veteran & the person who couldn’t get their free festival hit any more.  Attracting the mainstream would mean a change in the mainstream itself, which is exactly what happened when Britpop broke which meant the mainstream wanted to see bands like Blur or Oasis or Pulp and they played lots of festivals, so the mainstream slowly started feeding into festival culture. It wasn’t until 94 or 95 that people started seeing festivals as something to do rather than a Spanish holiday or a trip anywhere else. The fact you now had festivals organised by beer companies (Reading was only sponsored by Carlsberg Tetley) like T in the Park and also by large mega-companies like Virgin with the execrable V Festival.

And that sets up quite nicely my experiences at all the festivals I went to that wasn’t Reading or Glastonbury in the 90’s. This gives you a little bit of background as to what was happening and in the next part I’ll outline the exploitation of festival culture by the corporations and how it all went horribly wrong.