WEEKENDER: Beer, chocolate and wellies... festival fun being had by all

Reading Festival (9600870)

Reading Festival (9600872)

Reading Festival (9600875)

Reading Festival (9600879)

First published in News by

BY now, music fans at the Reading Festival will be waking up after the first full day and night's entertainment, ready for another few hours' slogging around the site eating unhealthily and possibly getting very wet.

Being more of a fan of listening to music under a roof, I don't normally pay too much attention to the annual calendar of outdoor music events, but Reading is different this year, because my eldest son is a festival first-timer.

I like to believe that I've always played it cool when my kids have begun to spread their metaphorical wings as they get older, but I must admit to having been anxious at the prospect of him spending five nights under canvas among a vast swathe of largely young man- and womanhood.

This state of mind has not been eased by the 'preparations' he made in the run-up to heading off with his mates on Wednesday.

He assured me that all the major food groups were catered for, but his contribution to the nutritional value of this extended weekend away appeared to consist of a large pack of canned lager, big bags of crisps, and copious amounts of cereal and chocolate bars.

Inquiries about what his group was going to do by way of meals was met with a vague answer about disposable barbecues, though no clue was given as to what exactly they were going to cook on them.

Footwear was another cause of parental worry. Having watched the television coverage of many a sodden Glastonbury festival, my son's again vague declaration that a couple of pairs of canvas trainers would likely suffice met with a guffaw from me that can only be described in retrospect as being partially a howl of anguish.

Last Tuesday evening however, he went on a late night trip to a well known supermarket with his mum, and bought a pair of wellington boots. Sense emerging groggily from the late-teenage mind at last.

That sense appears however, to have well and truly receded into the darkness by Wednesday afternoon. On arriving home after work, we discovered that he had not taken a jacket, or hoodie with him.

Five of the aforementioned items were available to him, hanging on the bannister knob at the foot of the stairs, or from a peg on the back of his bedroom door. Almost without fail, when he goes out, he takes one of these with him, but chose the beginning of this five-day odyssey, with its promise of rain, muck and chilly evenings, to forget to take one.

The lager was nowhere to be seen, but there were hoodies aplenty. Priorities, priorities.

Text messages were sent. Replies eventually came:

"Everything OK?"

"Yeah, everything is fine."

"You've not taken a jacket!!!"

"I know. I bought a new one."

Quite how much that cost, I don't yet know, but considering he had a new one bought for him last weekend, there will be words exchanged on his return.

Later on Wednesday, I ventured the following message, ripe with fatherly concern:

"All set up and sorted?"

Thirteen hours and 20 minutes of silence later, I tried again.

"How're you doing?"

"It's good but one chair got stolen."

So, into Thursday, the music hadn't even got properly started, and he and his happy band have already been targeted by festival thieves.

Riven by concern, I shot back the following message:

"OK. Keep an eye on the important stuff - money, ticket, clothes, etc. Stick chairs inside tents if not using..."

"I will," came the reply.

Twenty-four hours later, as I write this, I still cannot decide if that "I will", had it been spoken, would have sounded confident and positive, in a stop-worrying-dad-for-God's-sake type of way, or if it was more like "please get me out of here I want to go home."

I have concluded that it was the former, but doesn't stop me worrying. I know he's 18, but I know what I was like at 18, and there was a lot of forgetting and not being fully cognisant of what was happening around me.

For all the extra grey hairs I am accumulating however, I must grudgingly admit to being jealous, not least because last night he was going to see Queens Of The Stone Age deliver a performance of no doubt spine-tingling rock behemoth proportions.

In short, despite my belief that fields should largely be reserved for farming and camping, a considerable part of me wishes I was there last night too.

I will text him later this morning, as he enjoys his breakfast of beer and chocolate, to endeavour to extract a detailed answer about what the band's performance was like.

I expect an answer sometime tomorrow...

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