Saturday, May 05, 2007

Ups and downs

It's been a weird couple of days. It started off with me feeling a touch despondent as I applied for a better job where I work about a month ago and I found out I didn't get it. I hadn't really expected to, but when I was told I had been unsuccessful I was actually a lot more disappointed than I thought I would be. The following day they announced who the successful candidate was - along with a major reshuffle of my department where everyone seemed to get a cool new job - except me. So, despite the fact that my editor was telling me I have a "future" it was all a bit depressing.

Then, later that same day, the ever-so-slightly slimey entertainment editor (that may or may not be his actual title) asked if he could have a word with me. Usually this means he wants you to do something. And he did.

To go to Malaysia for a week. On my own. For free. And go in tree canopies in the jungle and visit Kuala Lumpur, take pictures and generally have a blast.

Oh yeah, and that's going to be two weeks today. WTF??? I had already put my name down for the trip, as I do with all free trips going but I've never actually had one before. Very exciting! It does mean I am letting my mates down a touch as they're all spending the weekend I leave in a sh!t caravan in Newquay. But when I hesitated on that front, ents ed looked at me like I was completely bonkers. And I realised, fairly quickly, that it would indeed be fairly bonkers to turn it down.

So that improved my mood somewhat. Unsurprisingly. Then, I had been planning to go to some gig thing which was being filmed for a Channel 4 programme, had tickets but they were massively overbooked so it wasn't 100 per cent for sure.

Then Curtains gave me a phone number and told me to get myself on the list so I could make sure I was in and could write a wee story on it for the paper. While I was on the phone, he told me to tell the guy I would be taking his interview slot with one of the Oxford bands playing.

Okay...! So last night we went to this thing, got VIP passes which meant booze on tap (which I did not drink until after my interview, obviously, I'm a professional) got to wander around and see the bands from really bizarre angles and, obviously, interviewed the band. And got the lead singers mobile number. Just, you know, because. When I called Curtains asking what he needed copywise I sort of mentioned that we ended up in a bar on the Cowley Road, with the Foals, one of whom I was talking to at length about music (he seemed a trifle despondent, think I was trying to cheer him up, not sure if it was worked), and Curtains seemed a wee bit cheesed off to miss out on this whole thing that he had set up while he was working until very, very late. Hey, I was working, too. Sort of.

Anyway, the PR guy who got me on the list was schmoozing me quite a bit (think he fancied E, who was my plus one) and he asked if I was going along to this secret gig involving Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. getting on a train, singing in a mellow fashion before performing in a "secret" (I think everyone actually knows) location. Invite only, natch. I said I didn't have tickets. I am now on the list. Oh yeah! I was also offered an interview slot with the singer, Sam Duckworth at 3pm today but I'm not doing it cos we don't have the space. Apparently. Also, I've met Sam before and we had a very detailed, very drunk conversation about his band name which possibly made me sound like an idiot. Not that he would remember or anything.

So much for a quiet weekend. Although GCWCF should be fairly chilled and not very late. Then church tomorrow morning for mass and a meeting with the priest who is hopefully going to marry me and HF, then another gig in the evening, followed by a club night as it's Bank Holiday Monday.

I think that stuff has made up for not getting the job. A bit. The person who got the job I wanted had the cheek to come up to me and say he couldn't believe I got the Malaysia trip, he really wanted it. Ha!

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mayday madness

A year ago, me, E and Andy set off on a mission to find the legendary big May Day party down on Port Meadow in Oxford with very little success, as documented here.

Not at all fazed by our lack of success, we decided to do it again this year. There were more incentives this year, in that the weather was much, much better, and we had figured out there was at least one more route to Port Meadow that we had not tried.

There were, of course, obstacles. They shut the bridge which divides our half of town with the half in which Port Meadow lies between 3am and 9am. We intended to stay up all night at the party, catch the May morning choristers, then go to a gig at the Port Mahon (confusingly enough not on the same side as Port Meadow but on the East Oxford side where we live) for 6am before falling into bed for many hours. This posed certain problems in that we would have to get across the bridge before they closed it at 3am.

The evening all started well with me cooking dinner for us as a belated birthday dinner for E, with a bit of champagne to go with and some wine because she brought it with us and it would have been rude not to. The next step was to go and purchase alcohol for the night that we would be able to open and drink in the middle of a field. So screwtop wine, then. No problems there.

Obviously, by this point we were all a bit tiddly so the best way to get to Port Meadow, we felt, would be to walk.

It's a bloody long way.

All the way walking there, over the bridge, through the city centre, down a few back alleys that E swore were shortcuts, through to Jericho and then Port Meadow, the only people we saw were walking in the OPPOSITE direction. Many of whom seemed like they were quite drunk and having a lot of fun, we considered gatecrashing at least one house party on the way.

Anyway, we arrived at Port Meadow to find - nothing. Again. Silence. But we did see a few people none of whom appeared to be going our way. Someone shouted at us from the river and we shouted back and walked towards them, thinking it could be the party. It wasn't. Then we thought we heard the distant sound of bongo drums.

We tried to follow the noise (which kept being drowned out by the nearby trainline) but got stuck in a very muddy area as the whole meadow floods every year. It transpired we had to walk a very long round. But ever hopeful, we followed a path, spurred on by the distant drum beats, into an area of the meadow none of us had visited before that was in complete darkness.

And then, there it was. A bonfire, surrounded by lots of people (E thought 250, HF thought 80, I reckon it was somewhere in the middle). Bongos. Guitars. Weird dancing. Result!

However, it had taken us the best part of an hour to walk there, and we still had to get back over the bridge so we were only actually at the legendary party for about an hour before we had to return. During which time we were asked if we wanted to buy beer for £2 a can (as if) and also asked if we would sell a swig of our wine for 60p. He looked a bit skanky so we said no.

Then we hotfooted it back through the meadow and through town making it across the bridge with just ten minutes to spare before it closed. We must literally have walked about 10 miles, including walking round and round in circles.

No dogs on strings though.

Did we make it back for the singing and the gig? Err, no, we went back to Es for cheese and cider and then I fell asleep in the kitchen and started talking in my sleep about Rowan Atkinson. Weird. I woke up 20 minutes before the gig (having retired to bed fully dressed in the meantime) but couldn't rouse anyone to go.

It was one of the most surreal experiences I've ever had. We're definitely doing it every year.
More on that story later.