A drunk woman gesticulates at me. “The back of the line for beer is there.”
“What you on about?” I reply (and by now, I’m sober).
She goes: “I’ve been stood here for an hour.”
“Yeah, I know,” I say. “I’ve been stood next to you. Ask him.” I point to a young man with a glittered beard and no focus. I saw her later. She was still annoyed, waiting for the bogs, as I was pushing in at the front.
But let’s not tarnish the sheen from the wonderful Cotton Clouds festival in Saddleworth with talk of queues. Instead, let’s chat about the fact that The Sugar Hill Gang were doing White Lines on the cricket pitch where I live. They didn’t disappoint, performing Apache, Rapper’s Delight, and The Message, too.
The main stage was feel-good. Ukulele parody band (and the reason I wanted to go in the first place) The Everly Pregnant Brothers got the crowd singing along with No Oven, No Pie and Stuck in The Lidl With You. I’d spoken to front-man (although they all stand in a line) Shaun Doan earlier in the day and asked him if he was going to do a version of Rapper’s Delight.
“I don’t do any raps, except I’ve got a version of John Barnes’s rap from World in Motion.” He went on to recite it to me, the end of which was “and in the morning, I convert it to poo”. It was a better version than John Barnes managed, of course. Later there was perfect timing on the main stage with Nick Heyward singing Fantastic Day as the sun went down.
Jimmy’s tent was my favourite, though. I had a feeling of being privileged to have seen The Blinders and Rose Elinor Dougall, with a sense that I may not get so close again. The Blinders have this cosmic quality. You know they’re on a trajectory to the heavens – beautiful psychedelic punklings that they are. A high point for us all was Howling Rhythm & The Howling Horns, playing the trombone along to Sweet Soul Music as they were passed over the crowd.
I’ve never seen so many people in Saddleworth so happy at the same time. In fact, in recent weeks I’ve never seen the sun shine for so long either. There were many content kids running around popping bubbles and kicking balloons, and the Glitter Girls made us all sparkle.
I’m already looking forward to the next one. I hope The Sugar Hill Gang were able to take in the sights before the gig – there’s a bridal path between the two cricket clubs, so vibrant and lush in the summer months. In fact, it’s like a jungle sometimes.
Images by Carl Gibson