Long have I advocated a 'volunteer break' for people who give over their time and love over to Greenbelt Festival every August Bank Holiday, and beyond. This year, after 5 years volunteering, I practised what I preach, and (in the main), did just that.
We was punters @gb09. Me and Mrs J managed to also wangle leaving the kids in a caravan in Northumberland for the weekend (not on their own I hasten to add, but with grandparents), we missed them very so, but it did give us the chance to do the festival just like we used to do it, before we was married, before we knew another soul at the festival.
We did sign up for a few hours helping out at The Amos Trust stall in G-Source for a few hours on the Saturday which was great, and gave us the chance to chat with some beautiful Muslim ladies from an Amos colleague association who were loving being at the festival and really sad they had to leave later that day. We also got to have a chat with the true gent that is Garth Hewitt which is always a great honour and a pleasure. Thanks to Sarah D and George for making us welcome.
I also was asked to perform a small role as part of The Table greenbelt group which did give us some structure to work to as we planned our days there, which worked out well as it meant I got to see stuff I wouldn't have normally gone to see, whilst also having the opportunity to do just about anything we pleased over the weekend.
Things greenbelt 09 was wonderful at presenting that I loved:
Site vibing -
colourful, noticeable, especially like the Kitchen venue interior
Sunday Communion -
outstanding in its' decision re: theme, olive seeds, Palestinian voices, risky and raggle taggle music
Rob Bell interviewed by Martin Wroe -
Greenbelt at its very very best, the questions from the audience and Martin and Rob's replies were a joy
Splendid food in a splendid venue, class
The way that GB has further embraced technology this year and being able to follow it via the GB app, twitter and flickr, and of course grab mp3's of the talks I missed so soon after they finish
Barbara Nice, Alex Horne, new Festival Bowl venue, YMCA cafe, a chat with Bishop Gene and his assistant (who both adored the Festival), meeting and spending all too brief moments with friends old and new.
The whole gb09 vibe
Being, in the main, a punter this year. No pressure, ability to wander and discover
Things I didn't love:
Over eager stewarding in the Big Top, hurrying people out of the venue through only 2 exits when there we at least 6 they could/should have used. Madness. And dangerous. And being told the venue wasn't being cleared after one performance only to find once inside they had changed their minds and having to leave that performance halfway through to queue for the next show.
Jesus Arms -
Soul-less, cold atmosphere, crap paper cups and so-so beer
Missing the Keep Monday Special day, having to leave very early Monday
And lastly, the home from home we have found in recent years, back in the hotel (yes I am afraid camping days are not on the agenda in recent years, that may return though...).
The very special greenbelt people, some of whom we only see once a year, and some we have the delight of knowing and meeting up with throughout the year.
Each and every one of you good folk who i get to share a beer or 2... or 3 with late into the night, where sleep cries out, but is put off for just that little bit longer because the crack is so good and we don't want to leave it.
I leave these thoughts with images of some of you (the non blurry pics), and think of you all, often. And know that surely in Heaven there is a bar somewhere with comfy seats, each one has your name on it, awaiting your arrival.
So, that space between looking inward and looking outward.
The Long Now.
I got it.
Stood in it.
Paused in it.
We must do it again soon. Soon.